Speech-Based Activities to Do with Your Kids with Apraxia at Home and in the Community
A lot of parents ask, "How can I help my child with apraxia?" In fact, it may very well be the number
one question I get after "What is
apraxia, anyway?" First things
first, childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), is a neurologically-based motor
speech disorder in which children know what they want to say, yet they have a
difficult time coordinating their thoughts with the complex movements related
to speech. It is a serious
childhood speech disorder best remediated by frequent and intense speech
therapy conducted by a trained speech-language pathologist (SLP). CAS can occur alone or with other
learning disabilities, Down syndrome, or autism to name a few.
But you just want to know what you can
do at home to help your child?
are a few things you need to keep in mind as your "golden rules" in working
with your child with CAS:
- Have your child repeat, repeat, repeat! Movement repetitions build strong
motor planning/programming/gestures. Can
you say that again?
- Provide lots of opportunities
throughout the day to get your child to talk or vocalize--about anything. Your child will begin to see that communication is indeed
a fun part of life.
- Be goofy and funny. If you are relaxed and your child is
relaxed, words will come easier.
- Make talking and speech practice more
about your lifestyle and less about "sit and speak" time.
- Team up with your SLP. Have her give you ideas for homework
and report back to her. Let her know what your kiddo does well at home and see
if it works as well in the clinic.
- The more talking feels like work, the
less willing your child will be to do it.
- Imitation is huge, too. "Can you say what I say?" Try it. If
imitation is too hard, try doing it in unison. Remember all of the chanting our
grandparents did in school for memorization? Even singing the ABC song is a
form of imitation in the form of chanting memorization.
- You are mom or dad first. You do not need to become your child’s
speech-language pathologist. Kids are smart. They will know what you’re up to
and won’t participate if you act too much like their SLP.
- Your goal is to complement your SLP’s
efforts in your own home.
Talk to your SLP about a reasonable amount of home practice. This will also
depend on the age of your child.
now for some nitty-gritty ideas:
a family game night. Traditional favorites will do the trick. The speech payoffs here: turn-taking,
counting, requesting, being a good sport, and other communication
your public library. Let your child find some books of interest and then read
them to her. Speech payoff: child-directed learning, introduction to new
vocabulary, one-on-one time with you in which you are modeling pronunciation and
articulation. You might even hear some sounds or word approximations from your
and connect with nature.
Speech payoff: identify and describe what you see, hear, and smell. Think
holistically--this is more than just a
walk in the park.
- Exercise by biking or sledding, walking, or
swinging. Speech payoff: vocalizations and words are often heard with
movement. Exercise also increases
self-confidence, which these kids need more than anything. Children with CAS
often crave movement.
some art. Speech
payoff: Besides the one-on-one time all kids need, it also unleashes creative
potential and gives you something to talk about: "What color should we make the
banana?" Practice saying "banana" or "yellow" while you’re at it.
to music. Speech
payoff: Kids need physical movement, and what better way to get them to move
than with some rockin’ tunes? Encourage singing; even if they can’t get the lyrics out, they can hum along.
Plus, music has a positive effect on mood--even yours!
cookies or cupcakes. Speech payoff: identify ingredients as you toss them into
the bowl, have your child repeat the words (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) if she
is able, talk about shapes as you roll out sugar cookies. Share your cookies
with friends and neighbors and let your child do some of the talking--if possible--when the two of you deliver the
goodies. It can be as simple as saying, "cookie" or "bake"--even an
approximation will do.
Good luck and have fun! If you have any questions about these
ideas, or are just looking for more to add to your apraxia toolkit, please talk
with your child’s SLP.