So, your child doesn’t qualify for ESY (extended school year)? Not to worry. There’s plenty you can do at home to ensure your child retains her speech-language skills AND is engaged in fun summertime activities. Here’s a list–some of which overlap with those of Occupational Therapy (OT) principles, only because we know CAS to be motoric in nature. First, we’ll start with some more intense, clinic-based approaches, and then mosey on down the list for some simpler, wholesome fun.
- Consider a speech-language social skills “camp” for your child. This can be a speech-language based camp or one geared for kiddos with special needs. Where to find & what to do: Check first with your private speech clinic. They may have a list/binder/book/word-of-mouth as to where to go for something more specialized. They may even have a social skills* camp of their own. *Social Skills camps designed by your private speech clinic are often 1-2 (maybe as many as 3) hours of working in a group setting (4+ kids with a trained therapist). They are not meant to replace therapy, unless your SLP believes it can. A “camp” may be a unique way to package summer outpatient therapy.
- If you want your child to experience the benefits of a day camp on a larger scale, then start with some well-known organizations for recommendations. Where to find & What to do: Apraxia-KIDS/CASANA has a listing of camps, so does SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (see appendices). Also, ADDitude magazine has some great camps listed that may appeal to you as well. http://www.additudemag.com/adhd-guide/adhd-camps-schools.html as does Treasure Valley Family (Idaho-based parenting newsletter, but some camps are nationally offered)http://www.treasurevalleyfamily.com/g-camps.html
- If camps aren’t your thing, try a speech tutor. This is especially great for those families who may not qualify for ESY, and do not access private speech outside of the academic (school) setting. What to find and what to do: Ask around. Even if you don’t partake in private speech, call or stop by a local clinic. Ask the receptionist she knows of anyone looking to tutor kids in speech. If not, see if you can post a wanted ad on the clinic’s bulletin board. “Wanted: a former (think: retired) or current SLP to work with my child in my home (or library) on apraxia/word retrival/sequening, etc.” Leave contact information. Post similar ads at your community center, local college (think: communication disorders department for a student), library, coffee shops, grocery stores, etc. Be sure to ask the appropriate personnel before posting.
- Roadtrips! In the car (roadtrips, etc), quiz your chid(ren) on hard-to-say words. You’re familiar with their trouble spots. Working with your child this way decreases the performance anxiety. Of course, only do this on roads you are familiar navigating &/or have a co-pilot (another driver). Speech practice shouldn’t deter you from your driving.
- Art Fun. Get messy with your child. Let her smear finger paint all over (do it outside). Have her tell you about the colors she is making and how the pain feels oozing through her fingers.
- Paint the house. Not really. Not with “real” paint, anyway. Let your child have control of the hose. Squirt it with water, giving it the appearance of a darker color, like paint. This is great for working those big muscle groups and may even elict some communication, observation.
- Make a list of all of the things you want to do this summer. Have your child help you with some ideas. If he can’t say the words, see if he can act them out. Add them to a big piece of posterboard and tick off the items as you do them. In similar vein, fill a jar with all of your summertime activities and pull one each time your child gets bored, every Thursday, everyday, or whatever interval works best for you and your family.
- Read a book out loud, host a book group party, or act out a story. You can really have fun with this and adapt for various age ranges. A 3rd grader for example may benefit from doing something like this with a small group or in partners. Have a little discussion, make some art to go along with the theme of the story, whip up a yummy book-related snack. Your younger kiddos may just appreciate the time with you and the closeness of hearing a story.
- Swing and Sing. Go to the park and get active. Here’s the catch: as you push your child on the swing, have her say a target word/phrase/sound. Everytime he goes down the slide, have him combine words, “Me slide!,” “Go down!,” “Do it again.” Think of your child’s abilities and then priovide a bit of a challenge.
[These ideas are not meant to take the place of speech-language therapy with a qualified SLP. They are only meant to supplement the work your child would do with a professional. CAS is a very serious childhood speech disorder. If you feel your child has it, please do not attempt to treat on your own. Your child will not “grow out of it.” Please seek the advice of an SLP].