Apraxia Monday: New Series Coming Soon!

By Leslie Lindsay

Happy Labor Day!  I’m spending the day with my family–we’re heading down to Loyola University in Chicago, my hubby’s alma mater to share our love of learning with our daughters, Kate and Kelly.  (image source: colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com)

And since we’re on the topic of learning and it’s September…well, it’s the perfect time to introduce a new series here on Speaking of Apraxia. 

Here’s what I have in store–product reviews and samples!  Beginning next Monday, September 10th, I will review some great products you may find helpful as you raise children with apraxia.  First up (and this one ties in nicely with back-to-school) is the SOAR Study Skills by Susan Kruger http://studyskills.com/.  One lucky reader may WIN a portion of this back-to-school success kit!  (image source: www.hangingoffthewire.com)

Also, The Time Timer (http://www.timetimer.com/) and a new book from Woodbine House (the publisher of Speaking of Apraxia). 

We’ll have give-a-ways and contests, and an interview or two, and more…so stay tuned to “Apraxia Monday!” 

In the meantime, you may appreciate this Q&A article I wrote for Ages & Stages, a website hosted by Diane Bahr, CCC-SLP http://www.agesandstages.net/featurefaq.phpIn fact, if you’d like to read more, you can do so by clicking the “In the Media” tab at the top of this page to see ALL of the articles I’ve penned on the subject. 

If you have a product suggestion you’d like to see reviewed–or would just like more information on, please shoot me an email at leslie_lindsay (at) hotmail.com and I’ll see what I can do!

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Apraxia Monday–Taking Apraxia to School: Making a Good First Impression/Social Stories

By Leslie Lindsay

Just recently, I got an email from a parent who was concerned her daughter wouldn’t be ready for school.  Sometimes, the most important thing a parent can do for a child is to model good first impressions themselves.  Start by relaxing and curbing your own anxieties of back-to-school and things ought to go easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy.  (above image retrieved from blendtec.com 8.19.13)

Making a good first impression certainly comes from within.  When you are happy and confident, you project a happy and confident you. It’s really that simple–and that complicated. 

A good starting place for our kiddos with CAS is to make a list of all things they are good at..grab yourself a big piece of posterboard and solict their help.  You can draw pictures, snip images from catalogs and magazines, use real photographs you print out, or simply write those things down.  This is ______.  He is really good at….Hang the poster in his room or on the fridge.

Kids going to kindergarten can be exciting, overwhelming, and nerve-wrecking. But never fear–with the right amount of prepaparation and support, kiddos (with, and without) apraxia can thrive.
 
Also, you may consider making a social story for your kiddo. Social stories feauture your child as the main character. There was once a little girl named ____ (your daughter’s name). She had a wonderful summer doing ___, and ____. But as August drew near, we started preparing for kindergarten. We bought some school supplies, a new outfit and new shoes. She looked so pretty. Here is a picture of ____ on her first day of school. (You can add real photos or have your son draw them). She was excited and a little nervous, but he was going to be just fine. Here’s a picture of ____’s teacher. What a nice teacher!First Day of school 2013 003

The concept behind social stories is you use your child’s name, photo/drawing to tap into common feelings and emotions. Make it positive as show him overcoming some fears. And yours, too!

Being the bookish kind of girl I am, try looking for some first day of school books at your local library or bookstore.  The Night Before Kindergarten is one of my favorites (there are other versions as well…night before preschool, and 1st grade for example).  Other books to consider–I Want to be Your Friend by Angela Baublitz is all about her daughter was apraxia, and how she loves doing things that everyone else does, too.  Look for it at Amazon.com and the CASANA website. 

Rhyming can be notoriously hard for children with apraxia. Read rhyming books like Dr. Seuss and Sandra Boynton often. Joke around with rhymes throughout your daily routine. Practice with phonics and books that use explosive language, yikes! bam! Kapow! Have your child repeat if he can. 

As for speech…remember that kindergarten kiddos aren’t expected to be 100% proficient in language–it’s still a developing skill. You may want to conference with his teacher just so she knows what is going on with your son–that she’s a bright girl with great receptive language, just that his expressive is lagging.

Best wishes for a happy and successful school year! 

For more information and tips on back-to-school social stories, see:

 

Apraxia Monday: Taking Apraxia to School–Prepping for the First Day

By Leslie Lindsay (image source: jestais.com 8.11.13The back-to-school supply kits* have arrived!  My daughters, a soon-to-be-third grader (with resolving CAS) and soon-to-be-first grader shuffled through the supplies, adding labels, and getting organized in school boxes, and backpacks.  It’s a tradition, a rite of passage, if you will.  And one that goes on the books as “getting ready for the first day.” 

But you may have more on your mind than just school supplies, particularly if you have a child with CAS.  Here are a few things I worried about several years ago as I sent my first-born off for the first time:

  • “What if she can’t find her way around the school building?” 
  • “Will she be able to make friends/say her name/ask to join in play?”
  • “How will she ask for help?”
  • “Can she pronounce the teacher’s name?”
  • “Will she be able to keep up academically?”

While I understand many of these anxieties are normal, and some may be more specialized for your child’s developmental level, keep in mind this is a general guide.  I’ll do my best to answer in terms of experience and offer some suggestions for you as well–all with the help of my daughter, Kate.  Ready?!   Let’s do it!

You ask:  “What if she can’t find her way around the school buildling?” 

Kate & I suggest:  Often, schools have “teams/villages/pods/towns” that are color-coded and maybe symbol-coded, too.  For example, my daughter’s kindgergarten village was the Green Town and they were the Apples.  This color and symbol were pasted on nearly everything in and around her classroom.  Make sure your child knows this information if it applies.  Also, take your little one to the open-house/meet the teacher day and get acquainted with the school.  GIve them as much of a systematic tour as you can.  Walk in the same door your child will likely go in each and every day (whether you drop off or she takes the bus).  Follow the most direct route to the classroom.  Once there, point out identifiers for the classroom, “Oh look!  Your teacher must love frogs!  Look at all of the froggie decorations.”  (or whatever you happen to spot).  Kate says, “If you see a person with a name tag on, they are good people to ask if you are lost.  Most grown-ups understand, even if you don’t have many words.”

Ice Cream Party 015You ask:  “Will she be able to make friends/say her name/ask to join in play?”

Kate & I suggest:  YES!!  While I know it seems like a pat answer, it’s not.  Young kids need very little verbal interaction to play, or get to know one another.  Some of my daughters “best-friends” and playmates have never exchanged names!  In our adult world. we think we need to “play” by communicating verbally, but I can’t tell you how often kids will “meet” a friend at a playground, talk about him forever and when I ask, “What’s his name,” they just give me a blank stare.  While I undertand classrooms are different, kids can and will play regardless of speaking abilies.  Kate says, “Just smile and say hi.”

You ask:  “How will she ask for help?” 

Kate & I suggest:  Practicing will do the trick!  Asking for help is one of those “funtional phrases” you’ll need to work with you child(ren) on ahead of time.  You can practice at home, at the speech clinic, or both.  Having an arsenal of helping/functional words under your child’s belt should do the trick.  If your child struggles with this, consider making your own “Boardmaker” type flip ring by printing out some Clip Art from Word, laminating, and cutting into small squares.  Punch holes along the top, add a binder ring, and presto–a cheap and easy way to get the message across!  Kate says, “Teachers know when you need help.  They watch everything!”

You ask:  “Will she be able to pronounce the teacher’s name?”  017

Kate & I suggest:  Maybe.  When we first started our educational journey with apraxia, Kate’s teacher was Ms. Circelli.  It was hard, even for adults to say!  The entire class ended up calling her Miss Lisa (her first name).  Your child’s classroom teacher may have a nickname she can suggest.  Also, if you’re able to get the teacher’s name ahead of time (most schools do this), start practicing a little bit each day.  Kate says, “I had a hard time remembering my first grade teacher’s name, even though it was really easy.  Mom made up a rhyme…Mrs. Ross is the boss…and it stuck!” 

You ask:  “Will he be able to keep up academically?” 

Kate & I suggest:  “School isn’t any more hard for kids with CAS,” says Kate.  Her mom begs to differ!  While I am proud of Kate’s insight, I have to back her answer up with a little reality.  School will be harder for kids with CAS.  If there was a quick and easy answer, I’d give it to you.  Truth is, kids with a history of CAS have more difficulty learning to read, rhyme, sound out phonics, and may struggle with the abstract world of numbers (although some kids excel at math–it’s much easier than written and spoken language to them!).  Work with your child in the last few days leading up to school in sitting still, holding a pencil, doing worksheets/workbooks, etc.  Time it…”For twenty minutes, we are going to play school; you can read or work in your workbook, do flashcards.”  It will give him the practice he needs to begin taking school seriously again.

COMING UP NEXT WEEK:  Making a good first impression, social stories, etc.  Till then…SPREAD THE WORD!

For more information on school, see chapters 10-12 of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA, an award finalist publication from Woodbine House, 2012.  9781606130612

[*In our area, we have the option of having school supplies hand-selected and delivered to our door.  It beats the crowds and you are sure to get school-approved supplies]

Apraxia Monday: Ready for School Anxiety

By Leslie Lindsay 

It’s that time of the year already–Back-to-school!  I was just shoe shopping with my little girls today and as the salesman came out from the backroom, arms loaded with shoes, he said, “This is the busiest time of year for us–it’s everyone else’s December.”  And it’s true–August can be long, hot, and lazy or it can be a whirlwind.  (above image retrieved from prekinderkiddos.blogspot.com on 8.5.13]

Today, we’ll delve into the questions that are likely pressing on your mind: 

  • “Is my child with apraxia [CAS] ready for preschool/kindergarten?!”
  • “How can I be sure my child has a teacher who understands?”
  • “What can I do now to ease my worries?”

While I could share volumes of wisdom and guidelines for these questions, I won’t bore you–instead I’ll give you just a bit to whet your appetite. 

PRESCHOOL READINESS:  If your child has been in early intervention services, then chances are once your kiddo is three years old, she’ll be transitioning from those state-based services to the public school system.  Be sure to talk with your therapists (SLP, OT, PT) on how that is typically handled in your district.  To qualifty for public preschool services, your kiddo will need to be evaluated just shy of her third birthday (give yourself about three months lead time).  A lot of preschool programs will enroll your child at her third birthday, regardless of what time of year she was born.  For example, my daughter Kate hopped on the bus one day after she turned three. (that’s a whole other post).

KINDERGARTEN READINESS:  Transitioning from preschool to kindergarten can be worrisome, but so much of the anxiety ahead of time is unwarranted.  Remember, if you are anxious, your child will pick up on that and feel anxious, too.  Another tip:  be careful about identifying kindergarten as “the big school” or “real school,” so as not to negate the preschool experience, because in his mind, preschool was a pretty big deal. How to know if your child is ready for kindergarten:  (above image source: ouroutofsynclife.blogspot.com 8.5.13]

  • Look into your state’s requirement for kindergarten, they all vary.
  • Assuming your child has met the state requirements for kindgergareten, consider obtaining your SLP’s professional opinion.  “Is my child really ready for kindergarten?”  SLPs are very in-tune with kids, child development, and what is expected of them at the school level.  Have an open and frank conversation.  We took our daughter to speech all through the summer leading up to her kindergarten year even though she technically tested out–we really wanted her to have the skills under her belt and not lag behind her classmates.
  • You may consider adding in an OT session or two before kindergarten begins–handwriting, scissor cutting, sequencing, and other fine motor skills like that may pop up in kindergarten.  Best to get an opinion beforehand.
  • Try some role play and social skills things at home.  “How would you ask a question in the classroom?  Let’s practice.”  “How do we sit at circle time?” 

HOW DO I MAKE SURE MY CHILD HAS A TEACHER WHO UNDERSTANDS APRAXIA?  This is a tough one and one that doesn’t have a clear-cut answer.  All teachers are unique in their experience and training.  What may work is to find out your child’s teacher ahead of time; or, if it’s not too late, consider phoning or writing a letter to your school prinicipal to describe your child’s special needs…”He’s a great kid who is eager to learn, but he has childhood apraxia of speech.  It makes it hard for him to talk, but he knows everything that’s being said to him.  He would do best with a teacher who is _____, _____, and ____.”  Either way, make sure this teacher is aware of what apraxia is, how your child best learns, and ways she may be able to help him in the classroom.  You can make your own pamphlet or brochure all about apraxia, or hand them a copy of your SPEAKING OF APRAXIA!  (shameless plus).  CASANA has a really nice teacher letter you can download and make your own.   http://www.silentstars.org/images/letter_to_a_teacher.pdf 

EASING YOUR FEARS & WORRIES….

No doubt you have a lot on your mind.  But as mentioned earlier, if you’re anxious, your child will be too.  Practice saying self-confidence boosters to and with your child.  Make it speech practice, if you want! 

  • “I know you can do this!”
  • “I trust you’ll do well in school.”
  • “School is so much fun!” 
  • “I love you and I’m so proud of you.” 

Also, stay-at-home parents, be sure you have something fun to do on the first day your little one(s) head back to school…going home to an empty house and worrying isn’t going to get you anywhere.  How about an early morning matinee?  Meet some friends at a local coffee shop or eatery, get your nails done, browse a bookstore or library.  Make it fun.  (image retrieved from babble.com on 8.5.13]

Till next week…when we talk about getting ready for the first day! 

[Many of thes ideas can be found in SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012), chapter 10.  The book is available through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (in-store and on-line) as well as through www.woodbinehouse.com]9781606130612

 

Coming up: Taking Apraxia to School!

By Leslie Lindsay

We have a new series coming to Speaking of Apraxia–one to get you and your little one all ready for back-to-school!  Whether you are sending your little one off for the first time, deliberating if your child is ready for kindergarten, or adjusting to a new school year, this next 4-6 weeks of “Apraxia Monday” are for you!

Some topics we’ll touch on:

  • Pre-school/Pre-K planning
  • Is My Child Ready for Kindgergarten?
  • Back-to-school Anxiety (for parents, too!)
  • Finding resources in and around the school
  • Planning for a successful year
  • Making good first impressions–teaching your child social communication

As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or specific topics you’d like to see addressed, let me know!  I’ll do my best to accomodate your needs.  Just drop me a line at leslie_lindsay(at)hotmail.com. 

Here’ to a great school year! 

[A similar series is appearing on “The Teacher is Talking Tuesday,” www.leslielindsay.com  for non-apraxia/special needs families.  You may find you get maximum benefit by crossing over and reading both blogs as you navigate your family through another school year]9781606130612

SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012) can be purchased through Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (in-store and on-line) as well as through it’s publisher, www.woodbinehouse.com