Apraxia Monday: Summer Re-run Series

By Leslie Lindsay

It’s summer, right?  That means you’ve got a lot more time to hang with your little one(s) with apraxia. Enjoy these precious–and valuable–times to slip in word practice. 00 (1)

Here’s an excert from Chapter 9: “Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to CAS”

“Things to do at home to help your Child with CAS”

Even adults remember new information best when they are having fun. If you had a traditional education, you grew up with desks, blackboards, and the teacher at the front of the class. You were taught that this is how people learned. It might be time to shift your view and throw out the flashcards! This chapter does not take place in a classroom. It does not even suggest you turn your dining room into a speech clinic (although that’s not necessarily a bad idea). But it is about learning how to help your child overcome apraxia of speech in a natural environment: your home and community.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have 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 opportunities.
  • Visit 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, 1:1 time with you in which you are modeling pronunciation and articulation. You might even hear some sounds or word approximations from your child!
  • Experience 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.WP_20131103_008
  • 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 kiddos need more than anything. Children with CAS often crave movement.
  • Do some art. Speech payoff: Besides the 1:1 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.
  • Listen 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’tget the lyrics out, they can hum along. Plus, music has a positive effect on mood—even yours!

For more information, or to get your own copy of SPEAKING OF APRAXIA, hop over to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, or the publisher’s website, http://www.woodbinehouse.com


Apraxia Monday: Summer Re-run Series

By Leslie Lindsay

It’s summer and that means–BUSY!  Between vacations, sticky popsicles, and kids home from school, this writer momma has a lot less time to write.  But you all still want some great apraxia content, right?  Of course you do!

If you’re just now joining us, welcome! And you’re in for a treat–we’re re-running some “Apraxia Monday” favorites. Already read them? Pass ’em on to someone new to the  diagnosis.

Got ideas for future topics, things you want to learn more about, personal stories, or just want to say ‘hi,’ by all means drop me a line at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com or by leaving a comment on this blog.

In the meantime, enjoy the re-runs and your little ones!???????????????????????????

SLPs: Our Children with CAS Need your TLC (originally ‘aired’ on Future SLPs of America, Spring 2012)

By Leslie Lindsay, R.N. B.S.N.

You won’t soon forget her. The red hair and blue eyes the size of saucers will linger in your memory. So, too will the fact that she is as fire-y and energetic as that copper hair that cascades down her back, framing her freckled face with possibility.

And when you hear her speak, you may have an inkling that she once suffered from moderate to severe childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), or you may be none the wiser. Although Kate is a bright, creative, and eager soon-to-be 2nd grader, she has overcome a road block most of us never have to deal with: a struggle to communicate expressively.

And why do I share this?9781606130612

Since you are about to embark into an exciting profession of working with children and their families, I’d like you to have an inside view of what it’s like to raise a child with CAS.

  • We are hurting. We feel a sense of loss in our child’s lack of verbal communication. We are grieving. We didn’t want this to happen. Heck, most of us don’t even know what CAS is!
  • We are frustrated. We don’t know what we are doing wrong (some of us blame ourselves on our child’s inability to speak). It’s hard to live a life where we only hear our child(ren) point and grunt to get their needs met.
  • We feel all alone. It’s not every day you run into someone else who is also struggling with CAS. It often feels like it is “us” against “the world.” If you know of anyone else who is open to connecting for play dates or support groups, hook us up!
  • We have a lot of other concerns. It may be that we have to take off work early—or stop working altogether to make sure our child gets to speech therapy. Money may be tight. Our insurance may be giving us a hard time. The demands of raising a family, running a household, and dealing with apraxia may have taken a toll on our relationships.
  • We have a full, busy life. Apraxia and speech therapy is a part of our life, but we are many things to many people. Please respect our time.
  • Deep down, we just want to have a “normal” kid. When we overhear a precocious 3-year old chatting with his mommy or daddy at the local park or coffee shop, our heart breaks. “Why can’t that be my kid?!”
  • We worry. Will this ever get better? Will my child be able to talk—when? What do I need to do?
  • We want to help. Let us into your speech-pathology world. You don’t have to give away all of the secrets to the trade, but let us be your partner.

As a professional SLP, here’s what you can do to help smooth our path:

  • Give us homework, tips, ideas, and more information on childhood apraxia. Some folks may request this, others might not know what they need or want. Feel us out. If you come across something in your professional life you think will help, but all means, pass it on.
  • Treat us with respect and compassion. We know a lot about our children and we want to help them.
  • But don’t tiptoe around our feelings. Go ahead, lay it on me. Tell me that CAS is serious and complex and can take years to remediate. Tell me, too that you will do all you can to help my child learn to speak verbally and that we are in this together. I need that right now.
  • Ask us about our home life. We may have some inside tips to help you with our child in therapy. For example, she really does get scared of bubbles; please do not blow them with her. She can’t go anywhere without her favorite stuffed puppy. Let her bring him to therapy and perhaps incorporate him into your activities.

7f (1)You see, as a former R.N. who worked with children day and night in an inpatient child psychiatry program at the Mayo Clinic, I know that children and their families matter. We are not simply a diagnosis who needs treatment. We are real people, with real feelings and real lives.

It is because of my daughter Kate that I wrote the first book designed for parents on this complex neurologically-based motor speech disorder. SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A PARENT’S GUIDE TO CHILDHOOD APRAXIA OF SPEECH(Woodbine House, 2012) is as much as labor of love as it is a resource to help others along their apraxia journey.

The book is comprised of over 300 pages of tips, ideas, research, and more on various topics related—not just to CAS—but other speech disorders from suspecting a problem to getting treatment (what that treatment consists of), school challenges, what you can do at home, family coping, child coping, networking, advocating, and co-morbid conditions. Sprinkled throughout are quotes from parents speaking out about apraxia—what helped, what mattered, and what challenged them.

Speaking of Apraxia is a must-have for every practicing pediatric SLP. Read what others are saying:

” I was so excited to open up my Advancefor SLPs magazine today and see your book advertised! Your ‘baby’ is out there. I wish you lots and lots of success with it!” –R.W.

An SLP in Missouri shares this: “I already have a couple of families in mind that I am excited to tell about Speaking of Apraxia. What a great resource!”

“I could feel your blood, sweat and tears as I flipped through the pages (wiping my eyes).Outstanding! I just shook my head in amazement…I am in awe and I am still kind of speechless…really! This book will be just one of your legacies…well done!!”

–T.K.P., CCC-SLP in Minnesota

And remember, our kids need your special touch. For without the “magic” of dedicated SLPs, our children with apraxia wouldn’t be able to make the gains they do. Thank you.cropped-9781606130612.jpg

The Teacher is Talking: Helping Kids Cope with Pet Loss

By Leslie Lindsay

We have this lovely senior basset hound. She is adorable with her perfect tri-color spots, the white-tipped tail, the droopy ears that feel just like silk, and the massive paws attached to her stubby, thick-boned legs.

We are all wild about Sally Mae. Especially well, me. And the 7 year old who says she’ll be a “doggie doctor” since she could utter the words.

But she’s not gonna last forever. The dog, that is. (And if you want to get techinical, neither is the girl…but we’re so not going there).


Just recently, at 12+ years, Sally Mae developed high blood pressure. Wait–how can a basset hound have high blood pressure? I mean, really–she’s slow, cute, and floppy. Just looking at her makes my BP drop. But she has it.

A year ago, she lost the sight in her right eye due to glaucoma.

And now they say she’s spilling protein in her urine which leads the vet to believe there’s some kidney involvement (hence the high blood pressure).

ACE inhibitors, blood pressure medication, and steroid eye drops. Medication three times a day.

Sniff. Sniff.

But she’s happy as a lark. She wants to be with her “pack” at all costs, even if it means lumbering her hefty little body up the stairs to the second floor to listen to bedtime stories with that seven year old and her big sister. She still begs for bones in the backyard, and scampers around the house when she “thinks” it’s time for a walk.

So, one day when I was particularly worried about Sally, on the phone with the vet…that seven year old overheard my conversation. When I finished the call, set the phone down and faced my daughter, I told her: “Sally is an old dog. She’s probably not going to  get better. It’s just what happens. We can help her, though by giving  her medication and lots of love.”

“Can we just stop talking about this?” she said.

“Of course.”

“Because when Sally dies, I’m gonna cry the whole day. I love that dog.”

“I know. Me, too.”

Sniff. Sniff. Sob. WP_20131215_004

And so what can we do when the day comes?

  • Understand the loss is very real. Even though Sally wasn’t a “person,” she was (is!) a member of the family.
  • Feel the hurt. Shrugging and dismissing the whole thing is counterprodutive. Parents–it’s okay to share/show your grief with your child, too.
  • Let kids know. Tell them something like, “Sally won’t be in our daily lives anymore, but she will be in our memory.”
  • Let kids talk. They will have feelings like anger, sadness, hurt, lonliness, maybe even confusion. What death is and what the afterlife is all about is confusing to adults, what must our kids think? Talk about it.
  • Let kids participate. Discuss what should be done about your pet’s toys, her food bowls, collar. Should we have her photo displayed? Where? Do we have a funeral ceremony?
  • Let the school know. It’s summer now, so if your child is in day camp, their counselor should know. If the death occurs during the school year, it’s worth mentioning to the classroom teacher.
  • Let kids use rituals to work through grief. Share photos, draw photos of your pet, save a special object (collar) and display it in a special place. Write a letter or play. Act one out. Plant flowers. Bake dog (cat)-shaped cookies. Write and share a poem about your pet, create a memory book/box/frame. Make or purchase a pet memorial stone or plaque. Send off a balloon.

Finally, caring adults ought to keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of grief. They are typcial reactions that help normalize thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They’re perfectly normal. BUT, if they become too intense, or you worry, it may be time to seek professional advice. Here they are:

  • Crying
  • Regression
  • Withdrawl
  • Nightmares
  • AngerWP_20131204_002
  • Tiredness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Isolation
  • Stomachaches/headaches
  • A need to tell and retell the story. Over and over sometimes.
  • Speaks of the loved pet in present tense
  • Excessive worry about death and dying

For now, hug your sweetie and count your blessings.

That’s it…class dismissed! cropped-9781606130612.jpg

Apraxia Monday: How to Help Your Child Talk, The ebook by Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP

By Leslie Lindsay

Wow–could Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP be any cooler?! I think not.

Mom of three, pediatric speech-langauge patholgist, blogger over at Playing with Words 365, and now author of the ebook, HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD TALK, there doesn’t seem to be anything this woman can’t do.

I recently had an opportunity to review this lovely ebook and let me tell you–I was amazed! What began a collection of popular posts from her blog, this 45-page ebook packs a punch, combining evidenced-based research to inspire and empower parents and early childhood professionals to enthusiastically engage with their children on a speech-language level.

The ebook opens as many do–with a disclaimer. If you truly belive there is something “more” to your child’s lack of speech or overall development, please seek out professional advice; a book can certainly help but it’s not a cure.

Moving along, Katie shows parents what to expect in speech development. Do you yearn to hear that first word? What about the second and third? Will he say momma first, or perhaps the name of the family pet? And if your child is already speaking, I am sure you recall that first magical word, the first time you heard that little voice.

But wait–there’s more! What Katie and I seem to agree on is this: kids learn through play. They love it; they seek it out. It’s a way to make sense of the world, experiment in safe and loving environment. Here are a few tips from the book regarding play:

  • Take your child’s initiative. What interests her? Does she love blocks or doll houses? Farms or cars? Let her “take you” to the toy she most wants to learn from. Get down on the floor. Engage with her.
  • Slip speech and communication in with your everyday, normal routine. Talk as you change your child’s diaper, pick out clothes for the day (“Let’s wear the green shirt…can you say ‘green’?”), prepare a meal/snack.
  • Toys. Get back to the basics. Who really needs a toy that buzzes, beeps, and flashes? Does that teach anything? Nope. Stick with things like blocks, Matchbox cars, dress-up clothing, doll houses, Play-Doh, and farms. Talk about the texture, color, make animal noises together, make the car go ‘vrooom.’ The beauty of these toys is they help your child connect play with fun and they elict sounds which build upon the foundation for speech development. 87c76-410_1target_group_kids_apparel_photography_los_angeles_mike_henry

But why do you NEED this ebook??

  • It’s fun, straightforward, no nonsense approach is just what busy parents and practioners need.
  • Hand-outs that are easily printed and used as your child’s skills and needs evolve.
  • Q&A. You have worries. Katie has answers. You know when a book is prescriptive and you try it and then you think, “Well, that did a lick of good.” This has several scenarios that will help you make sense of it all.
  • The power of waiting. (Anyone else have Tom Petty’s “The Waiting is the Hardest Part” running through their heads? Well, you do now, right?!). See why this is such an important step in child development and especially speech.
  • 100% of funds from the purchase of this ebook goes to Juvenile Arthritis.

For more information about Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP please visit her fantabulous site, Playing With Words 365. http://www.playingwithwords365.com/


[Cover image source: http://www.playingwithwords365.com/ retrieved on 6.15.14, stock image of children]



Apraxia Monday: Some really GREAT resources

By Leslie Lindsay

If you’re just joining us here on “Apraxia Mondays,” you’ll find that I am all about resources. It truly does take a village to raise a child and our village boundaries are expanding! With the world at our fingertips, we can quite literally delve into so much more than our loca,l physical communities can provide.

Just recently, I was asked to provide some of my favorite special needs parenting books, websites, communities, etc. first encountered in the last year. Given that our family is slowly morphing out of the special needs community, I had just one resource to give my thumbs-up: Playing with Words 365, a website/blog hosted by Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP.  Hands down, a fun and helpful resource!

BUT, I wasn’t the only one asked. In fact, a slew of very talented and well-connected individuals passed on their favorites, which I’ll pass on to you! These are my favorites from a list of favorites! http://specialchildren.about.com/od/readerschoice/tp/Experts-Choice-2014.htm

Let me know if you have another favorite you’d like to share and I’ll add it to the list!

Coming up next week, Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP’s of PLAYING WITH WORDS 365 ebook review. 

Special shout-out to Terri Mauro for sharing this lovely list on About.com and the Reader’s Choice Designation.



The Teacher is Talking: About SEX!

By Leslie Lindsay

Just this past week, as I leisurely strolled past the pile of Barbies in the basement playroom, I caught a glimpse of Ken straddling Barbie, both plastic faces beaming with, what…ecstasy?  I cringed, then giggled. And then snapped this photo (see below). Maybe it was just an accident the dolls were placed this way in the fit to hurryandcleanup.

I didn’t think much more about it till we were at the pediatrician’s office a few days later. Dr. Flais neutrally asked, “Have you read THE CARE & KEEPING OF YOU?”

“Uh…no. But we’re pretty open about these things at our house. We’re answering questions in a straight-forward manner with the proper anatomical terms.”

“Well, I’d get the book anyway. Puberty is on the horizon.”

Mom in denial note: No it’s not. I just stopped changing this kid’s diapers–what–8 years ago–there’s no way she needs to read a body book.

Later, we were talking about how important sun screen is now that it’s summer. My fair-skinned redheaded girls have been victim to the sun’s strong rays since they popped out, and they know this. Reminders can’t hurt. “We know mom–skin cancer!”

“Mom? What’s breast cancer?” Giggles ensued. [Note: not a laughing matter].

I explained. We talked about breast self-exams to which my oldest promptly lifted her shirt and pressed on her “booby buttons,” looking for anything suspicious.  Trust me, the only thing suspious is she thinks she has boobs. Puberty is so not on the horizon.

But could it be?!

Better to be prepared, than not. What if something were to happen while mom was away? Would dad know what to do? Would the girls feel comfortable going to him for–uh–supplies? Back when things happened with me, my mom had recently gone through a hysterectomy and we had nothing on hand. What if I stocked the bathroom cabinets with teen pads and let the girls know they are there for “when the time comes?”

Oh wait–just this past March, the kid found some “supplies” in a linen closet and painted silver and propped up as ski poles for the aforementioned Barbies. She strung them together and created a festive garland for the Barbie Dreamhouse.Art, Barbie Sex, Step Dance Recital 2014 043

I can only imagine what she’d do with the teen Always.  Whitewater rafts? Shoulder pads?

No, puberty is so not on the horizon.  

Awhile back, she climbed a fence. Afterwards, we asked, “How did you get in there [that field]?”

“Oh…I just hopped over the fence! But dad…you would seriously hurt your va-wee-wee.”

So much for using those anatomical terms we vowed to use.

For more information, please see these resources:


  • THE CARE & KEEPING OF YOU: Body Book for Younger Girls. American Girl/Pleasant Company Publications. Available thru various vendors, such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBay, etc.
  • MY GIRL movie starring Dan Ackroyd and Jamie Lee Curtis has several “grown-up” themes that make for a good discussion with your family, including life & death, friendship, adult/parent dating, menstration.
  • Be open and honest. Answer with straight-forward answers without giving more detail than asked. In other words, don’t offer more.

That’s it…class dismissed!




Apraxia Monday: Leaving a Legacy

By Leslie Lindsay Apraxia-Awareness-Day-FB-Graphic-1

As an author of a book about apraxia, I am often touched–and humbled–by the outpouring of email and comments received from lovely families across the globe.

Several weeks ago as we were celebrating Apraxia Awareness Day (May 14, 2014),  this email floated through my in-box:

“Three years ago 5-14-11 we lost our apraxic grandmother. For there was no help in her day for apraxia, she was born in the 1930s. She was my husband’s closest grandmother; they spent all their time together as she taught him how to cook and all the facts about life.”

As I read this woman’s email–which is longer than the blurb I share here–I was struck by how much of a legacy apraxia brings into our families. In looking at my own family, I can honestly say that Kate’s paternal grandmother had apraxia as well. There was often a loss of words, a hesitancy before speaking, a groping for the ‘right’ word. She has since passed on. But, her son–my husband (Kate’s dad)–became known as “Baby Ish-Ish.” That is, he pointed and seemed to ask, “What’s this [ish-ish]?” at nearly everything that caught his attention. He was old enough developmentally to speak clearly and ask questions, yet this was his preferred method. Later, his first word erupted, “clop-clop” for helicopter.

Don’t get me wrong; these differences in speech weren’t just “cute” and youthful; they had the definite underpinnings of something more going on. “Baby Ish-Ish” developed a lisp and was taken to speech therapy as a kiddo. In the 1970’s, mind you.

Remember the grandmother mentioned earlier who was born in the 1930’s? Ah yes, and my husband’s mother was born in 1941.  Back then–and even now–speech language therapy wasn’t readily available or deemed necessary. Sometimes it was just acknowledged (if that) and swept under the proverbial rug.

It wasn’t until 2007 that ASHA (American Speech-Hearing Association) came together to form their ad hoc committee on apraxia, giving the very disorder it’s current name: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) and a course of action for practicing SLPs. (Seehttp://www.asha.org/policy/TR2007-00278/#top)

That doesn’t mean that CAS didn’t exist until 2007, but that’s when the disorder was finally recognized as a legitimate and treatable childhood speech disorder. Ah, but take the time machine back to 1891 England and we meet a young boy named Charles who’s older  sister became his translator. Parents couldn’t figure out why their son couldn’t speak intelligibly, and so called on a doctor to assess him. After some intensive observations, it was determined that this little guy (seven years old at the time), probably suffered from CAS. Yet, back then what is now known as CAS, may have been called something entirely different.*

But back to the email that prompted today’s post: “I know the road isn’t easy….for you grandma, shine down bright today; you are an apraxia star. And for my son: you are mommy’s apraxia star and have came so far!”

For more information on the history of apraxia, please refer to SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012).

*Numerous names and terminology have been used to describe the phenonenon we know as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), including but not limited to: Little Broca’s Aphasia, Dyspraxia, selective mutism (a completely different disorder altogether), developmental apraxia of speech, developmental verbal apraxia (DVD), etc. When researching questions and treatments, be sure you are aware of these alternative terms.

[Helicopter clip art retrieved from www.clipartbest.com on 5.31.14]