ApRaXiA mOnDaY: Back-to-School

By Leslie Lindsay

It’s that time of year again…and so we load up the backpacks and lay out a freshly pressed outfit, new shoes, and the IEP.

Wait. I don’t mean to be glib, but it’s definitely on the minds of us parents who have a child with special concerns. 017

Except me. No, I am not gloating. We definitely  have been there. We *are* there. Only the IEP is no longer for apraxia. It’s for “other health impaired’ (OHI), and no I am not skirting around the issue by semantics. Kate definitely had apraxia, and it most certainly impacted her ‘access to the cirriculum’ as is the criteria for establishing an IEP. She couldn’t participate in circle time very well, reading was a challenge, so was writing.

But then something clicked. It could have been the years of speech therapy. It could have been her motivation, but most likely, it was a combination of all of that along with Kate’s developmental age finally “catching up” with her peers.

For those of you who are curious, the “clicking” happened for us when Kate was a 2nd grader (about 8 years old). There’s a reason CAS is called “childhood apraxia of speech,” it is usally limited to those early years of a child’s speech-language development. But that’s not to imply that your child will simply, ‘outgrow’ apraxia. Nope. There is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes, namely: working directly (and exhaustively) with a qualified SLP. But parents and guardians aren’t off the hook just yet. CAS requires plenty of home practice.

At fourth grade (??!) Kate is still struggling with the remnants of CAS. Slower reader, yes. Poor speller–yep. But what she lacks in those areas, she makes up in imagination and creativity, and well-energy.

Which brings me to her next issue: AD/HD.

This is why the IEP reads, “Other Health Impairment” (OHI).” It’s the combination of residual apraxia and AD/HD that have given her that–cringe–label.

Back up a week and some change. We head over to the elementary school for the meet-and-greet welcome night. We peek into the library, the old classrooms of grades past, and then make our way to the 4th grade wing. Kate unloads her school supplies and shyly checks out the other students. Ah! A friend.

Her teacher comes by, hand outstretched, a big grin on her face as she introduces herself. And you know what? Kate smiles in response and in a clear voice says, “Hi. I’m Kate.”

A surge of pride swells within. Did I even mention apraxia? No. I can safely say that this little beast is well behind us.

Coming Up:

  • We will be taking a hiatus from apraxia on Mondays while shifting our efforts to AD/HD. In fact, it’s one of the most cited co-occuring disorders with apraxia/CAS. Those posts will run on TUESDAY.
  • There will be NO MORE “Apraxia Monday” blogs. But you can still find me on Twitter, @LeslieLindsay1 and also on the companion FB page, SPEAKING OF APRAXIA where I’ll continue to post blurbs, photos, updates, quotes, etc. on/about apraxia.
  • I’m always open to fresh, new voices! If you have a story, insight, worry, etc. about apraxia and would be interested in being a guest blogger, by all means, give me a a holler at leslie_lindsay@hotmail.com
  • cropped-9781606130612.jpg

 

Advertisements

ApraxiA MondaY: Summer Re-run Series–10 Things I Wished I’d Known

By Leslie Lindsay

This post first ‘aired’ in June 2013 on Playing with Words 365 hosted by Katie Yeh, CCC-SLP. Here it is again in case you missed it.

10 Things I Wished I had Known About Apraxia

When I look back over the years of our apraxia journey, I am reminded of the simple truths I wish I had known long ago, wholesome happy moments that really have little to do with apraxia and more to do with being a mother, a child, and a family. Here goes:DSCF2628

  • A child is a child no matter what. I may have wished for a perfect child who was above average in all their pursuits, but what fun is that? Perfection has its downsides; I’d rather a child full of whim and vigor, a child who needs to overcome obstacles to understand that not everything is easy-peasy achievable in this life.

 

  • I am a mother first and an advocate second. It may seem as if there’s little differentiation between the two, but I like to think that first I became a mother; providing snuggles and love, safety, food, shelter and clothing. And then I became an advocate, seeking ways to help my child be the best she can be in terms of her speech development.Kate Gymnastics and Graduation 013

 

  • As a family unit, we work together. Apraxia is a family affair. We learn, we help, and we interpret together. Sure, it can take its toll on us just like everything but it’s important that we all pull together to help our Team Apraxia.

 

  • Extended family is important, too. Don’t forget grandma and grandpa. Educating them about apraxia and how it affects your family is key, no matter how far or close you are in proximity. Extended family can provide a wealth of support—emotionally, physically, financially, and practically. Perhaps grandparents can assist with getting your child to and from speech therapy…maybe they have stories to share of past generations with speech troubles. Try educating them on apraxia and having them work with your child to practice their sounds. Maybe you just need to bend their ear.

 

  • Speech Apraxia is serious, but it’s not the end of the world. When I first heard the term ‘apraxia,’ I didn’t know what to think. Was this a big deal, a little deal, or somewhere in the middle? Was it like stuttering or a lisp? I was really in the dark. Had my diagnosing SLP told me, “this is serious, but we can work with your daughter to make it right,” I may not have freaked out.

 

  • Take what you find about CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech) on the Internet with a grain of salt. That, said there are a lot of great resources on the Internet…and some not-so-good resources. Be critical. Don’t assume that just because you read it on the Internet, it’s the be-all-end all. Ask questions, look at multiple sources, go to the main source. And beware of well-known, reputable websites as well. When I hopped on for the first time, I was overwhelmed and panicked. Would my child ever be able to talk? Would she ever be considered “normal?” I catastrophized, and wished I hadn’t.

 

  • It’s okay to get your child involved in activities with other kids. Encouraged, even!! At times you may be reluctant to keep your child away from social experiences in which he is required to speak (birthday parties without you, community education, preschool, library programs, sports, dance). While it may seem like you are being an advocate for your kiddo, it may actually hinder his ability to be in control of his own apraxia. It teaches self-monitoring, independence, and self-actualization. Equip your child with a few functional phrases beforehand, though (Eg.,“Wait!” “My name is ___,” “Hi,” “Want to play?” “Okay!” If your child is more nonverbal than that, teach appropriate body language like nodding or shaking her head, smiles, waves.)  2a (1)

 

  • It’s okay to ask for help. When you feel stuck, reach out. You may find that a group, your child’s SLP, or special needs teacher can help you identify ways to make things easier and better for you, your child, and your family. A tutor, babysitter, student (speech pathology, special/education, nursing, or retired SLP) can be a life-saver when it comes to practicing speech work, or just respite care. It takes a village to raise a child!

 

  • If you have other children, remember they need you, too. If you need to bring other children along to the speech waiting room, bring something fun the two (or three) of you can do together while you wait. Coloring books, reading, a small craft, puzzles, a quiet toy; or consider a quick dash to the playground or ice cream. You are just providing different needs for different children.

?????????????????????l

  • Childhood Apraxia of Speech Does Get Better! Not all kids will gain speech growth in the same manner, but they do get better. This is a wonderful thing! There’s a reason it’s called ‘childhood’—the duration of CAS is typically birth thru 8 years. It could be a little less or a little more, depending on your child’s personality, determination/motivation, overall intelligence, access to therapy, home practice, and co-occuring disorders like AD/HD, autism, Down’s syndrome, anxiety, etc. Sure, your child may slip up from time to time on challenging words, when they are tired or stressed, or learning a new set of vocabulary (math terms, history, science), but overall your child’s speech should be on-par with peers around age 8.

Most of all, I’ve learned that love and time really can “cure” a lot of things.

For more information, look for Leslie and SPEAKING OF APRAXIA on:

Bio: Leslie Lindsay is a former Mayo Clinic Child/Adolescent Psychiatric RN and a mother of a daughter with CAS. She is also the author of the Reader’s Choice Finalist & ForeWord Review Book of the Year Finalist SPEAKING OF APRAXIA (Woodbine House, 2012). She lives in Chicagoland with her family where she is busy working on her next book, this time in the fiction genre.  cropped-9781606130612.jpg

ApraxiA MondaY: Summer Re-Run Series: How your child can help YOU learn

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

Kids have a way of warming their parents’ hearts. They make them laugh, force them beyond their comfort zone, and give them a surge of pride.   Yet, children can also confuse and baffle.

When my then-2 ½ year old daughter, Kate was given the diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), I had little idea what that really meant, or how I might grow into a better parent from all of this. But I did. Kate taught me many valuable lessons.  Here are some common speech-language pathology “rules” in regards to CAS—and why those rules are so important. But, the ‘best’ message is the one your child may teach you.017

“Speech Rule” #1: Have your child repeat, repeat, repeat! Movement repetitions build strong motor planning/programming/gestures. Can you say that again?

 What your child might teach you:  Patience is the key. If I don’t repeat the words you just said, don’t give up on me. I am new to this and need some time to digest the information.

“Speech Rule” #2: 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. What color is that dog? Is the cup big or small?

What Your Child Might Teach You: It’s great that you want to work with me and help, but sometimes I get tired. Sometimes I just want to be quiet. Give me some down time, too. And most of all—don’t make me ‘perform’ in front of Grandma and Grandpa or the neighbors. I’m still pretty self-conscious about my speaking abilities—or lack thereof.

“Speech Rule” #3: Be goofy and funny. If you are relaxed and your kiddo is relaxed, words will come easier. Ask nonsensical questions to elicit a response, give silly options.

What Your Child Might Teach You: It’s good to chill-out sometimes, mom and dad. You take things too seriously sometimes. I love when we laugh together, we should do it more often.

“Speech Rule” #4: Make talking and speech practice more about your lifestyle and less about “sit and speak” time. In this sense, you “work it in” to your routine.

What Your Child Might Teach You: I spend enough time in speech and school. If you make me sit at the dining room table and go over speech words one more time, I might scream. If you make speech fun and functional then I just might go along with you.

“Speech Rule” #5: The more talking feels like work, the less willing your kiddo will be to do it.

What your Child Might Teach You: When you are worried and anxious about my talking, I feel it too. That doesn’t do either of us any good. Don’t make me ‘work’ for my snack, or something else I want. If I can’t say it perfectly, don’t stress; but do push me along sometimes. You’ll know when I’ve had enough.

“Speech Rule” #6: 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. [image source: http://www.playriffic.com on 8.11.14]

What your Child Might Teach You: I like when we sing songs together. It’s fun and silly and helps me feel confident. Plus, I think it’s cool when you teach me a new, grown-up word like ‘independent’ or ‘gymnasium.’ It’s fun to try!

“Speech Rule” #7: 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.

What your Child Might Teach You: I totally get that you want me to talk more. But I want more time just to be your little girl/boy. I might really like my speech-language therapist, but don’t worry, mom and dad: YOU are the center of my universe.

Leslie Author PicBio:Leslie Lindsay is a former child/adolescent psychiatric R.N. at the Mayo Clinic. Her daughter, Kate is a bright and creative 2nd grader resolving from childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). It is because of her that Leslie 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. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two daughters, and a basset hound where she writes full-time. Follow her blog, http://www.speakingofapraxia.com about all things early childhood and apraxia. Hop over to http://www.leslielindsay.com for author interviews, literary things, the writer’s life. “Like” her Facebook Page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Speaking-of-Apraxia-A-Parents-Guide-to-Childhood-Apraxia-of-Speech/235772599837084?ref=hl. Follow her on Twitter at @LeslieLindsay1cropped-9781606130612.jpg

 

ApRaXia MoNdAy: Summer Re-Run Series-Complementing your SLPs Efforts

By Leslie Lindsay

This was originally written as a guest post for a fellow SLP blogger, but there are so many gret things in this article I think you’ll appreciate as you team up with your child’s SLP.87c76-410_1target_group_kids_apparel_photography_los_angeles_mike_henry

Giving my Child a Voice: The Role of the Parent in Childhood Apraxia of Speech

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

Throughout human history, and long before, mothers have been making sacrifices for their young. They tend to them, they groom them, they take care of their basic needs. And so when my then-2 ½ year old daughter, Kate was given the diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), I had little idea what that really meant, or how I could help. Aside from the fact that I would be schlepping my daughter to and from speech therapy, I was dumbfounded. I shrugged, rolled my lips into a tight line and accepted the challenge; I would give my daughter the gift of voice—even if I didn’t know how.

Of course, the pediatric speech-language pathologist (SLP) we worked with privately for the next few years, coupled with the special-education preschool Kate attended five days a week really helped her thrive, socially and academically. I wasn’t carrying the brunt of apraxia alone, yet at times it felt that way. It really does take a village to raise a child. Along the way, I learned some valuable lessons, insights, and therapy ideas that may also help you along your apraxia journey.

Parenting Primer

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind as your “golden rules” in working withyour 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. What color is that dog? Is the cup big or small?
  • Be goofy and funny. If you are relaxed and your kiddo is relaxed, words will come easier. Ask nonsensical questions to elicit a response, give silly options.
  • Make talking and speech practice more about your lifestyle and less about “sit and speak” time. In this sense, you “work it in” to your routine.
  • Team up with your SLP. Have her give you ideas for homework and report back to her. Let her know what your kid does well at home and see if it works as well in the clinic. Think of your SLP-parent-kid connection as a circle with no beginning and no end; make it appear as if you are driving a fancy automatic car—smooth and effortless, even if it’s really a jumpy 5-speed jeep.
  • The more talking feels like work, the less willing your kid 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. As one apraxia parent named Mike shared, “An SLP is like a personal trainer at the gym. You go, your trainer works with you for an hour and teaches you things to do on your own, but it’s up to you to do the rest.”7f (1)

Once you have a good sense of these basics, it’s time to start incorporating moments in your daily routine which will help your child see that communication is indeed important and valuable. No worries, you don’t have to do anything fancy or special. Most of these ideas are free, or low-cost. Chances are, you already have a lot of toys, materials, and props at home that will spark your creativity. Remember, just about any toy or object can be used as a “therapy” tool.

  • 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.
  • 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 tree?” Practice saying “tree” or “green” 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!
  • Bake 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.

 And when it’s all said and done (yes, pun intended), you can sit back and be proud, not just of your child—but of your efforts as a parent as well. Who knew you had it in you?! Thanks for giving your child the gift of a lifetime; the gift of speech.

For more information, see SPEAKING OF APRAXIA: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech (Woodbine House, 2012) available thru Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble (in-store and on-line and thru http://www.woodbinehouse.com)

cropped-9781606130612.jpg