In a previous article, Will My Child with Apraxia Ever Talk?, I described the motor speech disorder, childhood apraxia of speech. In addition, the question of whether a child with apraxia will ever talk was addressed as well as the importance of seeking speech therapy. Because you are reading this article, you are obviously interested in knowing how to help a child with apraxia of speech. From research on CAS and from my extensive experience, I want to share the components to speech and language therapy for children with apraxia. For additional information, the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) has discussed these components as well. Go here to review the information from ASHA.
To describe the child apraxia therapy components, I wrote a poem/song to make our learning a bit more fun. 🙂 Read each component and think about ways you can incorporate these suggestions in your daily life with your child. If you are a speech language pathologist reading this, this poem can guide you in developing a therapy plan and in explaining speech therapy to parents of children on your caseload.
These components of speech therapy will guide you in how to help a child with apraxia of speech
(Can be sung to the tune, Rockin’ Robin)
Keep sounds moving.
Keep them slow with
Intonation and rhythmic flow.
Core words, Cues to
Feel and see.
Repetition, Chains of three.
In this article, I will describe the first component listed above of speech therapy for childhood apraxia. You can read additional blog posts describing all of the components.
Keep sounds moving.
Children with CAS need extensive practice speech, blending sounds from one to another. This ability to blend sounds is crucial to talking. When you think of words, they are simply groups of vowels and consonants combined together. Moving from vowel to vowel can create a word like, “ow,” (ah – oo). This sound combination can be incredibly powerful in a child’s world of owies, bumps, and scrapes.
Learning to combine a consonant with a vowel as in the word, “go,” takes a lot of coordination, movement of the tongue, lips, and palate, and control of the mechanisms for voicing and breathing. I often think about how complex the art of speaking is. We should be amazed at how children are able to figure out the power of talking.
Blend therapy practice with gross motor movement.
To create an effective therapy program, I like using fun, motor-based activities such as swinging or jumping to practice speech sound sequencing. After practicing a simple word or phrase, swing your child in the air. For example, you may want your child to attempt to say “bye.” Say a phrase such as, “I love you. Bye, bye,” and then swing him a few times. Because you want your child to say, “bye,” say that phrase again, but pause a bit before saying the final word, bye.
Simplify the sounds as needed
If he can only say “ah”, that tells you what you need to practice. He needs practice sequencing the vowels, ah and ee, to shape “eye” in “bye.” He also needs practice with the /b/ sound combined with any vowel. You may have to practice, “bah” as opposed to bye. The diphthong in the word, bye, can be too difficult. Simplifying words to make it more do-able for your child is totally ok. You can increase the complexity as he gets successful with the easier words.
Your child may be at a higher level than single words and is able to speak in phrases. Keep those sounds moving for more complex words and phrases. Multi-syllable words will often be challenging for your child. I often tap out the syllables on a child’s leg or shoulder to feel the syllables in a word.
Our Blast Off Board combines a Push-Point Action with speech sound sequencing.
A tool that may help you in speech and language therapy is my Blast Off Board Sound Sequencing Set. This set is excellent for children with speech disorders, especially those with apraxia. Go to my Blast Off Board Sound Sequencing Set shop here to read more about it. You can also view a video on my website to see how I use the Blast Off Board. The Blast Off Board is great for children with apraxia, but also any child who needs drill and practice of speech sounds, functional vocabulary, words, and phrases.
Get our free Checklists to see what your child is able to produce and the progress he or she is making
Go to Blast Off Board Downloads here to print out a variety of free checklists of the sound combinations, words, and phrases covered in our Blast Off Board sets. This will guide you in determining which sound combinations are difficult for your child. As a result, these checklists will help you determine which sound sequences to practice and in what order.
Throughout your daily routines, observe how your child currently communicates. Does he have any words? What are they, and how does he say them? Tuning your ear to hear exactly how your child says words will help you determine what your child needs to practice to get to a more accurate pronunciation. Always remember to keep sounds moving from one to the next as this is the essence of CAS therapy.