This article is the last in a series of five that focuses on childhood apraxia of speech. If you are a parent, these suggestions can guide you on how to help your child with apraxia at home. They are also excellent for speech-language pathologists searching for ways to help their clients with apraxia. The final two components, Repetition, Chains of Three, are described in this article as well as additional suggestions for practicing at home.
Components of Speech Therapy for Childhood Apraxia
Keep sounds moving.
Keep them slow with
Intonation and rhythmic flow.
Core words, Cues to
Feel and see.
Repetition, Chains of three.
When is your child the most vocal? Watch carefully and wonder about how to keep vocalizing going. Whatever it is, participate in the game with your child, imitate him/her and occasionally make other sounds that your child does not say. Do not expect imitation. Just enjoy the moment and the interaction. Take advantage of times when you can laugh and squeal with delight together. Keep doing it. Vocalizing can be contagious, and it is during those times that you can model the speech sounds, syllables, and words for your child to practice. Repetition is key. Do any activities where your child can practice speech, repeating the same sounds and words frequently.
Sometimes, when children have severe speech and language problems, we become so focused on getting them to practice certain speech sounds that we forget about just having incredible VOCAL FUN! Verbalizing is hard work for children, so our job as parents, therapists, and teachers is to find ways to make the practice less of a chore and more of a sheer delight. Enjoyable practice will create confidence in kids and empower them to initiate practice on their own. Using sign language or gestures combined with speech sounds can also take the stress off, making speech production and speech movements easier.
Our songs and movies feature repetition which is excellent for children who need extensive sound sequencing practice. For example, the word, bye, is repeated 73 times in the Bye Song (Imitation Exploration Set 1). Listen to song samples of our songs here. Repetition is essential to progress, and songs can give children a fun way to practice. Speech therapy sessions are very important, but using songs and enjoyable activities at home can really help your child improve.
Chains of three
Because we know that moving from sound to sound is crucial in therapy for children with apraxia, I incorporate “chains of 3” in my songs as well as during play time and during daily routines. Many of our songs will blend sounds or words 3 times sequentially to give children additional practice moving from sound to sound. For children who say some single words but are not able to use phrases, we find that saying a single word in a chain of 3 helps children get ready for phrases. With chains of 3, such as “up up up” as you’re stacking blocks, children can practice the motor sequence of many syllables without the grammatic complexity that a phrase presents. Chains of 3 is simply a step between single word productions and phrases.
I hope that my suggestions and products give you the speech and language practice that helps your child along the way.
Additional Suggestions for how to help your child with apraxia at home
Seek an evaluation
As mentioned before, seek out an evaluation with a speech language pathologist (SLP). This should also include a hearing evaluation to rule out any hearing difficulty. Go here for a brief description of the different apraxia therapy approaches and ask your SLP about their experience in this field.
There are social media support groups for parents that may interest you. Feeling alone, trying to navigate the world of helping your child can be overwhelming. Get support when you need it.
Be as functional as you can in practice at home
Know that CAS is a motor speech disorder that needs frequent repetition and practice. Certainly speech therapy is essential, but practice at home that is functional and built into your child’s daily routines will make an immense difference in your child’s progress. Best wishes in your journey.