If you are a parent or an educator of a child with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), the journey to help them find their voice may often feel overwhelming and challenging. But do not be disheartened! There are various proven strategies and techniques to support their speech growth. In this blog post, we will explore the essentials of CAS and specifically discuss the power of music.
What is childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)?
Children with CAS have a speech disorder that affects how they plan the movements required for speech. What appears to be an easy task for most kids can be impossible for others. Children with CAS need practice combining sounds to say words and phrases. One site that may be helpful to you is Apraxia-Kids. Another approach to treatment of apraxia is called PROMPT. You can find information here about that approach. https://promptinstitute.com/
As a speech-language pathologist who worked with very young children for years, diagnosing apraxia with children who are not yet speaking can be difficult. There can be so many possible reasons why a child is not speaking. I hesitate attaching the label of apraxia of speech to children who are not imitating or who cannot use words to communicate. But there are some children who attempt to imitate who struggle to produce vowel sounds and vowel combinations and to move from vowels to consonants, consonants to vowels, all with the purpose of shaping words. Motor planning is affected. Even if a diagnosis of apraxia is not given, these suggestions can be helpful for you.
How can I help my child with apraxia of speech?
Your child will benefit from lots of verbal practice. I am guessing that you have tried many things, but getting a child to practice something that is difficult is often easier said than done. Speech and language therapy will be helpful, and I encourage you to locate a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in your area who can guide you.
From the research I have read and from experience, I have created a little poem of important components to speech and language therapy for children with apraxia.
Keep sounds moving.
Keep them slow with
Intonation and rhythmic flow.
Core words, Cues to
Feel and see.
Repetition, Chains of three.
These 7 tips are more fully explained in the blog articles focused specifically for children with apraxia. Go here to read those articles. The suggestions below focus on using music to enhance the speech and language therapy for children with apraxia.
Use intonation and rhythmic flow to assist with sound blending.
There are many ways to create a joy for vocalizing, but one excellent tool for children is music. Practicing intonation and rhythm will help a child understand the normal inflectional flow of speech. Our Talk It Rock It songs can provide verbal practice that is enjoyable and that focuses on sound blending from vowels and vowel combinations to consonant-vowels (CV), CVCV structures, words, and phrases. You can listen to song samples, see the visuals that illustrate the songs, and watch a video that describes our songs. Go to our songs to find out more. Our songs are great, but there are many other ways to incorporate music into your day.
- Sing your own songs throughout the day.
More than anything, we encourage you to make a song out of every moment. We believe that “Every moment is a note, every situation is a song, and every person is a player.” When you go to the park, drive in the car, go to the store, tuck your child in at night, eat together, etc., sing about what you are doing. Sing at the level your child can understand and handle verbally. When a child is actively involved in music, it activates his/her whole brain. You will do nothing but good things for a child if you present things musically.
- When you sing songs, sing them in a manner that is within your child’s verbal ability.
My motto is, “Sing a song that your child can simply sing.” If that means vowel sounds, sing vowels, blending them together. You may want to sing consonant-vowels like “ba ba ba,” or “na na na” to typical children’s songs like The Wheels on the Bus. Classical pieces like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Handel’s Water Music are also excellent for singing vowels and consonants blended together. Or perhaps try our instrumental-only tracks on our song sets. Sing whatever sounds your child can say.
- Make noises!
Your child may benefit from hearing you make noises like sneezing, coughing, and kissing as modeled in our song, Noisy, Noisy, Noisy (Imitation Exploration Set 1). Animal noises such as the songs, Puppy, Puppy, Puppy, Animals (Imitation Exploration Set 1), Yee Haw (Imitation Exploration Set 1), or many of the animal sound songs in Animals Movin’ and Groovin’ Set 5 are also great to practice. You could also use our Animal Faces to encourage your child to imitate animal sounds. You can watch a video and read descriptions of the animal faces at our Animal Faces shop.
- Be a rock star!
If your child is able to produce some simple consonant-vowel sounds such as mama, dada, or baba, you may want to lose yourself in singing some Beach Boy songs, pretending you are the background singer. Those songs are filled with vowels and consonant-vowel structures. We have used this concept of consonant-vowel practice and our songs are packed with them. Some examples are The New BMW, Tongue Tip Time,(Imitation Exploration Set 1), I Dressed Myself (Rock & Roll with a Language Goal Set 2), Singing a Song (Rock & Roll with a Language Goal Set 2), and many of the songs in Drills for Sounds Set 3.
- Check out our speech practice goals featured in our songs sets. Specific Speech Sound Practice and Imitation of Sounds, Words, and Phrases is heavily emphasized in our song sets. Many of our songs vary in complexity from single sound productions to simple phrases all within the same song. Our songs also often incorporate “chains of three.” This technique repeats the same word three times sequentially to help children with imitation of sounds in running speech without the complexity of using phrases. The abbreviated titles of the song sets below are: IE-Imitation Exploration Set 1, RR- Rock and Roll with a Language Goal Set 2, DS – Drills for Sounds Set 3, AMG- Animals Movin’ and Groovin’. The songs listed below are excellent for children with apraxia of speech.
Noises and Animal sounds IE1 – Animals; Noisy, Noisy, Noisy; Puppy, Puppy, Puppy IE2 – Yee Haw DS1– Ha, Ha, Ha; Howls and Hoots AMG – Hooray!, On the Farm, Ah Choo!, Who Are You?, Animal Jive
Vowels and Vowel + Vowel combinations- IE1 – Monkey Song; Go in My Car RR1– Bananas DS1– Vowels; Howls and Hoots; Wheels DS2 – Ride the Horsie
CV words and nonsense sounds, CVC words, and Chains of Three
B, P, and M sounds IE1– Bye Bye; Baby Blowing Bubbles; Puppy, Puppy, Puppy IE2 – The New BMW RR2 – Ball, Ball, Ball DS1 – A Monkey, A Moose, A Mouse DS2 – Bus, Boat, Bike
W and Y sounds IE2 – The New BMW DS1 – Wheels DS2 – Ride the Horsie
N, T, and D sounds IE2 – Tongue Tip Time RR1 – I Dressed Myself; Uh-Oh RR2 – Singing a Song DS1 – No, No, Nigh, Night
K and G sounds IE1 – Go in My Car IE2– Yee Haw RR1 – Go DS1 – Happy Birthday Cake and Cookies
H sound DS1 – Ha, Ha, Ha; Howls and Hoots RR2 – Ha Ha Hiding; Help Me Mama
F and SH sounds DS1 – Fish, Sharks, and Shells
CH and J sounds IE1 – Express Train DS1 – Jump on the Choo Choo L sound RR1 – I Love
S sound DS1 – Hissing Snake
Final Consonants in words IE1 – Put the Sound on the End DS2 – Bus, Boat, Bike; I See a Bug
VCV productions – IE2– Gonna Get You C1V1C2V2 –
B, G, CH combinations IE2 – Booga Choo Choo
CH+W combinations IE1 – Express Train
T +N and D + Y combinations DS1 – Tiny Tony
G+N combinations– RR2– Ha Ha Hiding
W+R combinations- RR2 – Where Did My Shoes Go?
H+G combinations- DS2 – I See a Bug
Multiple consonant combinations DS2 – Let Me Hear You Say
Isolated sounds, Single word repetition – CVC and CVCV, and Chains of 3- IE1– Milk and Juice; Baby Blowing Bubbles; Put the Sound on the End IE2 – Hi; Let’s Eat RR1 – I Love DS1 – Jump on the Choo Choo; Happy Birthday Cake and Cookies; A Monkey, A Moose, A Mouse; Tiny Tony; Fish, Sharks, and Shells DS2 – Bus, Boat, Bike; Hippopotamus; Talk and Look; I See a Bug
2-word phrase repetition and 2-4 syllable words- IE1 – Puppy, Puppy, Puppy; Barefoot Toes; Bye Bye IE2 – Hi RR1 – Cheese and Macaroni; Bananas; No Way RR2 – Where Did My Shoes Go?; Snowman; Alphabeat DS1 – Happy Birthday Cake and Cookies; A Monkey, A Moose, A Mouse; Wheels DS2 – Bus, Boat, Bike; I See a Bug; Let Me Hear You Say; Talk and Look; In, Out, Up, Down AMG – Animal School, Walking Elephants Consonant sound blending DS1 – A Monkey, A Moose, A Mouse.
Teaching a child with apraxia to talk is undoubtedly a challenging task, but with persistence, patience, and the right support, significant progress can be achieved. Incorporating tools such as music and providing ample opportunities for repetition and practice are essential to success. Additionally, working closely with SLPs and other professionals can help create a comprehensive and effective therapy plan tailored to the child’s unique needs. Remember that every child’s journey with CAS is different, and their progress may take time. Celebrating small milestones and maintaining a positive attitude will go a long way in helping the child improve their speech and language abilities.