Wondering How to Help a Child with Speech Apraxia? 3 Tips for Parents.
One of the things parents worry about most when they get a diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a feeling of helplessness. They know that speech therapy is crucial to helping a child communicate well, yet parents are often asking the speech therapists how to help a child with speech apraxia? After all, a parent is with their child way more often than a speech therapist could ever be. So home practice is very important.
Below the speech therapists at Therapy Works Together suggest a some strategies to help:
Tip 1: Repetitive Books Help A Lot
Books that have repeating words and phrases help make speech more familiar and over time, easier to practice and then easier to say. Parents need to know that it takes time and patience. Here are some more reasons books help children with apraxia:
They are Predictable: they have phrases that repeat and so give lots of opportunities to practice sounds they need to work on.
Remember the Story, Focus on Speech: Repetitive books can also be useful because they allow the child to know and remember the story more easily and then focus on speech sound production.
They Let Kids Fill in the Blank: When there are a lot of phrases that repeat, there are opportunities to leave part of the phrase open at the end for the child to start filling in the blank without directly saying the word. If parents have read the book many times, the child will know what word fills in the blank, and they may attempt it. They may feel brave enough to try saying the word and be empowered to communicate. Remember to pause to give adequate time for the child to motor plan the phrase or word.
We want confident communicators most of all! If you want to watch a short video about “cloze sentence tasks” (fancy speech therapy name for “fill in the blank”), watch this:
Here are some links to read alouds on YouTube to our favorite repetitive books. You can of course borrow the books from your local library and read them with your child at home:
If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Joffe Numeroff (or any of her books really)
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.
Hi, Pizza Man by Virginia Walter
Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed by Eileen Christelow
“Buzz, Buzz, Buzz” Went Bumblebee by Colin West – A great read aloud on YouTube with puppets too.
Tip 2: Acknowledge Feelings for Kids with Apraxia of Speech
One of the most important things that parents want to do is to offer a nurturing atmosphere for their children. Seeing a child become frustrated as a result of their communication difficulties is distressing, especially when they don’t know what to do about it. As much as a parent can, they can try to rally behind their child emotionally.
So how to help a child with speech apraxia with regards to feelings?
Acknowledge: “I know it must be so irritating that I don’t understand what you are saying.” Get on a child’s eye level and use language that they understand. Tell them that together you will find a way to bridge the communication gap.
Read a Book About Compassion: My Name is Kate is a book written by Michelle Moyal, founder and clinical director of Therapy Works Together. It’s a book about a determined little girl with apraxia who reminds us that everyone has something they are working on. You can download a free copy here 🙂
Tip 3: Use Their Whole Body to Teach Sounds
Different kids (and adults) learn differently. Some learn by listening, some by moving, some by writing and reading. Apraxia is a motor planning and sequencing disorder. It is not like a phonological speech disorder. Apraxia affects movement of the lips, tongue, jaw, and palate to produce accurate speech sounds. Since it affects the motor components of speech, it can be helpful to use movement and other learning strategies to help.
Visual feedback has been shown to be very effective as a treatment for apraxia of speech. If parents ask a child to imitate a word they produce, make sure to ask them to look at your mouth as you make the sound in the word. Say: “watch me” and then say the target word.
Therapy Works Together – Online Speech Therapy for Children and Adults
We care about every child and adult achieving their speech, language and communication goals. You can start speech therapy online now with a certified speech language therapist. We’ll discuss your personal needs, develop an individualized treatment plan, and schedule affordable online therapy sessions online at your convenience.