As adults, we take speech for granted. Adults can talk all day and sometimes not even think about it, so it’s difficult to comprehend why your child is struggling with something as natural as speech. However, in reality, the oral-motor skills needs to speak properly are very complicated – and this is evident when we see how long it takes for children to normally adopt sophisticated speech and be comfortable understanding complex vocabulary. Speech is more like learning a complicated ballet routine in which the pirouettes, plies and arabesques must be completed in a certain order, and much less like walking or running where movements are produced repetitively. You wouldn’t expect your child to dance very gracefully right away, and not without the proper practice.
Six Steps for Treating Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is treated using integral stimulation which is also referred to as the “watch me, listen, do as I do” approach using multimodal cues (gestural modes of body movement, pointing, sign, and conversational gestures) to teach the child new information. What appears to be a natural progression toward more complex speech patterns and movements for a normally developing child is a more effortful, demanding and slow process for a child affected by CAS. So learning this longer speech routine takes much more practice just as learning a dance for a recital would take more time for other children.
There are six significant steps for apraxia speech therapy:
- The child watches and listens and then produces the sound or movement simultaneously with the therapist.
- The therapist demonstrates, and then the child repeats the sound or movement simultaneously while the therapist mouths it.
- The therapist demonstrates and provides cues and the child repeats.
- The therapist demonstrates and the child repeats with no cues provided.
- The clinician elicits the sound or movement without demonstrating, e.g. asking a question with the child responding spontaneously.
- The child produces the sound or movement in less-directed situations with therapist’s encouragement in role-play or games.
As a concerned parent, it is most helpful if you reach out to a certified speech therapist who can provide a warm, patient and understanding environment for your child to overcome his or her apraxia. Chicago Speech Therapy provides in-home private speech therapy in the Chicagoland area and western suburbs. Speech therapy to treat childhood apraxia can be a long and repetitive process and finding a therapist you trust is even more important.