If you are reading this chances are you have entered a journey of discovery and learning after your child has finally received an accurate diagnostic addressing speech delays, specifically expressive skills. One of the best news about a diagnosis of apraxia is that your child’s receptive language skills are likely to be typical. Your child therefore understands at the level of peers their age. With this in mind let’s explore ten specific things you can do to assist your child in overcoming communication barriers.
Don’t Dismiss Their Ability to Comprehend Language
It is really tempting to disregard our child’s ability to comprehend when they are unable to express all that they feel, see and need. As a parent you need to constantly remind yourself that Apraxia is a motor disorder totally unrelated to your child’s intelligence and maturity. Take time to engage in age- appropriate conversations with your little one even when he is not quite able to respond. By doing so, you create opportunities for learning and bonding that will set the foundation needed for effective therapy.
Partner With a Speech Pathologist Who is Willing to Take Multiple Approaches
Each child is unique in the way they respond to therapy. When you are facing a diagnosis of apraxia it is important that your therapist is open to try multiple approaches to allow your little one the best opportunity to overcome their communication barriers. Generally, the most successful therapists are those that are open to experimentation with the end goal of finding just the right combination of approaches to help your child unlock their full potential.
Find Support in Community
Both for your sake and for the sake of your child it is essential that you connect with other parents in the same journey. Having opportunities to engage will let you compare notes while allowing your child to find a social setting of full acceptance where other tools of communication can replace speech and allow for a fully immersive social experience.
Visual, Tactile and Kinesthetic Queuing Are Essential
Overcoming apraxia is all about teaching the brain to make motor connections. Providing feedback that is visual, tactile and kinesthetic is central to helping your little one fully grasp concepts and movements that will allow them to make the appropriate string of sounds. When you speak face them directly, give them a chance to touch your throat and lips when you enunciate a word and teach them to feel their lips as they form new words. Similarly, you can guide their lips with your mouth into shapes that help form certain sounds.
Create Meaningful Routines Aimed at Meeting Basic Needs
Inability to convey a need does not diminish the importance of said need. As a parent of a child with Apraxia you need to consider how communication empowers us in securing basic needs. To minimize frustration you would do well to provide basic routines that give your child access to food, rest, and hygiene on a regular basis without forcing him or her to communicate the immediacy of their need. In doing so, you reduce their stress level allowing for moments of calm that are conducive to learning.
Use Music, Rhythm and Melody
The parts of our brain used for music are different than those used for speech. Because of this, many patients with Parkinson’s observe significant improvement when singing versus speaking. Little patients with apraxia can use music therapy to help them bypass certain areas of the brain when learning to form new words.
Give Your Child Alternative Means of Communication
We can’t say it enough. Your child is as smart and developed as someone whose speech is typical. Because their intellectual development is comparable to that of their peers you need to give them the means to communicate now. Sign Language is a great transitional tool that gives little ones the opportunity to have another avenue of communication until they are able to fully form their words. Our Premium Baby Sign Language Kit is often used by speech pathologists to introduce little ones with Apraxia to signs and their associations to real-life image and to give them access to simple songs that can be associated to words that are essential to their daily activities.
A Pointing Board Can Help
Have a pointing board available for your child to give them a path of least resistance for accessing immediate needs. Teach them to form phrases and concepts through pointing. Many of our friends in the Apraxia community use the baby sign language flash card deck as their pointing tool to play games while allowing their toddler to practice new words as assigned by their therapist.
Give Your Child Non-Therapeutic Time
If your child enjoys quiet play don’t force them into verbal engagement at all times. It is quite common for parents of children with apraxia to try to overcompensate and thus take away normal play engagement that is not dependent on verbal interaction.
Don’t let impatience take over your life. The fact is, most children with apraxia eventually overcome and are able to fully communicate at the same level as their peers.
We are thankful that you are visiting our website. Our digital resources are available at no cost and your can customize them to meet the specific needs of your child. We are here to help and we look forward to hearing how the Baby Sign Language Kit is helping your child overcome the challenges of apraxia of speech.