Four ways to support your young child if you suspect they may have Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
- If your child has been receiving on-going speech therapy and now you have concern’s regarding your child’s speech disorder may be CAS, you should first discuss your concerns with your current speech therapist. This will open up the dialog on CAS and allow for you both to share with each other information. CAS is a dynamic and complex disorder that should be evaluated by a licensed speech language pathologist who has extensive experience evaluating and treating CAS. Ask your therapist if they feel your child would benefit from a CAS evaluation. If you have had a previous speech evaluation and feel you still have questions and concerns regarding CAS, this may be a good time to ask if you need a re-evaluation. If you are not already receiving homework ideas ask your therapist what can you work on at home to best support your child’s speech development.
- Create a positive and supportive environment. For many young children, having a speech disorder may feel like having duct tape over the mouth. Your child may know what they want to say but have trouble forming the words. Can you imagine the frustration this may cause your child? Put their frustrations into words and say the feelings you think they may be feeling for them outload. This will validate how they feel and let them know you acknowledge their feeling. They may look at other family members and wonder why speaking seems to come so easy it seems to be and not understand why it’s so hard for them. You can create a positive and supportive environment by giving your child lots of praise when they make vocalizations. Let your child know their attempts are heard and appreciated! Another way to support your child is to take any pressure off them to say words. Don’t ask your child to say words. My rule of thumb is don’t say “say..”. Just model sounds face to face so they can see your mouth formations and wait. If your child does not imitate you it’s ok
- Although the internet can be confusing and sometimes overwhelming when your researching information, it can also provide you with powerful resources. There are many sites devoted to answering parent questions on CAS. Do your research and develop questions to discuss with your child’s therapist. By putting all your fears and concerns out there for your therapist, you can together discuss your child’s strengths and areas of concern to work together towards the solution.
- Give your child a chance to imitate sounds at the speech level they are most proficient at. Does your child make mostly syllable shapes sounds such as up, go, ah, oh, da, ma? If so give multiple opportunities to keep making these sounds and model other syllable shapes with the same consonants but try other vowels. If your child can say da or dada, try for do or duh. spontaneously is not the same as being asked to say something on command. Saying something on command is more challenging for a child with CAS, so don’t expect your child to easily repeat words you may have heard. Ask your speech therapist for a list of sounds, syllables or words they feel would be appropriate to practice at home and ideas for how you can get your child to imitate you without you asking them to talk.