Thursday, May 18, 2017

My Favorite Apraxia Products

Welcome to therapy Thursday! This is the day that I share a tip based upon my experience as a mother of a child with special needs and a pediatric speech-language pathologist. Today's tip is:

My Favorite Childhood Apraxia of Speech Products for Beginning Speakers

May 14th was Apraxia Awareness Day, so the last few posts of mine have been on the topic of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). As a speech-language pathologist, I have treated children as young as 2 for suspected or diagnosed childhood apraxia of speech. You might think that doing apraxia treatment for young 2 year olds is impossible, but it is not. Below are some of my favorite resources for therapists (or possibly parents) to help guide therapy.

-Kaufman Speech Praxis Kit 1:
I absolutely love this kit available here. It was designed by Nancy Kaufman, who is a speech-language pathologist. The Kit 1 has words and early developing sounds that are appropriate for toddlers and pre-schoolers such as /h/, /b/, or /w/.

The kit features picture flashcards that break down words by their structure. There are consonant-vowel words, vowel-consonant words, and consonant-vowel consonant-vowel words, for example. On one side of the card is a picture for the child to see while the back shows the adult how to model successive approximations to shape correct word forms for the child.

Some people do not like doing flashcards in therapy, but this kit is more than just a set of flashcards. Although, I can get many young children to sit and do these flashcards successfully. The cards essentially provide a word list for each word structure group. I like to find objects that can reiterate the words on flashcards (i.e. a girl doll for mommy, a cow for moo-moo, or a dog figure for puppy) in order to get more practice with these word targets. This kit has been my number 1 resource in therapy sessions as it helps me choose word targets and continue moving the child through more complex words structures. There is also a small manual included with tips and instructions on how to use this treatment approach.

-Speech Steps:
Speech Steps is a book with reproducible pages that target specific words and sounds. Like the Kaufman Kit 1, it does have many early developing sounds that are appropriate for young children including just vowel targets. It also targets C-V (consonant-vowel), CVC, CVCV, etc., so that you can practice making more complex word structures. Each worksheet page has 5 steps drawn on it. On each step is a word with a picture for the child to say. The workbook is organized by sounds (i.e. initial, medial, and final /p/).

In therapy, I copy a particular page to go along with what I am wanting the child to work on. I find the actual steps on the page as highly motivating. We sometimes just use our fingers and climb up each step while saying the word. Because there are only 5 words/pictures on a page, it is usually short enough for even 2 year olds to complete if we add in stickers, coloring, or stamps. This is just another tool I use in sessions along with everything else. But, I do like having some sort of paper to leave with the family so they can remember some word targets or possibly go over it again with their child on another day. This book is available from Super Duper.

-No-Glamour Vowels:
This is another reproducible book that focuses only on vowels. My experience with toddlers with suspected or diagnosed CAS has been that many have missing vowels or have vowels that are "off." This workbook is a very thorough resource for vowel work. First, it has a wonderful vowel production screener, which is really helpful when determining which vowels the child can and cannot say. It targets all vowels both long and short as well as diphthong vowels (ow, oy). Each vowel is introduced in the book giving statistics for when it should be mastered, a description of how this vowel is made with your mouth, and ways to elicit the vowels. There are also activity lists giving examples of how you can target a particular vowel in play or a fun activity. Another great feature is a word list for each vowel.

The meat of the book is reproducible picture pages for each vowel that can be used a few different ways. In therapy, I have used the pictures to make little books for word repetition. Again, I like to have some physical handouts or papers for parents to review what we have done, so this is a great resource. Like many of the other products, this book targets vowels in word structures such as VC, CV, CCV, CVC, and up to harder structures. This book is also written by speech-language pathologists and is available from LinguiSystems.

-Word FLIPS for Learning Intelligible Production of Speech:
Word FLIPS is a great product that is perfect for repetition. It has a picture representing a word on a card times three. There are three sets of cards spiral bounded so that the child or adult can flip the first, second, and third picture cards over one at a time. Though this picture above shows three different pictures, there are three sets of the same pictures. These multiple picture sets are great for getting those repetitions we try so hard to get in CAS therapy.

Another great thing about this for toddlers with CAS is that it contains very simple words that are CV (Consonant-vowel). This is perfect when a child is targeting CV and you want to add in another way to practice these words. I have found this book to be helpful and motivating for the children in therapy. This product is also available from Super Duper.

-Consonant and Vowel Letters:

When I am treating 2 year olds with suspected or confirmed CAS, some have a very limited number of consonant sounds. Because of this, I often use alphabet letter based activities to work on imitating simple consonants in isolation ("b-b-b"). Using actual letters while working on simple consonant sound imitation pairs the sound with the letter. While a 2 year old doesn't quite understand yet that a letter makes a sound, I just want to expose them to this connection early into the treatment process. This can help lay a foundation for reading, phonics, and spelling which are problem areas for these children later on. I have had many 2 year olds who will pick up a letter k magnet and make the appropriate /k/ sound after doing this for a few minutes in each session for a few weeks. Seeing them memorize sounds to letters lets me know that this strategy is doing double duty, and I hope it helps them later on it life. The letters in this picture are available from Lakeshore Learning.

Final Thoughts
CAS therapy requires a very well planned and systematic treatment approach. There are several products available to help therapists or parents along with other strategies using toys and books. These are some products I have found useful. I hope that if you are seeing young CAS children that you might find them helpful too.

(These are genuinely my own opinions. I am receiving no compensation for promoting these items.)

Therapy Thursday is for educational purposes only and not intended as therapeutic advice.

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