On October 23, 2010, Kansas City held its first annual Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech at Waterfall Park in Independence, Missouri. The event was attended by over 300 people and raised over $17,000. According to April Kempton, walk coordinator, donations are still being tallied and she anticipates the final total to be over $20,000. Proceeds from this walk will benefit the national CASANA research and education programs.
Apraxia of speech can affect children of all abilities regardless of other medical diagnosis or challenges. Individuals with apraxia of speech have difficulty imitating combination of consonants and vowels needed to verbal speech. Additional signs and symptoms include:
- Limited or little babbling as an infant
- Continuous grunting or pointing after age 2
- No difficulty with involuntary motor control for chewing or swallowing, etc.
- Saying the same word differently each time it’s said
- Errors in substitutions, omissions, additions and repetitions or simplifying words.
(For a more comprehensive list, visit the Early Signs and Symptoms page at the Kaufman Children’s Center)
Apraxia of speech is usually contributed to a person who has no other weakness, incoordination or paralysis of the speech muscles. For this reason, many individuals with Down syndrome may not be properly diagnosed and treated for apraxia. Low muscle tone and oral motor skills are common conditions for individuals with Down syndrome. As a result of the work by speech-language pathologist Libby Kumin, PhD and organizations like the Kaufman Children’s Center, individuals with Down syndrome are getting proper diagnosis for their speech disablities and are receiving the help they need.
The Kaufman Children’s Center is one of the leading organizations helping individuals with apraxia of speech. Because it is not a simple articulation disorder, traditional speech therapy methods do not resolve the problem. Nancy Kaufman’s, SLP, Speech Praxis Treatment Approach has been very successful in helping young children with apraxia. Her work is even being recognized by the Applied Verbal Behavior Program for children on the autism spectrum.
In addition to professional therapy, family and friends can help a child with apraxia at home or on outings. Most importantly, the child should be required to ask for things. Some sort of verbal attempt at a word should be made, even if it is not an accurate pronunciation. Anticipating your child’s needs and giving her what she wants will not reinforce the need for verbal speech. If necessary, make things more difficult to obtain by putting locks on cabinet doors or putting items out of reach. This is not done as a means to punish or belittle your child, but to help your child learn to use functional language without being prompted by you or others. Even young siblings and friends can help with these additional reinforcements:
- Sing familiar nursery rhymes or songs, by humming or using a favorite syllable (such as “dah”)
- Have your child “fill-in-the-blanks” from familiar books or songs
- Encourage imitation of different consonants and vowel patterns
- Reinforce verbal attempts with smiles, clapping, positive attention, and toys
Donations are still being accepted for the Kansas City Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech and can be made by clicking this link: Donations
For additional resources and information on apraxia of speech, visit:
- Apraxia Kids: Every Child Deserves a Voice
- Becoming Verbal and Intelligible by Kathleen Dauer, MS, CCC-SLP, available through Super Duper® Publications
- Easy Does it for Apraxia-Preschool available through LinguiSystems