Extend your arms forward. Twist your palms down, then out. Cross one wrist over the other, clasp your hands, then pull them in. Now – lift your left index finger. Quick!
Did you have trouble? For children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), saying a simple word like “hi” may require the same level of effort as the backwards-reverse-finger lift, says Dave Hammer, vice-president of the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). Dave visited the JKI staff meeting this week to educate staff members on CAS.
CAS is a disorder where children have difficulty planning the motor movements for speech. (Adults sometimes have a similar problem following brain injury, but this is known as “acquired” apraxia.) CAS has not always been well-understood, but the field of speech-language pathology is taking steps to fix that. In 2007, our national organization, ASHA, released a guide to CAS, which Dave contributed to. The website for CASANA, Dave’s organization, also features a comprehensive explanation of CAS.
As speech-language pathologists, we at JKI strive to use evidence-based methods in treatment. For a disorder like CAS, where new findings are constantly emerging, it’s particularly essential to stay current with visits from experts like Dave. Dave gave us tips on diagnosing CAS, then spoke about his approach to treatment, which includes the following:
- Providing multi-sensory cuing (touches to the face, visually modeling the sound, verbally saying, “your POP sound!”)
- Using principles of motor learning (including distributed practice and providing specific feedback on the performance: “You put your lips together!”, rather than “Good job!”)
- Ensuring children “own” their speech practice
- Coaching parents to help kids practice at home
Dave left plenty of time to answer therapists’ questions and advise on specific cases. And of course, he dutifully posed for a photo with the JKI team.
We left invigorated and inspired. Thank you so much, Dave!
The following resources on CAS may be helpful:
- ASHA guide
- CASANA website
- CASANA iPad program for families to request an iPad (11/1/17 deadline has passed, but look for another round in the future)
- Small Steps in Speech and United Healthcare Children’s Foundation, which can provide funding for CAS treatment
- Support for Families, which offers a support group for parents of children with CAS