Our son, Thomas, will be four years old in May 2017. Not long before he turned three, he was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Tommy’s diagnosis may or may not be explained by the partial duplication of Chromosome 21 that he carries.
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association describe CAS as: “…a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words (because their) brain has problems planning to move the body parts, e.g., lips, jaw and tongue, needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.”
This 1 page document was created in order to set Thomas up for successful communication when he began a new preschool. It can be daunting for him to communicate with new people; as it can be for many young children, regardless of their ability to speak!
We understand it can be difficult to know how to communicate when you are not receiving the verbal interaction you would typically expect back, and by sharing this profile we hope it gives you some helpful advice and encouragement to interact with Thomas and other children (people!) like him.
You can either click on the image to enlarge it, or read the main points from the profile, below…
Thomas participates in regular speech therapy, and communicates using a combination of words, signs, gestures, tone, sounds and by using his talker (iPad).
There is so much to admire about Thomas! He is playful, imaginative and (most of the time) has an easy going nature. His cognitive skills are developing well, which means he is intelligent and has no trouble keeping up with the world around him. As his ability to communicate develops, we are learning that he has a pretty cheeky sense of humor, and that he is very creative in getting his message across.
There are some things we can share with you, which will help you communicate with Thomas:
He has exceptional understanding. Thomas will easily comprehend what you say and knows exactly what he wants to say, but often needs to be given time to respond. To encourage speech you can ask him open ended questions, and then wait patiently to see if he can, and would like to, respond verbally.
Thomas is very skilled at using his Talker. He can be hesitant at first to use it with new people, so please encourage him by ensuring he has access to it at all times. Modelling the use of his Talker will really help too.
Thomas may use a small amount of sign language to communicate. Please check his bag for pictures of the signs he uses most often.
You can help Thomas by using a combination of words, gestures, signs and his Talker to communicate with him. This will encourage him to use all of his available methods of communication back with you.
Thomas is able to use the verbal words he has in extremely creative ways and combinations, however speaking can be exhausting for him. You may notice that a leap in language or a particularly talkative day often coincides with extra tiredness and irritability.
Thomas wants to be included, understood and once comfortable with someone, really enjoys communicating with them.
And there are things that you can do if communication breaks down:
Make eye contact, come down to his level & ask him to repeat himself. Offer your understanding of what he has said so that he can either confirm, or attempt to correct you. Ask him if he can show you what he means with his hands, or by taking you somewhere.
Slow down and watch Thomas for facial expressions, gestures and use of tone, as these can offer clues to what he is trying to communicate.
Use closed questions with two or three simple choices if he becomes frustrated. E.G ask him ‘On, or Off?’ and Thomas may verbally respond or indicate a choice.
When Thomas cannot say the word he wants to use, he may say the opposite word prefaced with ‘not’, e.g. ‘not hot = cold’. Please listen out for ‘not’.
Give him 3 options and give him a finger to select for each option, such as:
1) Rest … 2) Go out with Dad … 3) Go out with Mum
Tommy’s verbal output is increasing rapidly at home with us now, and we expect that with continued therapy that those improvements will be exponential. We are so proud of the hard work he has put into make his voice heard. Thank you for taking the time to understand more about Apraxia, and how you can include Tommy in the conversation around him.
Love Lans x