CASANA Awards Treatment Research Grant to Speech and Stuttering Institute in Toronto, Ontario

Pittsburgh, PA, July 26, 2011—The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA), has awarded a Treatment Research Grant to Dr. Aravind Namasivayam of the Speech and Stuttering Institute in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for his proposal, “Exploring the Relationship Between Treatment Intensity and Treatment Outcomes for Children with Apraxia of Speech.” Other co-investigators on this grant include Dr. Ben Maasen of the University of Groningen, The Netherlands; Dr. Pascal van Lieshout of the University of Toronto, Canada; and Margit Pukonen, M.H.Sc. of the Speech and Stuttering Institute.

“There are a number of factors that may contribute to treatment outcomes in children with Apraxia of Speech (CAS) ranging from frequency, intensity and type of practice sessions, to the amount of home practice, parental participation, parental skill, and treatment fidelity. Yet, there is little empirical data regarding how these factors actually contribute to treatment effectiveness,” said Dr. Namasivayam, the principal investigator on the funded study. “Having this information will help us refine and guide clinical practice.”

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a very challenging and complicated speech disorder in children, making it difficult or impossible for children to accurately produce sounds, syllables and/or words despite having a good understanding of language. This research project, funded by CASANA through its Treatment Research Grant Program, will be part of a multi-center, large-scale study that is currently underway and was initiated by the Ministry of Child and Youth Services in Ontario, Canada. Researchers expect approximately 200 children with motor speech problems to participate in this larger study. The CASANA grant will be used specifically for the investigation of a subpopulation of two to five-year-old children, demonstrating characteristics of CAS. Highly trained speech-language pathologists will deliver a treatment program – Motor Speech Treatment Protocol (MSTP) Based Intervention – in a randomly assigned high or low intensity condition. The MSTP intervention combines features of several speech therapy approaches for CAS and delivers them according to general principles of speech skill motor learning. Researchers will then evaluate the magnitude of treatment effects across variations in treatment intensity as well as other factors such as parental involvement.

Dr. Namasivayam feels that the study will contribute significantly to the understanding of how the service delivery models, for example with respect to treatment intensity, affect treatment outcomes in CAS. With this information, researchers could then justify treatment schedule changes and fund allocation for treatment of this population. Findings of the study will yield important information relating to the impact of parental training and home practice on treatment success. He believes this information can be discussed with parents to then motivate and increase their participation in the therapy process.

“Information on magnitude of treatment effects for outcome measure related to speech intelligibility and functional communication is limited for this population,” said Dr. Namasivayam.

He believes knowing the magnitude of treatment effects is important for two reasons. First, it can be used to set appropriate levels of clinician and parental expectations prior to treatment and second, it allows for planning of future studies in terms of study design and sample size.

If successful, Dr. Namasivayam hopes to continue several lines of research based on the factors that may contribute to treatment outcomes in children. “We would like to investigate how a clinician’s skill level and training may affect treatment outcomes or how a clinician’s accuracy, timing, and type of cueing in treatment alters treatment outcomes for CAS,” he said. “These are critical follow-up questions to this project.”

The proposal, awarded to Dr. Namasivayam, was through a competitive application process managed by CASANA’s Research Review Committee. Funds for CASANA research projects are generated by the efforts of volunteers and donors in the Walk for Children with Apraxia.

“Our research team would like to extend our sincere thanks to CASANA for providing us with the opportunity to contribute to this cause,” said Dr. Namasivayam. “Without the financial help of CASANA we would not be able to identify, analyze, and report on data relating to treatment effects in this subpopulation of CAS within the larger motor speech research study.”

ABOUT CASANA

The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) is the only national non-profit public charity exclusively dedicated to the needs and interests of children with apraxia of speech and their families. CASANA, founded in 2000, strives to improve the systems of support in the lives of children with apraxia so that each child is afforded their best opportunity to develop speech and to achieve to their potential. CASANA works toward this mission through promoting international awareness of childhood apraxia of speech; providing high quality information and support to families and professionals; conducting multiple educational workshops, webinars and conferences each year; and supporting as well as funding treatment research. For more information on CASANA and Childhood Apraxia of Speech, visit the Apraxia-KIDS website at https://www.apraxia-kids.org.

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Parent Prospective: A Father’s Connection

(Originally appeared in the Franziska Racker Centers‘ Winter 2011 Newsletter. Reprinted with permission.)

From July 7-9, 2011, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend the National Conference on the Childhood Apraxia of Speech with the help of Racker Centers where my son has been receiving services. Before attending the conference, I knew very little of my son’s speech disorder and I had no idea what to expect. I was amazed at the end of the weekend how much information there was on this disorder, how widespread Apraxia of Speech is and how much I learned. In my eyes, this conference was the equivalent to many football clinics I’ve attended. At those clinics, I had the opportunity to listen to some of the best coaches the game had to offer. This particular weekend in San Diego I was able to listen to some of the best speech pathologists in the country talking specifically about my son’s condition.

I took full advantage of everything the conference had to offer. I attended every session I possibly could. In between sessions I searched out a few of the speakers and asked them very specific questions regarding my little guy. Each and every person I spoke with was very accommodating of their time and offered unbelievable insight. I was very fortunate to engage in conversations with families and speech pathologists from all over the country, such as Texas, California, Oregon and Washington. We shared our stories and insights to our child’s speech disorder. One thing I learned from all of those conversations is that my family is extremely fortunate to live in a supportive community that provides many of the necessary services in assisting our son.

One particular family whom I met at the conference, which stood out, is Jeff Rainess and his family from New Jersey. Jeff is a high school football coach and like me, just a regular guy. He stood up and shared his family’s emotional and inspirational story. He spoke for approximately thirty minutes as he shared the commitment and sacrifices his family has made in the pursuit of treating their son. Jeff was passionate in delivering his speech. This was the best session of the weekend for me because Jeff was talking my language…..I felt like he was speaking to me. He wasn’t using four and five syllable words (that some of the specialists use) in describing his son’s condition and treatment. He was a ‘real’ person, from a ‘real’ family, sharing a ‘real’ story. At one point Jeff’s son stood next to him and said a few words that a couple of years ago would have been very difficult to accomplish. Jeff and I have maintained contact since the conference and I am hopeful that our families will reconnect at the 2012 conference in Boston, MA.

MORE ON THOMAS AND JEFF…

THOMAS MURPHY

Thomas and Judy Murphy noticed that their son, Thomas, was not reaching milestones in the same manner as his older sisters had when Thomas was about one year old. They remember all of the comments that people would say, “he’s a boy,” “he’ll catch up,” “don’t compare siblings.” However, they had no question in their minds that Thomas was delayed. His speech was the most noticeable. Thomas and Judy began the process of searching for help. Thomas received Early Intervention services and was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech by the age of two. It was soon after that the Murphy’ discovered Racker Centers’ programs. According to Thomas, “Racker Centers and the amazing staff, providers and teachers have been a God-send to us. The ‘team’ as we call them, is a collective advocate for our son. We work together passing suggestions and experience.” He continues, “We are blessed to have the folks at Racker Centers in Thomas’s life. Having all of his daily providers in one place working together is such a benefit to him and to us.”

JEFF RAINESS

Dave Hammer, a noted expert on Apraxia of Speech, along with Kathy and Sharon from the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America CASANA, approached Jeff two years ago to help with a session at the annual conference. He and his wife, Jennifer, are very proud to be associated with CASANA and honored they have been asked to speak at the last two annual conferences. They have worked very hard at finding the best approach to battle their son Jake’s Apraxia, and CASANA has been a huge part of that. Jeff states, “Our son, Jake, is 7 years old now. He still goes to therapy for speech. He is a very normal little boy with a great vocabulary. His speech isn’t perfect, but you can understand everything he says. He is entering the 1st grade this year and is in a typical classroom. He loves sports, the Wii and playing with his brother and sister. He came to my HS football game the other day and promptly told me afterwards that, ‘Daddy, your defense REALLY needs work!’ He’s right- and it was sure wonderful to hear him say it.”

CASANA Awards Treatment Research Grant to Yale Univeristy/Haskins Laboratory

Pittsburgh, PA, July 5, 2011—The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA), through its Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) Treatment Research Grant Program, has awarded Jonathan Preston, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, and Nicole Landi, Ph.D., on their collaborative proposal, Biofeedback Training for Children with Persisting CAS: Articulatory and Neural Changes.

“There is substantial need for developing evidence-based interventions for children with CAS. Some children may show relatively slow gains in therapy, and speech production problems may persist into adolescence,” said Dr. Preston, a Scientist at Haskins Laboratory and Assistant Professor for Communication Disorders at Southern Connecticut University.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a very challenging and complicated speech disorder in children, making it difficult or impossible for children to accurately produce sounds, syllables and/or words despite having a good understanding of language. This novel research, funded by CASANA, will examine whether visual biofeedback of speech movements improves the accuracy and consistency of speech for school-age children with apraxia of speech. The goal of the biofeedback, which will be provided through a form of ultrasound, is to increase the participants’ awareness of the position of the tongue during speaking tasks by providing visual information that coincides in time with the child’s speech movements. Participants will receive pre-treatment and post-treatment testing of speech and language. The biofeedback treatment will be provided twice a week for duration of nine weeks.

Dr. Preston, the principal investigator on the funded study, says he hopes to demonstrate that persisting speech problems associated with CAS can be effectively treated. Although there is very limited research on this topic, he says a few studies have used biofeedback approaches with other types of speech impairments and have found some success. Their goal is to implement a biofeedback approach through the use of ultrasound, giving children a visual display of what is happening in their mouth.

“When they see a visual display of their tongue in real time (as they talk), we hope to be able to use this to teach children how to create speech sounds and to coordinate speech movements,” said Dr. Preston.

In a second part to the study, researchers will employ Electroencepylography (EEG), a measure of brain waves as well as a test providing evidence of how the brain functions over time, before and after treatment. This will determine if change can be observed in the neural aspects of speech motor-programming as a result of the treatment.

Even with a successful outcome, Dr. Preston believes there will still be challenges along the way. “We are starting nearly from ‘square one’ with this project. We are developing our own intervention protocols from the ground up,” he said.

The future of this research project’s outcome will be “worth the investment if we can help many children achieve good speech outcomes in a short period of time,” said Dr. Preston.

“We eventually will need to show that investing in the technology up front will have long-term economic benefits if children can ‘graduate’ from speech therapy in a shorter time, resulting in cost savings,” said Dr. Preston.

The proposal, awarded to Dr. Preston, was through a competitive application process managed by CASANA’s Research Review Committee. Funds for CASANA research projects are generated by the efforts of volunteers and donors in the Walk for Children with Apraxia.

Preston says he is very grateful for CASANA’s commitment in helping children with CAS. “We are very thankful for their continued work toward their mission of funding treatment research,” he said. “CAS clearly impacts many families, so there is a huge need for viable treatment options.”

ABOUT CASANA

The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) is the only national non-profit public charity exclusively dedicated to the needs and interests of children with apraxia of speech and their families. CASANA, founded in 2000, strives to improve the systems of support in the lives of children with apraxia so that each child is afforded their best opportunity to develop speech and to achieve to their potential. CASANA works toward this mission through promoting international awareness of childhood apraxia of speech; providing high quality information and support to families and professionals; conducting multiple educational workshops, webinars and conferences each year; and supporting as well as funding treatment research. For more information on CASANA and Childhood Apraxia of Speech, visit the Apraxia-KIDS website at https://www.apraxia-kids.org.

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CASANA’s 2011 Advocate of the Year Award

Pittsburgh, PA, July 1, 2011—Donna Lederman, M.A., CCC-SLP, will receive the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America’s (CASANA) Advocate of the Year Award for her significant contributions, above and beyond what is required of her professional role as a speech-language pathologist. Ms. Lederman has affected positive change for numerous children with apraxia of speech and their families in observable and meaningful ways; more specifically the positive change for children of mothers Jennifer Fealy and Leslie Gregory, both of whom nominated her for this award. Ms. Lederman will be recognized at the 2011 National Conference on Childhood Apraxia of Speech in San Diego, California from July 7-July 9, 2011 at Paradise Point Resort.

“When contacted about the CASANA award by two families in my practice, I felt privileged to know that my work had impacted their children’s lives strongly enough to motivate them to suggest honoring me in such a meaningful way,” said Ms. Lederman, a speech-language professional with private practices in New York. “I was surprised and thrilled by the phone call I received to announce that I was selected to receive this year’s award, and very excited to share the good news with my family and the parents who were kind enough to acknowledge my efforts on behalf of children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.”

CASANA’s Advocate of the Year Award, a national recognition, is given to a speech professional and/or parent that has contributed in substantial ways to the well-being of numerous children with apraxia of speech through their service, advocacy, and support. CASANA’s award recognizes those who go well beyond just helping their own child or fulfilling the basic requirements of their job as a speech-language pathologist.

“There is nothing like the excitement of a child’s newly acquired ability to communicate, and I love being part of the process,” Ms. Lederman said of her work as a speech-language pathologist working with children with apraxia of speech.

Ms. Lederman, known for her comprehensive approach to the treatment of pediatric motor speech disorders, especially of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, has 40 years of experience in providing assessment and treatment for children with communication disorders and related disabilities. Currently, Ms. Lederman has private practices located in Williston Park and Commack, New York, with certifications including ASHA certification in Speech Pathology, NYS Certification in Speech-Language Pathology and Special Education, and PROMPT® Certification as a Clinician and Instructor. Ms. Lederman is also a recipient of many ACE Awards from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association in which she earned for completion of continuing education credits in motor speech disorders and related areas of study.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a very challenging and complicated speech disorder in children. This little known disorder makes it difficult or impossible for children to accurately produce sounds, syllables and/or words despite having a good understanding of language. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA), based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is the only national non-profit public charity exclusively dedicated to the needs and interests of children with apraxia of speech and their families throughout the North America. For more information on CASANA and CAS, visit the Apraxia-KIDS website at https://www.apraxia-kids.org.

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