When treating children with CAS, I use a play-based, multisensory approach to therapy. I focus on what the child responds to best, whether visual cues, auditory cues, PROMPT cues, sign language, or an AAC device. Each treatment plan is tailored to the child to ensure progress. I use a whole word approach to encourage the development of motor planning skills. My approach expands upon the sounds and syllable shapes the child already has in his or her inventory, slowly increasing phonetic complexity through adding phonemes, syllables, and words, in order to ensure that the child is able to retain and generalize each motor plan. I am a PROMPT trained therapist and I use this technique with the majority of children with CAS that I treat. I strive to make therapy fun, effective, and functional for each child that I work with.
Currently, about 40% of my caseload are children diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. For each individual case, I communicate with other professionals in the community in order to understand which approaches are most successful with each child and to ensure generalization across settings. In the past, I have attended several CEU courses to increase my knowledge about how to best serve this population. Following attending each of these courses, I have shared information that I learned with my coworkers in hopes to aid them in treating children on their caseloads with CAS. In addition, while I was in graduate school at The George Washington University, I had the opportunity to be a graduate student clinician at CHAMP camp, a summer camp for children diagnosed with CAS. This experience sparked my interest in working with chihldren with CAS.
I always include parents in their child’s therapy through education and specific targets for the home environment in order to maximize progress and generalization. I feel that parents are essential to the therapy process, especially to ensure generalization of motor planning skills across a variety of settings. I believe it is essential that therapy goals are integrated into the child’s everyday life, and in order to accomplish this, parents must be educated about how to best support their child with his or her speech and language development outside of a therapy setting. I provide parents with specific and relevant suggestions to help them incorporate strategies into daily activities, such as toys to use during play time in order to encourage the child to practice specific sounds and ways to incorporate target words into everyday routines (i.e. bath time, meal times, etc.).
As most of the children I work with are under the age of 5, I typically start with low tech AAC, such as signs and picture exchange systems. I have found that the use of these systems often encourages verbal language in these children. However, a child’s communication system must meet his or her needs in all settings and as a child gets older and demands are increased, I look into alternative, high tech devices to support a child’s communication needs. I always work with a child’s caregivers, teachers, and therapy team to find the best option for each child.