Helping Children Speak with Ease
Foundations Developmental House is home of The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program. Developer Lynn Carahaly, M.A., CCC-SLP has a dedicated career in treating children with apraxia. The FDH apraxia clinic is regarded as one of the leading clinics in the nation for diagnosing and treating CAS. Our treatment approach is whole child/whole brain focused. In examining the ongoing research of the cognitive functions in childhood apraxia of speech, the notion of CAS as a unitary disorder can no longer be maintained or defended. We are committed to not only treating speech sound disorders, but also to forecasting other deficits, delays and disabilities that may arise as a child progresses through treatment. CAS does not “cause” other disorders nor is it the reason other disorders exist in later development. It can however be part of a bigger picture. Our experience and vast knowledge on the disorder allows us to identify other comorbidities early on.
What is the Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program?
The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program is a structured program specifically designed to improve speech intelligibility for children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) and severe Developmental Phonological Disorders.
The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program uses multisensory strategies that incorporate visual, auditory, proprioceptive, gestural and tactile input in order to teach the child the correct movement sequences for speech. This multisensory approach addresses various levels of speech motor control, in particular: motor preparation and execution processes.
What if my child is diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)?
A child who has apraxia of speech will not simply grow out of it. The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program provides a plan in which a series of steps and phases are outlined and carried out with individualized goals to be accomplished by the child. Implementation of specific techniques construct well defined and functioning neurological pathways that are the roadmap for proper motor planning, articulatory sequencing, and timed execution of speech patterns for intelligible speech. Teaching the child how to form the correct movement gestures equips the child’s motor planning system to better predict and prepare the articulators to execute the correct target positions for speech intelligibility.
Verbal apraxia is considered a neurological motor speech disorder. In order to improve the development and networking of the neuro-pathways responsible for motor speech planning, therapy is recommended on a daily basis. A child’s frequency and intensity of therapy can be reduced over time, as improvements are maintained and generalized.
While daily in-clinic therapy sessions are the recommended protocol for duration and frequency when implementing The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program, this may not to be realistic for some families. The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program is designed to incorporate home-based intervention strategies as much as possible in the event that families are not be able to drive to therapy every day. Families can still access the program and have effective measurable outcomes under the guidance of their Speech-Language Pathologist. In situations when families are unable to attend frequent in-clinic therapy sessions, daily treatment protocols can still be implemented under the guidance of their Speech-Language Pathologist who is a certified practitioner in The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program. The parent is guided through the program to facilitate the learning and implementation of stimulation techniques for use within the home. Empowering the parent to be an active participant in home programming is a critical piece to a child’s overall success.
The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program Approach
Speech-EZ® Hand Cues are an important part of the initial phases of the program. The child learns specific hand gestures that represent various speech sounds. The idea of moving one’s hands helps the individual recall, plan for, and execute the appropriate articulatory postures for speech productions. Having the child actively employ gestures during speech acts helps with the retention and retrieval of new information specific to motor learning. Using simultaneous gestural and verbal productions fosters phonemic and lexical retrieval. Children with communication delays innately use gestures to communicate their wants and needs. Furthermore, children with CAS are often taught sign language as an alternative communication system. So, the idea of gestures to represent speech sounds and assist in sound finding and verbal motor planning is an easy transition when starting The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program.
The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program also provides early intervention for potential reading and spelling challenges that may occur in children with CAS or severe Phonological Disorders. While not all children with CAS have a reading disorder, studies suggest that children with CAS or Phonological Disorders are at higher risk for literacy challenges. Specific phases of The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program are designed to promote early literacy development, particularly by promoting phonological awareness, auditory perception, and auditory working memory. It should be emphasized that motor speech planning is the primary function of this program. While several fundamental cognitive skills for basic reading and spelling are targeted in this program, it is not a comprehensive reading and spelling program. Often times, children with CAS are not identified with a reading disability until the early or mid-elementary grades. It is well known that early intervention is critical. Therefore, The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program takes a preventative approach by targeting these skills as soon as a child is diagnosed with CAS or a severe Developmental Phonological Disorder.
Children will move through the various Speech-EZ® phases at their own pace. Because apraxia of speech can range in severity and may or may not present with other cognitive impairments or neurological issues, there is no set duration in which a child is expected to complete the program.
Each phase of The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program provides the child with numerous repetitions and response opportunities for targeted movement gestures and speech pattern sequences. Producing dozens and dozens of target speech positions and combinations wires the brain for accurate articulation using principles of motor learning.
The following skills are incorporated into the program when age appropriate, cognitively appropriate, or at the discretion of the practitioner.
Integration of verbal-motor and auditory processing skills:
The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program was developed by Lynn Carahaly, M.A., CCC-SLP, who specializes in children with childhood apraxia of speech, auditory processing disorders, and related learning disabilities. For information on how to get your child started with The Speech-EZ® Apraxia Program or if you are interested in becoming a certified practitioner, please contact Foundations Developmental House today.