This blog post written by Liz Watson, CCC-SLP
As an SLP who lives with two other SLPs, talking about work is unavoidable in our household. I recently asked them “Hey have you ever used Medbridge to get CEUs?” One of them responded “OMG, I LIVE on Medbridge. That’s how I learned how to treat apraxia!”
While ideally, we would all say, “I learned everything I need to know in grad school!” that’s unfortunately just not the case. If you’re feeling confused about the difference between apraxia and other speech sound disorders, or lost about the correct method for treating it, I highly recommend checking this out: Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Treatment of School-Age Children by Ruth Stoeckel, PhD, CCC-SLP.
Dr. Stoeckel gives a great overview of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), but she doesn’t dawdle on the theories and concepts. She gets right into evaluation and treatment methods with a strong evidence base. We know apraxia has to do with motor planning, but what does that actually look like? The main difficulty associated with apraxia is with the movement of the sequence of sounds, not just the sounds themselves. But listening to the sounds and syllable shapes are equally important.
Target selection is critical to treatment of CAS. We need to look at what sounds and syllable shapes to add to the child’s repertoire. There are basically two ways to go about this:
Dr. Stoeckel emphasizes functional targets. No more lists of obscure words that happen to contain the target, but are minimally useful to the individual child (bye-bye “panda”). We need to choose targets that the child can use functionally in their everyday life. For young kids, this is pretty obvious. As children get older and gain more sounds, this becomes more challenging. I liked Dr. Stoeckel’s idea of using math homework. Children can restate an equation (e.g. eight and two equals ten) or paraphrase a word problem in their own words. A middle schooler might need to work on multisyllabics like geometry, hypotenuse, triangle, or algebra. Be creative, fellow SLPs!
There are a few treatments with good evidence bases (read on more that, here). The therapy type with the strongest current evidence is Dynamic Temporal and Tactile Cueing (DTTC), which is what Dr. Stoeckel is teaching in this course. It involves using imitation, tactile cues, and varied timing and prosody to target sounds and syllable shapes. If you are interested in implementing this therapy with your own students, I would recommend heading over to Medbridge to listen to Dr. Stoeckel explain it—I just can’t do it justice here.
Happy learning, #EBPSLPs!
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