Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech 2015


By Emily H.

Saturday, October 24th, Speech-Language Pathologist Christine Wilson and Ms. Emily participated in the walk for children with apraxia of speech. This year two of Mrs. Christine’s clients were shining stars! We are SO proud of their hard work. Below you will find pictures of our shining stars!

Christine Wilson’s clients with Apraxia are hard-working and self-motivated. The parent support, and home-programming practiced by the parents of our shining stars, is absolutely incredible. Christine Wilson is thankful to work with both motivated clients and parents. Parents, your hard work does not go unnoticed!



What is CAS?

Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, 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.


History of the Walk

Sean Freiburger, who has had over 650 hours of speech therapy for his diagnosis of severe speech apraxia, saw a sign for a walk-a-thon and asked his mother what it was. Sue Freiburger, Sean’s mom, told him that people were gathering together to walk and help others. Sean immediately said, “Why can’t we do that for apraxia?” Given that just a few years earlier, Sue was not sure she would ever hear Sean speak at all, much less understand his questions, she told him with a teary-eyed smile, “Yes, we can!”

The first Walk for Apraxia happened on October 18, 2008 in Pittsburgh, PA with Sean leading over 300 walkers in his effort to raise awareness about childhood apraxia of speech and funds for the apraxia programs and research sponsored by CASANA, the only national nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to children with apraxia and their families. This past year there were over 75 walk locations with over 13,000 walkers and countless donors. In 2014 the Apraxia Walks are entering their 7th year which allows new projects to be funded and research grants to continue!

We hope to see you at the next Apraxia Walk!


Some Things to Know about Childhood Apraxia of Speech


What is apraxia of speech?

Apraxia of speech, also known as verbal apraxia or dyspraxia, is a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. It is not due to weakness or paralysis of the speech muscles (the muscles of the face, tongue, and lips). The severity of apraxia of speech can range from mild to severe.

Some excellent tips for what parents can do for their child when working with them at home:

  • songs (monkeys swinging in the tree or jumping on the bed , Old MacDonald )
  • poems
  • verbal routines (pat-a-cake , Willaby Walloby Woo)
  • repetitive books (i.e. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? , Dear Zoo , Goodnight Moon)
  • daily routines (prayers, social routines, pledge of allegiance)
Childhood Apraxia of Speech Does Get Better! Not all kids will gain speech growth in the same manner, but they do get better.  This is a wonderful thing!  There’s a reason it’s called ‘childhood’—the duration of CAS is typically birth thru 8 years.  It could be a little less or a little more, depending on your child’s personality, determination/motivation, overall intelligence, access to therapy, home practice, and co-occuring disorders like AD/HD, autism, Down’s syndrome, anxiety, etc.  Sure, your child may slip up from time to time on challenging words, when they are tired or stressed, or learning a new set of vocabulary (math terms, history, science), but overall your child’s speech should be on-par with peers around age 8.
If you have any questions or concerns contact Speech Language Pathologist Christine Wilson.

What is Apraxia? How does it affect speech and language acquisition?

When I diagnose a child with Apraxia, the mother always goes home to do research on her computer about the disorder.  This is a very pragmatic thing to do.  However, there is a lot of doom and gloom about Apraxia on the internet.  Like any disorder, there are many different severities of Apraxia. 

Apraxia is a difficulty with motor planning for speech sound production.    Many of the children whom I treat for speech therapy have a form of Apraxia.  These children have difficulty imitating new words and have very unintelligible speech.  Children who do not have Apraxia, can hear a grown-up say a word and then say it.  Children with Apraxia often have to rehearse a word multiple times and still may not be able to say the word correctly.  This leads to frustration and often tantrums.

What can a parent do if they suspect their child has Apraxia?

First, have a speech and language evaluation to determine the diagnosis.

Second, introduce some baby signs to give your child a way to communicate immediately.  Start with signs that he would use for requesting, as this is the most motivating form of communication.  Kids love to sign “cookie” and receive a “cookie.”

Second, shorten the target words that you are trying to have your child imitate.  Think about words like: ball, cat, dog.  These words are less complex and will be easier to imitate.

Last, give your child multiple opportunities to rehearse the word until he achieves success.

And as always, keep it fun!