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How You Can Help Your Child

With help, most children with apraxia get a lot better. But there's no way to be sure that every child will speak or sign perfectly.

If your child has apraxia and hearing loss, see a speech and language pathologist who knows about hearing loss AND communication problems like apraxia. Working with the speech and language pathologist, think about what your child needs to communicate, and how to help him.

Most children with apraxia can and do get better. Many different things affect how well they do:

  • If your child has any other physical problems
  • How much therapy your child gets
  • How much help from your family your child gets

There are many different ways to help children with apraxia. They mostly try to help a child:

  • Control how fast he talks
  • Control the rhythm of his words
  • Control how his voice rises and falls as he talks (Rhythm and melody can often help these children learn to speak).

Sign language (with exaggerated movement) can help deaf children with apraxia to express themselves better. But did you know that sign language can even help hearing children with apraxia? Once a child learns a language, speech often follows. Deaf children with apraxia need to practice and repeat their signs a lot.

If your child has trouble moving his arms or hands, signing may be hard, too. For some children with cerebral palsy, sign language takes a lot of extra work.

Some children get better if they have a way to communicate with others, even if it isn't perfect. Here are some ways that sign language can help children with apraxia:

  • Sign language can help make your child less frustrated because he can express himself.
  • Sign language can help slow down how fast a child talks.
  • Sign language adds a clue that your child can see and be reminded of the word or idea they're trying to say.

Other ways of communicating
Children with serious apraxia may have to communicate in ways besides speaking or signing. These other ways are called augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

You might be afraid that if your child uses an AAC, he'll stop trying to sign or speak. But AACs just help your child communicate better at home and at school. And having a way - any kind of way - to communicate will help your child a lot.

These are examples of AAC devices:

  • A box that speaks different phrases for your child.
  • Pictures that your child uses to tell you what he wants or feels

AAC devices help a child communicate at a higher level and share more information, and get better at communicating. Children who have used communication boards for a little as an hour or 2 get better at communicating.

If your child is very young, your child's speech therapist can show you how to put together different pictures to make sentences. Your child can use the pictures to tell you what he needs.

If your child is older, pictures will not be enough to communicate fully. If your child finds signing hard, find an expert in alternative ways of communicating to set up a system of communicating on the computer for your child. You can get help from these specialists for free. Read our page on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to find out how.

Learn more about apraxia

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National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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