Q: Is it wise to talk to a preschool child with childhood apraxia about their disorder?
I never tell little kids that they have a disorder. I let them know that they are speaking very well, that they are still learning, and that I am thrilled that they are speaking as well as they are. Often I imitate back to the child what he said and how he said it, then I model for him how to say it better. Consider this little dialogue:
Child: (Naming an alligator) “Day-bo.”
Therapist: (Pleased) “Day-bo! You said, ‘alligator!’”
Child: “Uh-nuh day-bo.”
Therapist: “Another day-bo! You found another alligator. That is a big word. A-Li-Gay-Tor.” (Emphasizing each syllable)
Therapist: “Good. ‘A-Li-Gay-Tor.’ You are learning how to say, ‘A-Li-Gay-Tor.’”
Therapist: “A-Gay-Bo.” Perfect. ‘A-Li-Gay-Tor.’”
In this little exchange, the therapist has given the client several messages:
- I am listening hard to everything you are saying
- I am pleased that you are talking to me
- You said a great word
- I accept the way you said that word
- Here’s how to say it better
- You said it better!
- You eventually will say it the best way because you are still learning