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5 Questions With...Kathy Helfrich-Miller: What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Childhood Apraxia of Speech
Since I have been at Rehabilitation Specialists, I have worked with many children with the diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). However, I have been hesitant to write a blog post about this disorder. There is so much misinformation on the web as a whole; yet, there is so much good information on that I felt like I did not want to be redundant. However, When I was a student at Duquesne University, I was fascinated by this motor speech disorder and actively asked to work with individuals with this diagnosis. I believe this is why for my last rotation of clinicals, I was sent here to work with Kathy Helfrich-Miller. Kathy retired this January and asked Julie and I to take over her life’s work. However, she has not completely left Rehab Specialists-- she still mentors us in many ways! So, as she taught me everything I know about apraxia, I asked her to be the guest expert for this installment of “5 Questions With…” series.
Recent posts

Why Would My Child Need Private Speech Therapy…Especially If They Get It In School?

Working in both the private practice and school setting since my time here at Rehabilitation Specialists, I have heard this question often from both sides. My typical answer is, “I am certain your child is getting good therapy in the school setting and is making progress on their goals, but sometimes kids just need a little extra help.” This is the simple answer, but a lot of the time, I don’t convince a parent this way. So, today, I will be getting into a few different caveats of this answer and hopefully help a few parents out there understand the main differences between school therapy and private practice therapy.
First, I think we need to talk about funding resources. Speech therapy funding in the school setting is free to families if the child qualifies for services. This is a major reason families will want to just have their child receive speech in school, which I totally understand as a budgeting parent myself. The funding comes from the state level for special education serv…

Happy New Year!

Hello all!

Happy New Year! If you follow us at all, you may have noticed that we took a few weeks off from the blog and social media for the holidays. We are back and ready to take any suggestions for blog ideas or questions you may have about what we do or what you can do for a loved one who may have a speech or language issue.

In our office, we have had two retirements and two new hires this last month! Nicole Ezikanyi joined our team as our new full time office manager and Madison Minick joined us as an SLP Aide working at our contracted sites. Kathleen Helfirch-Miller, our wonderful boss since Julie and I both graduated from graduate school, officially retired as of the new year. You will still see her around here though, helping us take over the ship! Additionally, Sharon Helfrich, our wonderful Office Manager for 17 years, is also retiring. Both Kathy and Sharon are going to be spending a lot more time with their grandkids!

Look for updated photos on our website of all of our s…

Dysphagia: I Think I've Heard Of That Before...

Dysphagia. Seems like a funny word when you don’t know the definition of it. A person might not even come across this word unless their mother or father get diagnosed with dementia or Parkinson’s or if a loved one has a stroke or the SLP dreaded, aspiration pneumonia. Even a bad enough UTI can cause someone to have the symptoms of dysphagia! Dysphagia is, according to ASHA, defined as problems involving the oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, or gastroesophageal junction. That’s just a lot of words to tell you it means “difficulty swallowing”. It can be the scariest part of an SLP’s job, but in my opinion, it can be one of the most interesting.

An SLP can work with patients with dysphagia in a variety of settings. Either in a skilled nursing facility, hospital, long term care, and yes, even in schools. Prevalence of dysphagia is difficult to assess as it can be seen over many different diagnoses and diseases, but approximately 1 in 25 adults will experience a swallowing problem in the Un…

The Functions of That Pesky Frontal Lobe

I feel like people say, "Did you know that the brain isn't fully formed until 25!?" often as a "shocker-did-you-know" fact. Yes, in fact, newest studies are showing that the pre-frontal cortex may not even be fully formed until our 30s. So, what gives? Aren't we fully functioning adults at the age of 18?

While we are responsible for our own decisions legally at the age of 18, the frontal lobe of our brain, or the portion right behind our foreheads, takes significantly longer to fully develop. This part of our brain is responsible for executive functions. Executive functions are the tasks of anticipation, inferencing, planning, selecting goals, self-monitoring, taking and using feedback, and completing purposeful activities. If you are like me and are a 30-something (or older), you can see that the use of these executive functions definitely did not develop fully until at least your mid-twenties. This does not mean that you cannot make good decisions, be mat…

Teaching The Earliest Communicators

Other than, "When should my child be making this sound?", the most asked questions about my job are how to get the youngest children speaking more (birth to age 3). First, I have two kiddos of my own in this age range. Second, I love working with little ones and really discovering how children communicate and watching them grow. So, I am really passionate about this subject.

Today's post will be some basic information that all parents of small children can incorporate into their daily routines to promote language development. These are general strategies; that is, an SLP can help you to incorporate more routines specific to your child. If you feel that your child is not meeting language milestones, please contact your local early intervention institution (a free government-mandated program). We can also evaluate your child here in our office or help you to find other services.

First and foremost, I cannot emphasize the importance of reading enough. You really can start …

Articulation Therapy: How Do I Help My Kid Say Their Sounds At Home?

Cueing Strategies

For the most crucial part of this topic (in my opinion), we will talk today about how to cue your child for certain sounds. I believe that this is the most crucial part because you will understand more how to make your child successful with speech sounds and give them self-confidence that they can incorporate these sounds into their life! Without further ado, I give you a list of some of the most common cues and strategies I suggest in my practice:
Use a mirror for visual feedback. You can practice words in front of a large mirror, or just have a hand-mirror handy while you are doing your fun activities I talked about on Monday!Hand motions to cue how the sound should be made. I cannot make a list of all of the hand motions I use (especially since they change depending on what works for the child!). I can suggest asking your SLP what hand cue they use for certain sounds. Some common ones may be lightly dragging a finger up the arm for /s/ or touching your lips for a /…