Why Sign Language is Beneficial for Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)
Sign language has shown to be beneficial for children diagnosed with CAS. First, what is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?
- CAS is a motor speech disorder. Therefore it’s important to understand the component of the brain that is negatively impacted – the motor strip area.
- Motor planning is difficult. What’s that mean? Coordinating movements of the jaw, tongue, lips, and palate can be challenging.
- Difficulties happen when the brain tries to tell the mouth how to move, and how to achieve sounds, words, sentences, etc. The brain knows what it wants to say but can’t relay that message to the mouth (lips, tongue, palate) effectively.
It’s important to stress the motor planning component of CAS because I truly believe sign language can help children with CAS because of the motor planning skills that are used in sign language!
Motor planning in layman’s terms examples:
1. Think about brushing your teeth. Think about which hand you use. Think about how you brush your teeth. You don’t typically change the hand you use to brush your teeth. You don’t typically change the set of teeth you brush first (top/bottom). You don’t necessarily have to look in the mirror and concentrate while brushing your teeth.
2. Think about texting on the old fashion flip phones. Think about how quick you got at texting and perhaps you didn’t even have to look at the keyboard!
THESE are SUCESSSES we have on a DAILY basis because of our ability to MOTOR PLAN!
Again, children with CAS struggle planning the speech movements to communicate effectively.
Sign Language can be used to:
- Reduce Frustration
- Provide Symbolic Communication (the signs mean something)
- Increase Expressive Communication
- Relieves Pressure to Verbally Communicate and Allows for More Focus on Academics
- Positive and Successful Communication Attempts
- Better Control of Rate of Speech for Both Adults and Children (when signing individuals tend to slow down to allow for simultaneous verbal and sign communication)
- Provides Visual Cues
- REINFORCES MOTOR PLANNING!
Sign Language will not limit their speech attempts or increase their difficulties verbalizing. The first fear is that a speech therapist is going to put speech therapy (training, drills, etc.) on the back burner and focus on sign language. It’s important to note – sign language is an awesome supplement!
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