Disclaimer - Read This First


This website contains general information about medical and educational conditions and treatments. The information is not advice, and should not be treated as such.

The educational and medical information on this website is provided “as is” without any representations or warranties, express or implied. Cheryl Swope, M.Ed. and Memoria Press make no representations or warranties in relation to the information on this website.

You must not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or individualized advice from any other professional healthcare or educational provider. If you think you or your child may be suffering from any medical condition you should seek immediate medical attention.

You should never delay seeking medical or educational advice, disregard medical or educational advice, or discontinue medical or educational treatment because of any information on this website.
See more
See less

little ones...

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    little ones...

    Does anyone have questions or ideas for classically educating the youngest special-needs children? I'm thinking "Infants through age 3" or "Ages 4-8."

    Possible areas to ask questions or offer suggestions:
    Behavior (impulse control, manners, attention & concentration)

    Speech & language difficulties

    Fine-motor challenges, sensory issues

    Social skills

    Early Academics....

    Whether you work with good therapists and have learned some techniques, have researched on your own and found an idea or resource to share, or you remember something helpful from working with your now-older special-needs children, please consider contributing a suggestion or two. If you currently work with little ones, which areas seem most challenging?

    Classical education begins in the child's earliest days. We seem to attract many "views" here on our Struggling Student Forum. Perhaps our collected ideas will help someone.

    "These are trivial recommendations for one who claims to be educating an orator; but study also has its infancy, the great speaker of the future once cried as a baby, tried to speak with an uncertain voice, and was puzzled by the shape of letters." Quintilian, The Orator's Education, Book 1:1

    I don't have any suggestions really. More of an observation.

    When your child doesn't talk at the normal developmental stages, you aren't 'cued' to work on the normal developmental, since my daughter was completely non-verbal until after 18 mo old (just turned 2 and has about 10-15 words), it hadn't occurred to me to teach her please and thank you although I had been modeling it with her older sister long before that just naturally. Also, by this age with my older daughter we worked on colors and were starting to work on letter and shape recognition (very her first letter, circle), and colors.

    Without the speech, my daughter comes off unconsciously as much younger (expresive language currently at ~ 12mo) so I find myself either forgetting to work on age appropriate things or having to consciously work on them.

    Most lists of developmental milestones only list the minimums of developmental tasks. I have found it difficult to remember what to work on and to actually realize it's time to do it since I don't get those cues that I took for granted with my older daughter.

    For manners, I added please and thank you to her signs once I remembered that she should be getting these taught to her and has done well using them.
    I try to enforce the same standards for politeness that I held/hold my other daughter at this age.

    At first, per SLP direction, we held off teaching colors, shapes, etc... since she couldn't use any effective speech (cup, more, mama, dada) it was more appropriate to focus on giving her an effective means of communication. Now that she has some signs, lots of gesturers, a couple words and her picture book (AAC) ....and she's showing to be likely apraxic and not just delayed, we have decided to work on these developmentally appropriate tasks. Her receptive language is fine (and honestly seems really smart except for an inability to name an item) so when we play, I (verbally) label the shape or color and have her pick out ones I ask for. She's picking them up very quickly.

    Since she also has some sensory seeking behaviors that if unfulfilled (...mostly motor and proprioception) will leave her cranky, throwing fits or shrieking excitedly while running in circles ...or into me :P, we make sure to work in exercise or work for her. After she gets her sensory input taken care of, she is much better capable of sitting in a grocery cart or at the table. Luckily she loves blocks and puzzles so she likes to do those activities on her own. When she's older and needing to work on more schoolish type activities, I anticipate adding lots of movement into her day. I've seen some great ones here already! bouncing on a ball, doing headstands, jumping to a spot with the correct answer.

    Sorry this got so long! I guess what I'd like most at this point, is a true (not bare minimum) list of what to be teaching based on developmental age.
    I don't want to hurt her learning ability by simply not teaching because I didn't realize I was supposed to.

    it makes me feel better knowing other people have done this with more challenges than me and have come out with educated kids. Thank you! (btw, looking forward to your book)


      What a great post. Thank you!

      1. Terms

      First, let's define a few terms for anyone interested but unfamiliar:
      SLP = speech & language pathologist (aka speech therapist)

      apraxia of speech = inability to perform the motor tasks of speech
      (a - without, praxis - Greek for action, activity, deed)
      For more on apraxia,

      speech delay = speech that is relatively normal, just slower to develop

      sensory seeking behaviors = craving unusual amounts of "input" from various senses, e.g., taste, smell, or touch [also common in autism, for example, as when a child smells people or objects]

      proprioceptive = from proprius - Latin for own or very own - one's perception of one's own placement in space, position, movement; considered a "sense"

      For more on sensory/proprioceptive:

      2. Commendation for Excellent Early Intervention

      Second, know that you are already doing so much for your daughter! Often parents or doctors deny that a problem exists when the child is so young, or they simply take the ineffective "wait and see" approach. Instead, you are actively helping your daughter communicate both verbally and non-verbally. You're also recognizing and addressing her sensory issues. Even more, you're anticipating wisely that these needs will continue into her academic years. Excellent idea, for example, to plan for integrating movement into her routine.

      3. More than Milestones

      You're also realizing that the Developmental Milestone tables lack inspiration for true educational goals. Yes! Often even good therapy seeks only to bring the child closer to "where he should be" with the minimal developmental tasks.

      Instead, as someone interested in classical education, you want to do much more. You want to delight your daughter in learning; cultivate virtue, character and manners; and teach her all that is good, true, and beautiful in language -- even if she cannot yet speak much herself.

      4. Your Observations on Your Daughter's Receptive Language

      Many believe that intelligence correlates highly with receptive (understood) vocabulary. Though it is too early for accurate intelligence testing, simply based on your observations regarding your daughter's receptive vocabulary, her ability to learn sounds quite promising. I think you're already discovering what to do...:

      5. Teach her just as you did your older daughter, but require responses other than expressive vocabulary. You may also be able to seek approximations of expressive vocabulary. To clarify:

      Responses other than expressive vocabulary--
      For example, with your older daughter, you might have said, "What color is this balloon?" and when she said, "Green," you became excited and told her she was correct. As you already know, it is equally wonderful when you say, "Point to the green balloon," and your younger daughter does this! She, too, has learned the color green.

      When asking your older daughter if she wanted a cookie, you might have insisted something like, "Say, 'May I have a cookie, please?'" Instead, with your little one, you might say, "Cookie. Say 'c.'" If she makes the hard c sound, she receives the cookie. Of course this would be based on whichever sounds she is able to create, because you want her to be challenged but successful in her communication. The SLP could help determine whether this approach would be appropriate for your daughter, and which sounds you could require.

      You can combine the two approaches by requesting the approximated spoken word along with the nonverbal "please" sign you have taught her.

      6. Successes & Joy

      Help her to enjoy communicating. The "delight" aspect of the Memoria Press motto is so important here. With encouragement of the words she truly can say, with excitement at the supplemental sign language she remembers, and with joy at the words she understands when you speak to her, you can help her delight in language and the ability to communicate with others in whatever form she can manage.

      If you have read many books on speech & language, you already know that authors must often focus on the unmanageable behavior of frustrated children who have difficulties expressing themselves. Children with apraxia pull on their mothers' arms to get their attention, they hit or bite, or they scream vowels to get their way. Some parents become so desperate to hear the child speak, they forget that whining or screaming a word, even though it is "speech" on the therapist's list of words to say, is just not acceptable.

      Instead, you want her to be well-mannered. You also want her to love language. Listening to early children's poetry, perhaps set to music; nursery rhymes; silly songs; counting books... she can begin to do all of these. She can learn letters by pointing to the correct one, or holding up the correct letter from the alphabet puzzle. She can begin all of these things and more, as it seems you're already discovering!

      As for this...
      "It makes me feel better knowing other people have done this with more challenges than me and have come out with educated kids. Thank you!
      (btw, looking forward to your book)"

      Thank you so much! Please keep posting. I would enjoy following your daughter's progress, as you begin this new chapter of learning in her young life. I love the 2's and 3's. Learning and receptive language explodes at this time, and true wonder is still part of each day.

      Others may have specific suggestions for good beginning "curriculum" for 2's and 3's (e.g., names of story books, collections of early poetry, good music, and more).

      Thanks again, "CelticaDea." This is exactly what I envisioned when Brian & Tanya & I discussed a forum just for classical education and special-needs children of all ages. Especially as we await publication of the book, I believe this discussion-based forum has great potential to help many who seek to educate classically their special-needs or struggling children.

      If you have follow-up items, or if I missed something in your post, please ask.


        To all who have read CelticaDea's observations:

        If anyone else has insights, suggestions, or questions about classical Christian education and younger children with special needs, feel free to add to this thread, if you would like.

        Thank you to everyone who participates here, if only by reading. We can share in the common purpose of bringing classical Christian education to all children, no matter their ages or challenges.

        "...things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us,

        We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation
        the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
        and the wonders that he has done."
        Psalm 78:3-4


          there is progress

          My husband and I were recalling yesterday that, when my son was two, we doubted that he would ever speak at all, much less in sentences. I can't recall how many speech therapy sessions were spent teaching him to babble. He started out more towards the severely autistic end of the spectrum, but now he is mid-functioning. He had apraxia as well as severe expressive and receptive language delays. And the unusual sensory needs: smelling things, smelling people, looking at things at just the right angle (every ball had to have its ball-ness fully explored, every car had to have its car-ness fully explored...), not to mention playing in his own poop from 18 mos. to 3 years. I learned how to get poop out of every possible surface and bought a lot of overalls and one piece outfits.
          We knew he was understanding more than other people thought, so I read to him. And read to him. And read to him. I signed along to books like Good Night, Moon. We found great DVDs and very visually uncluttered books. We backed up our words with sign language to make it more concrete. We used the build up and break down method when speaking. We used PECs until he didn't need them anymore. Visual schedules. Predictable routines. We listened to our instincts and chose not to put him in 30 hours of ABA a week when he was 2, which is what the clinic that finally gave him an official diagnosis was recommending to start with. Our response was, "So, should we just put our five-year-old and newborn in a closet while we do this?"
          I think the best thing we did was to never give him a free pass to be a terror. We expected politeness, kindness, affection, and good manners. Everything had to be repeated about a thousand times to make it stick. But he knows that if he wants something, he has to say "May I please have.." Yes ma'am, no sir, please, thank you, etc... And we gave him lots of siblings to interact with and love.
          All of these things laid the groundwork for the academics that came later on.
          dd 15, ds 12, ds 10, ds 7, dd 5, ds 3, dd 3.5 mos.


            This is something I picked up from a different field, but had some success with. When they teach animals tasks (like teaching a bird to match or count to test intelligence in different creatures) they noticed that tutoring is fine, but the BEST method is to have the animal watch while you teach someone else. So they observe the teaching and a model response. The researcher would teach an aide with the animal watching until the animal was willing to jump in and do the trick.

            Well, I was having trouble with any game with my daughter (age 4). She got lost somewhere in the directions, every time. I wanted to sort of try the method above, but didn't have an older sibling (or dad home during the day) to help out. So finally I tried a puppet. I explained the game to Chip the Chipmunk. Then Chip would do five or six examples with me, doing all of the interactions correctly to show the desired result. For the first time dd caught on. Between the instructions and the examples, she started to "get" the games without me trying to explain and explain and restate and explain the rules. Sometimes she doesn't do it right the first try, so we quit after two or three tries, and then the next day we start with the puppet learning and doing examples again. It has been my best technique success so far when I seem to hit a wall with explanation.


              What a neat idea! I'll have to keep this one in mind


                Dear Armymom,

                Thanks for this idea:

                "This is something I picked up from a different field, but had some success with. When they teach animals tasks (like teaching a bird to match or count to test intelligence in different creatures) they noticed that tutoring is fine, but the BEST method is to have the animal watch while you teach someone else. So they observe the teaching and a model response."

                We used this technique successfully with our daughter for toilet training. One of her dolls modeled "going," as we sat the doll on the potty chair, told the doll what to do, waited, and then dribbled water (stealthily) behind the doll into the chair. We congratulated Dolly heartily every time she succeeded. Soon Michelle wanted to do this very fun activity too.

                A more detailed description can be found in Toilet Training in Less Than A Day, by Azrin. Designed for use with children of lower intelligence, this method produced greater results than any other we tried.

                Our language therapist suggested something similar with social skills. When our children were young, their stuffed animals often modeled helpful lessons. For example, my daughter had repeatedly pushed other children in her gymnastics class, because she wanted to be first in line. Back at home, we gathered her stuffed animals. She watched as Rabbit pushed Elephant, Mouse, and Bear. Horrified by Rabbit's behavior, she better understood the offense. Then Rabbit "learned" to watch the others and take his place in line behind those already present; so Michelle exhibited greater self-control.

                Thanks again--


                  CelticDea, I could have written you post! Elly is 19 months and non-verbal. She hasn't been receptive to signing except for "more" and "milk." In addition, she is fairly small for her age, making it even easier to forget that she's not a baby-baby anymore.

                  I'm in the process of creating her PECS deck now, and I find myself wondering if she knows what these things mean since she doesn't say them and has no means to communicate intangibles except with tantrums or crying. Do 19 month olds know sleepy, sad, and hurt? I forget!

                  How blessed we are to have a forum to tackle these hurdles together.


                    my daughter Anna was really slow to use signing too. I had taught a few basics to my older daughter when she was little to bridge that gap between wanting and being able to tell me (more, eat, drink, all done). since she then spoke at appropriate milestones, I didn't take it much further. with Anna, before we started Early On speech at 18 mo she only rarely used one sign. all done, I think. initially speech therapy was all about getting her to use signs consistently. especially "help".
                    are you working with an SLP? sleepy, sad, hurt are pretty abstract for 19 mo but signing or gesturing for those things may make more sense than a PECS picture. I think my dd was 2 before we were using the picture book (not truly PECS because she had the idea that communication involved information between 2 people).

                    now at 28 mo she has a decent "vocabulary". most others wouldn't know what she's saying. I have to translate even for the SLP. she often uses the same "word" for many things ex: go-gock = dog, cookie, cracker, marker maybe a few other things too. her willingness to use gestures is sooo helpful for me to translate. I really need context or gestures or signs sometimes to figure it out. she still uses her picture book occasionally to help clarify what she's asking for. one am she was asking for "wa-waf" which usually means flower when I was offering pancakes or cereal for breakfast.....needless to say, I was confused. she got her book and showed me waffles! brilliant child . I honestly laughed because it was great communication.
                    lately we have her make choices between two things but instead of pointing she tries to say either one. she's generally willing to makeup new words as needed. so I try to make the choices something I'll be able to figure out ....chicken or French fry. she doesn't really have a word for either but if I hear a k sound she gets a chicken nugget and if I don't, it's a French fry. lol such a weird fun way to run my life!
                    not to say that your daughter will be doing this yet. this is after 6 mo of 1hr every other week (18 mo - 2 yrs) and nearly 5 mo of 2 hrs/week of speech services on top of near constant speech therapy practice at home for her to be where she is.
                    speech practice by you doesn't have to be (and probably shouldn't be very structured). it's just part of daily life. initially I was signing my fool head off by modeling the signs we were working on every time the opportunity came up. then you move to modeling then having them do it. then to dropping your cue and withholding til they use the sign (within reason, no point in a trantrum). now I speak all day and repeat what she says or gestures in normal speech so she hears it correctly and praise praise praise. whatever you're working on, speech, sounds, signs, picture book, general concept of communicating, always praise heartily her efforts and especially her successes! I feel a bit silly sometimes since I sound like a cheerleader and I was definitely not the cheerleader type in hs

                    yikes this got really long. I guess I neede to talk about it this morning! lol welcome to the group! if you have any questions or just frustrations please ask away, as you can see I am happy to talk


                      oh, i forgot, that my SLP (speech therapist) purposely did not use or teach abstract words to her until she had more concrete communication available. As she put it, why worry about 'want' if she can't say 'ball' or 'mama'.

                      We started with concrete objects for signs and picture books. with the exception of 'more' and 'help'. "help" was to help us with her obvious frustrations and crying and screaming. When she couldn't do something, she would just shriek and cry. She never brought it to us. We worked very hard on teaching her to ask for help (using Sign) instead of yelling. I still have to remind her to be calm and ask for help (now with her word) when she's having frustrating days.

                      Initially she didn't verbally copy any word sounds which is why we did so much with signs. It served to teach the concept of two way communication. then we added in the verbal to the sign. gradually the signs dropped off, and now uses mostly verbal. Her first sounds/words were sound effects. She can do ~'mow' for a cat noise but still can't say 'cat'.

                      Now that she has a fair number of concrete-type words/approximations (snack, cup, truck, et...), we just started last week teaching her to use a phrase "I want....." to help her use language like we normally do instead of just making lists out of her words to get her point across. ex....normally she says "nack!" for a fruit snack. Now we are having her copy I...want...snack. She doesn't repeat the whole phrase at once yet. Just one word at a time but it's awesome! and of course, we go crazy happy for her.

                      I still have trouble reminding myself to teach age appropriate things unrelated to speech, like colors, numbers, shapes, letters, etc....not that 2 year olds would have full recall of these things yet but showing and repeating them. Without those cues that you didn't even realize you are waiting for, it's so hard.
                      Last edited by CelticaDea; 12-15-2012, 06:48 AM.


                        Dear Ootedsgirl,
                        Thank you for sharing about Elly. I hope you have - or can soon find - a good speech and language therapist, as CelticaDea suggested!

                        A premature baby, my daughter Michelle was a very tiny toddler too. Your post made me think of her so many years ago and smile. She wore little glasses the size of teaspoons. Now 17, she just decorated our house for Christmas on her own this year, as a gift to me. Blessings to you, as you work with Elly in these important early years.

                        Dear CelticaDea,
                        Thank you for your posts. So good to hear of your Anna's progress. She seems determined to communicate. What a persevering girl! I love your waffle story:

                        "I really need context or gestures or signs sometimes to figure it out. she still uses her picture book occasionally to help clarify what she's asking for. one am she was asking for "wa-waf" which usually means flower when I was offering pancakes or cereal for breakfast.....needless to say, I was confused. she got her book and showed me waffles! brilliant child . I honestly laughed because it was great communication."

                        I was also very encouraged to hear this:

                        Now that she has a fair number of concrete-type words/approximations (snack, cup, truck, et...), we just started last week teaching her to use a phrase "I want....." to help her use language like we normally do instead of just making lists out of her words to get her point across. ex....normally she says "nack!" for a fruit snack. Now we are having her copy I...want...snack. She doesn't repeat the whole phrase at once yet. Just one word at a time but it's awesome! and of course, we go crazy happy for her.

                        Imitating three-word sentences?? Even if just one word at a time, this is such good progress since this summer! Just as with copying good writing for our older children, copying good oral communication gives our younger children much-needed practice. And how effective when linked directly to her fruit snack!

                        Good for you, and good for little Anna.

                        Thanks again. We're cheering you on, even as you cheer her on. Much work now, but you will see the benefits of your efforts in her later years, just as Saint Jude encouraged you earlier.



                          always progressing

                          I remembering wondering when my son was a toddler if the PECs were ever going to work. They did. Between the pictures and the velcro and the sign language and the hundreds of repetitions, things were getting through. And you could never tell right away. But the boy who didn't say his first word until he was almost three, now puts together sentences like, "I want Madeline to get me some paper please." And the inflection may never be perfect, and his sentences are somewhat formulaic, but there have been times when he has come to me and said, "I love you" for no reason whatsoever and it is worth all the trips to speech and OT and carrying around the ring of PECs and the meltdowns to hear that sentence. My other children's learning is like they are looking straight at something. But with my son, it is like peripheral vision. Stealth learning.


                            While working on the special-needs curriculum package for 2's and 3's, I have been researching early language development. Some of you have children with apraxia and may have already found this website written by a talented SLP. If not, it is packed with information and you might find it helpful:

                            See below an excerpt on Ten Tips for Teaching your Child to Combine Words, written by Laura, a Speech & Language Pathologist. Note that the suggestions below come unedited from her site, See what you think.

                            Making the Leap from Words to Phrases…. Tips for Helping Your Toddler Learn to Combine Words

                            Research tells us that toddlers with typically developing language possess a single word spontaneous vocabulary of 35-50 words before they begin to combine words into two-word phrases. We should use this same guideline when deciding when to target phrases with children who are late talkers, those with language disorders, and especially in children with apraxia, or motor planning difficulties.

                            There are many things that you can do at home to work on the prerequisite skills necessary for spontaneous phrase production.

                            1. Before you begin working on two-word combinations, be sure that your toddler is saying at least 35 words on his own
                            (meaning without imitating you) in daily routines. (This point is so important I’m repeating it in case you didn’t process it the first time.)

                            In my experience, many late talking children, especially those with apraxia, or motor planning issues, have single word vocabularies well in excess of 50 words before they can begin to consistently imitate two-word phrases, much less say novel ones on their own.

                            If your child’s vocabulary is not this size, continue to work on adding new single words.

                            Some children can imitate phrases before they are truly using 50 words on their own. In many cases, they are learning the phrase “holistically” or as one unit. In other words, the entire phrase is just one long word to them. Children with difficulty processing and understanding language often learn phrases in this way.

                            The only way to know if your child’s vocabulary is at this level is to keep a list of all of the words he says on his own (not imitated) over 2 or 3 days. I routinely ask the parents of children on my caseload to do this. Most parents have good luck keeping a running list on the refrigerator or in the den. Sometimes parents are surprised at the results. Some parents underestimate their child’s vocabulary and are excited when they realize just how much he/she is saying. Some are disappointed when they realize their child might be using a core set of words over and over. If you’re not sure how your child is doing, I definitely recommend this exercise.

                            2. Your child needs to have a variety of words in his vocabulary from different grammatical categories before he can sensibly combine words into phrases.

                            When analyzing the early vocabularies of toddlers, most of the words they use are nouns/names for people and objects. This is the case in typical language development too. But if you’ll think about it, a child needs more words than nouns, or names for things. It’s hard to make a sensible phrase using two nouns. (Other than those for agent + object such as “Daddy shoe.”)

                            Children also need:

                            Social words (such as bye-bye, hi)
                            Requesting words (such as please, more, again)
                            Verbs/action words (such as go, eat, sleep, drink, jump, open, push)
                            Early pronouns (such as me, mine, my, I, you)
                            Prepositions/location words (such as in, out, off, on, up, down, here, there)
                            Negation (such as no and then later contractions including don’t, can’t)
                            Adjectives & adverbs/descriptive words (such as big, hot, fast, yucky)

                            Be sure you are introducing and teaching words from these different categories so that your child has broad vocabulary base in order to make phrases.

                            3. Your child needs to be able to sequence two syllables together.

                            If your child routinely reduces multisyllabic words to one syllable, such as “ma” for Mama, “bu” for bubble, “Mo” for Elmo, he needs more practice with sequencing syllables first before trying to learn phrases.

                            Work on this by practicing words with reduplicated or repetitive patterns since this is the easiest and earliest form noted in typically developing language. For example, all the “early” words - Mama, Dada, bye-bye, baba (for bottle), and night-night. Try to target words with sounds he already tries to say.

                            Don’t forget animal sounds since these are more fun to practice such as moo-moo, baa-baa, neigh-neigh, quack-quack, woof-woof, etc…

                            Use clapping or patting the floor to help him “feel” both parts of the word. You can model this and wait for him to imitate, or use hand-over-hand assistance to make him do this. This technique is very helpful for children with motor planning problems (apraxia). The motor movements actually help them produce the word. (That’s why signing is so effective too!)

                            4. Your child needs to be able to say several different types of syllable structures.

                            This is going to be a little technical to explain, so hang in there with me. Toddlers with typically developing speech and language skills usually learn to say words with various patterns and syllable structures. For example, a toddler who can say Mama, up, no, hot, and open is using 5 different kinds of consonant (C) and vowel (V) combinations.

                            “Mama” is CVCV.

                            “Up” is VC.

                            “No” is CV.

                            “Hot” is CVC.

                            “Open” is VCVC if he says “open” or VCV if he says “opu” (a typical way babies say “open.)

                            If your child can only use one or two syllable types, he is not going to be able to say lots of different phrases. Even if he tries, you may not be able to understand him because it will be “off-target.”

                            Analyze the kinds of syllable structures your child says by carefully listening to how he says the words. (A word of caution here - new talkers do not need to be constantly corrected for their first word attempts. Do not take this as a license to overcorrect. This should be a process of analysis, not an opportunity to prematurely begin work on articulation!)

                            Note if most of his words are the same patterns. This is common for children who are late talkers and especially those with apraxia, phonological disorders, dysarthria, or whatever else you want to call it.

                            If most words are the same pattern, you’re going to have to work on introducing new syllable structures. This requires some thought and careful planning. If you’re not naturally good at it, call in a speech-language pathologist to give you some assistance. (Another word of caution - Your child may not be able to do this without special coaching, and you may not be able to teach him. Don’t despair if you can’t get him to pronounce a new pattern. I had to go to college for 6 years to learn how to do it!)

                            For children who did not babble or produce jargon (saying short syllable strings with inflection similar to adult speech), this step may be unrealistic for a while, since difficulties with verbal sequencing is likely the reason he is talking late. Some therapists try to teach kids to babble or jargon by modeling this for them. I must confess that I am horrible at this!

                            Instead, I sing to them using very familiar songs. Singing is the best way to practice sequencing because we get help from the melodic (The technical term is “prosodic”) qualities of speech. Remember all the advice about using a “sing-song” kind of voice from the What Works article? It’s the same idea. I encourage kids to sing by “bouncing” or dancing during singing. Sometimes I just hum the song to get them going. Or you could use a single syllable he can say and repeat it to the tune of a familiar song. There’s more about the benefits of singing later in this article.

                            5. Your child needs to hear a variety of two-word phrases before he is able to imitate them.

                            What can you do to work on this at home? Frequently model short two-word phrases during the day. Try to vary your categories too. (See #2 above if you’ve forgotten this already!) Don’t get stuck always modeling, “Noun + Verb.” “Mommy sees.” “Blocks fall.” “(Name) eats.”

                            Vary the way you model phrases.

                            Verb + Noun - “Read book,” or “Eat cookie.”
                            Pronoun + Verb - “I run.”
                            Pronoun + Noun - “My shoe,” or “You(r) turn.”
                            Adjective + Noun - “Yucky milk.”
                            Noun + Preposition - “Arm in.”

                            Expand his single words to phrases and repeat these to him.

                            When he says, “Car” to ask for a car, model, “Want car.”
                            When he sees a car and is labeling “car,” model, “There’s car.”
                            When he’s making the car move, model, “Go car.”
                            When you are playing cars with him, take it from him and teasingly model, “My car.”

                            Remember that lots of the language directed to a late-talking toddler should be at or just above his expressive language level. For new talkers, you should be using mostly single words and short, two-word phrase utterances when you’re talking directly to them in play and in daily routines.

                            6. Your child should be able to imitate two-word phrases before he can consistently produce them on his own.

                            (Okay - here’s another disclaimer. Sometimes kids with apraxia can say phrases on their own initially better than they can imitate them due to the difficulty with imitating anything, especially a challenging sound sequence, which usually includes phrases.)

                            Teach phrase patterns so he has a model of what words to combine. Use predictable patterns for extra practice since motor planning will be easier if one word is changed.

                            The ones I start with first are:

                            More + (Noun he says frequently) (Noun he says frequently) + please

                            More + please Bye-bye + (Name/noun he says frequently)

                            If your child has used sign language, it may be helpful to model the sign as you are saying the word.

                            Even if your child has “dropped” signs in lieu of words, you may want to pull them out again as a strategy to help him “motor plan” for phrases.

                            Another way I use signs at this level is for me to sign the word, but not say it, as a cue to help the child know what to say. If he can’t do it with this no verbal cue, I mouth or even whisper the word. Sometimes kids can even say a phrase in unison with me, but not repeat it. If your child is interrupting you while you are modeling, he’s indicating that this technique will work for him, especially if he’s doesn’t “finish” the phrase without you.

                            One mistake many people (including therapists) make when practicing phrases is to break up the phrase into single words. For example, they have the child repeat, “more,” then “milk.” This is okay for one time or perhaps two, but please resist the urge to split up phrases every time you practice! This defeats your purpose! Model the phrase with the words together. You already know he can say single words. You’re working on phrases!

                            If a child keeps repeating the first or second word as the phrase, such as “ball ball” for cheese ball, he is having difficulty with motor planning. Keep using these strategies. He needs them!

                            Another thing I do is to model the phrase using a sing-song tone of voice. Again, this helps with motor planning/programming because of the rhythm and prosodic (melodic) qualities. Your kid won’t sound like this forever, but doing this now may give him a shot at being able to produce phrases sooner.

                            When he’s imitating those well, move on to other patterns including:

                            Hi + Name/Noun Night-night + Name/Noun

                            (For you purists out there, “good night” is usually too hard!)

                            When he’s doing these well, I listen for words he says frequently to model and prompt as phrases.

                            If he says, “go” and “choo-choo,” I model the phrase both ways to see what’s easier for him to imitate, “Go choo-choo,” or “Choo-choo go.” I always keep these kinds of “probes” in context too. Don’t sit down with your word list while he’s having a snack and try to see what he can imitate. Keep it real!

                            7. Some kids need an “in-between” step when making the leap from single words to two-word phrases.

                            Some kids need that extra practice with sequencing before they are able to try phrases. I like to use the same word for this kind of practice. Use words in a repetitive pattern like “up, up, up.” Location words/prepositions and verbs/action words usually lend themselves better to this kind of practice. Try, “Walk, walk, walk,” as you’re walking or making an animal walk in play. Try, “Down, down, down” when you’re going doing the stairs.

                            Another way I practice is to label pictures in a book or toys placed in a line on the floor sequentially. (This is a great way to work in a language focus for kids who line up all their toys!) Start with all of the same kinds of objects. For example, if he’s lined up all his trains, point to each one and say, “Choo-choo, choo-choo, choo-choo.”

                            Instead of counting objects or pictures of like items, I practice labeling them. For example, in a counting book with a picture of a group of dogs, I point to each one and say, “Dog, dog, dog.”

                            I also practice with different pictures or objects in play when a child’s sequencing is better. Try to stick with words she can already say. For example, when playing with dolls, place a few items in a row and label, “Baby, milk, sock.” Pause between words, but not for too long or you’ll defeat the purpose of practicing to improve sequencing.

                            8. Take advantage of “automatic” speech.

                            When something is familiar to us, it becomes “automatic.” When you’ve heard something over and over again, your brain “recognizes” and “predicts” the next part. Use this with your child.

                            One way to practice this is with books with repetitive themes. Look for ones with a tag line that’s repeated over and over. Again, make sure this makes sense to your toddler.

                            Another way to practice this is by singing familiar songs. When your child has heard a song many times, his brain begins to expect what comes next. You can use this to get new words by singing a line from the song and pausing for him to complete the next word. Toddlers usually do this best when you leave the blank at the end of the phrase. For example, sing, “Row, row, row your” and wait for your child to sing, “Boat.” This works best when it’s an age-appropriate word. The next line in this song illustrates my point. “Gently down the _______.” I don’t know a two-year old with typically developing language skills who says, “Stream” in everyday conversation. Be sure you’re using common sense in choosing which words you expect him to say.

                            When you’re singing, be sure to slow down the rate so he has time to catch up. This is the main reason you should sing, and not rely on CDs. You can control the speed! Some children’s CDs and toys sing so fast that I can’t even keep up.

                            Don’t forget to try other familiar sequential phrases such as, “Ready,” and pause for him to say,

                            “Set - Go.” Or “1″ and wait for him to say, “2 - 3.” Make up your own cute phrases at home during daily routines and say them over and over so your toddler expects what’s coming next. We had lots of these in our house (and still do!)

                            9. Try wholistic phrases if your toddler is really struggling.

                            As a rule, I don’t model lots of these unless I don’t think I can get phrases any other way. Sometimes children with apraxia can imitate or “pop out” a holistic phrase and then it becomes part of their core vocabulary. Good ones to try are:

                            I did it I got it There it is Here you go
                            See ya Where (did it) go?

                            Right there Right here That one This one
                            No way! Oh man!

                            Gimme 5

                            I also try funny, novel sequences such as, “Oooh - Yuck,” “Uh-oh Spaghettios,” or “Oopsy daisy” to help move sequencing along if I’m not having any luck with more traditional combinations.

                            10. Listen for any “pop out” phrases and try to elicit them again in similar situations.

                            Pay attention to any “accidental” phrase he might use and try to get your little guy to say it again. You may have to set up the same situation later to see if lightning will strike twice. Remember that repetition is what increases the strength of your child’s brain’s motor pathways or connections for speech. Do all you can to help your child be able to say the phrase again, without lots of obvious pressure. Sometimes the more you push, the harder it is for him! Set up the situation and wait (and hope and pray!)

                            As long as the resources assist (and do not undermine) the foundations for classical education, feel free to post other good resources, so we can all benefit. In this case, the author's premise highlights imitation, a key element of classical education.

                            We can adapt these suggestions to our children's classical Christian education. For example, "A-men," "Lord have mercy," or even "Agnus Dei" can become words and phrases we attempt to teach during prayer. Manners including "more, please" and "thank you" assist character development. And as we begin early academics, phrases with colors, numbers, and nouns can be taught in similar ways, such as "red ball" or "two apples."



                              Little ones

                              My daughter has Severe Apraxia and I have been told she learns best through Hands on Crafts pertaining to her letter sound that she is learning and Music.
                              Nursery Rhymes as a focus is recommended.Also tracing and cutting practice sheets especially tracing shapes and cutting lines. Memory games are also recommended but lots of repetition with a theme for ex.

                              B sound

                              Baa Baa Black Sheep story and music with a craft activity and games but all inter twined to the one focus topic

                              Apraxia learns best through mutli sensory learning.