[Excerpted from Speaking of Apraxia: A Parents' Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech by Leslie A. Lindsay, RN, BSN; copyright © 2012 by Leslie Lindsay; published by Woodbine House. Reprinted with permission.]
Ask if you can observe sessions. This may be the single most important thing you do for your child. It helps you understand what the SLP is doing with your child and it gives you some tricks for learning to communicate more efficiently with your child. Plus, you will see that the techniques your SLP uses are not "rocket science." Once you see them, you can usually do them at home. This is crucial for home practice. If observing is not routinely done in your clinic, ask if there is a way to videotape a session.
Observe unobtrusively. You may watch from a two-way mirror so that your child is not distracted by your presence. You could observe for just a brief period, say ten to twenty minutes of each session. You might just observe by listening -- perhaps sitting in the hallway with the exam door propped open. Listen to the interactions between your child and the therapist. Some parents sit in the room for the entire session. When I did this, however, I became anxious for those words to come. Sometimes it was boring; other times the SLP and I got to talking about something relevant to therapy, but then Kate got less therapy time. When I left those therapy sessions, however, I felt more motivated and eager to model good communication at home.
Know what your child's therapy goals are at all times. If you don't know, ask. It's best to have them in writing so you can refer back to them. Plus, it makes you feel good when you can cross off an achieved goal. (Note that if your child is receiving speech therapy through an early intervention program or public school, the goals will be written in your child's IFSP or IEP.)
Get to know your therapist. Know a bit about her family and interests and ask about them periodically. Because of the intensity of CAS therapy, your SLP may become like a member of the family. We even invited ours to a birthday party! If the SLP doesn't mind sharing his or her email address, get it. Send therapy-related emails occasionally. Ask her opinion on something you read; update her on progress at home. But don't bombard her -- remember your child is just one of many she treats. Developing a close working relationship with your child's SLP shows that you are interested and engaged, and keeps your family on her radar.
Ensure that therapy is an active process for you, as well as your child. Bring reading material that directly relates to the technique your therapist is using. Read it in the waiting room and share it with your SLP. Use the waiting-room time to review your child's progress. Create a timeline of improvements for you and your child to review or make a list of goals you'd like your child to achieve. It can really be motivating.
Make incentives for your child. Perhaps you can take your child to the park after her session. Three sessions of speech therapy could result in a trip to the Dollar Store or an ice-cream cone. Make it fun (and spontaneous) and you and your child will avoid burnout.
Track and celebrate progress. Celebrate your child's small successes with CAS. Remember, every little word, phrase, or sentence is a result of much effort.