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Parent Tips for Apraxia Home Practice

Updated: Apr 25

Do you ever wonder how your child's speech therapist is magically able to get your child to say words that you've been trying to help them with all week? It can be frustrating for you and your child when they're working so hard to say something, but they just can't get it out correctly!

If this sounds like something you're struggling with, take a look at some of the strategies below. Jot them down in your phone and reference back when you're trying to help your child say their favorite words at home!

Parent playing with their child in speech therapy

1. Draw attention to your mouth.

  • Use phases like "watch my mouth!" or "look at my mouth!" or even "when you watch my mouth, it helps you!"

  • Be sure to say "mouth" so that your child is looking directly at how your mouth moves; not just in the general direction of you.

  • Children with apraxia benefit from saying words at the same time. You can have them try it with you while watching your mouth.

2. Stretch out the sounds in the word and blend them together. Don't "bounce" sounds.

  • For example, when saying the word "hat" model "hhhhhhaaaat". Do not model "huh huh hat". This is because the motor plan for "huh huh hat" is very different than the motor plan for "hat". If you bounce the sounds, your child is learning an entirely different movement than the intended movement of the target word.

  • When stretching sounds, keep a naturalistic sounding voice and don't OVER exaggerate. Stretch the consonants and vowels just enough to slow the movement so your child can watch the transitions your mouth make when you move from sound to sound.

  • Apraxia is a disorder of movement between sounds. We want to teach the child the correct movement pattern.

3. Talk about what your lips, tongue, or jaw are doing for specific sounds.

  • "My lips are touching."

  • "My tongue is up!"

  • "My mouth is small."

  • My tongue is between my teeth."

4. Validate that speech is hard work and can be frustrating. Use growth mindset feedback like, "this is hard, I will help you" or "That's frustrating. Let's take a break and try it again later." Children with apraxia work very hard each day to produce speech that is able to be understood by others. Encourage them to never give up, but also give them a break when necessary.

5. Model words the way you actually say them. Not how they are spelled.

  • Do we actually say the "T" sound in water? Or do we really use more of a "D" sound?

  • Do we say emphasize every single sound in a word? Or do we combine some sounds together? For instance, "I. don't. wan't. to. go." vs. "I donwanna go".

  • "Robotic" or "segmented" speech is common in children with apraxia. We can make it easier for them by modeling words the way we actually say them which helps their speech sound more naturalistic.

6. Don't separate syllables. "ba. na. na". Instead, model the first or second half of the word. "nana, nana, nana, banana!".

7. Try vocabulary cues.

  • Working on "Strawberry?" Try pointing out the word "stir" while pretending to mix with your hands.

  • "Beautiful?" Try finding a word the child can say within that word... like, "beaYOUtiful"

  • How about "dino?" Kids LOVE saying "no".

8. Practice saying words using different voices and emotional inflection.

  • Practice saying things like your mad, happy, sad, excited, scared, proud!

  • Practice making your voice sound like your asking a question vs. making a statement.

Working at home with your child with apraxia doesn't have to be a daunting task. Try out a tip or two and see if any help your child!

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