Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way

After nine months of working with the Kaufman Treatment Kit 1, Jake has finally graduated to new sounds. Although I love these cards and fully understand the importance of repetitive practice, I was more than ready to move on. As I mentioned in recent posts, we are now practicing /l/, /f/, /s/, and /z/ words. We are practicing these sounds using the Artic Photos Fun Deck cards and Ms. Kelly printed out some words from Super Duper that we can work on at home.

Out of all these sounds, Jake is having the most difficulty with the /l/ sound. Many important words start with this letter … specifically his brother’s name and “love,” the four letters I’ve been waiting patiently to hear for quite some time now. I want this liquid consonant to flow out of his mouth beautifully and perfectly.


I looked on the Speech Sound Acquisition chart that I keep handy and was happy to see that most children start saying this sound at three, but do not master it until age six.

/L/ is difficult for him because he struggles to put his tongue behind his top front teeth. Hand prompts seem to really work for him, but we’re not doing them that often in speech therapy right now. At home, I’ve been getting him to practice the /l/ sound a lot with the lizard Zoo Phonics prompt.

I’ve also started using the Speech-EZ hand prompt … form a L with thumb and pointer finger and bring hand to mouth while saying the sound. (Speech EZ Apraxia iPad Program) We’ve already done this prompt today and Lil’ Man thought it was way cool that he could make a capital L with his hand.

Another tidbit of advice I got from the Chicago Speech Therapy website was to practice the /l/ sound by singing songs that have “la, la, la” in them. Also, after looking at the manual that came with my Kids’ Express Train Ket Set 1, I found out that track 4 on the Vocalocomotion CD is “Tongue Tip Time,” which “emphasizes tongue movement through consonant-vowel imitation of the t,d, and n sounds.”

This week my other two kids started school and Jake’s going to be spending a lot more time in the car. So, I put the Express Train CD back in the mini van and also made my very own CD with songs that have the words “la, la, la” in them.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
  • “Tonight Tonight” (La, la, la, whatever) by Hot Chelle Rae
  • “The Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog
  • “Lola” by The Kinks
  • Deck the Halls (When you have a child with apraxia, you can never start practicing Christmas songs too early)
  • “Sha la la” by Manfred Mann
  • “Sing” by The Carpenters
  • “Elmo’s World” (Seriously … if I can tolerate it)
  • “Goodbye Earl” by The Dixie Chicks (I know the lyrics are not politically correct, but it’s still got a catchy tune and it makes me smile.)
  • “We Danced Anyway” by Deanna Carter

I can’t wait to listen to these new tunes in the car and I’m curious to see if Jake takes the bait and tries to sing along to the lyrics.

4 thoughts on “Apraxia Therapy and the /L/ Sound

  1. Kristi says:

    My son Anthony, who will be 3 in December, is suspected of having Apraxia. His previous speech therapist told me that they cannot diagnose him as having Apraxia, officially anyway, until the age of 3. He has been in speech therapy for “speech delay” (home visits once a week) since last October. He just recently switched to clinical-based therapy which occurs twice a week. His current therapist puts him at the speech level or stage of an 19-month old.

    As a baby, he was a super picky eater once he transitioned to solid foods. It was also a fight to brush his teeth/gums and he rarely let me touch his mouth. He was super picky with what he would eat (milk, goldfish, yogurt and cookies were the only things I could get him to consume for a long time). After voicing my concerns with his pediatrician, he was referred to a therapist around 10 months of age to help with his sensory food aversion. This type of therapy lasted for about 4 months, and helped minimally.

    When I began to notice his speech delay-I realized that there was a correlation between his sensory food aversion and his probable diagnosis of Apraxia. I have done some internet research on Apraxia, but have yet to find any real documentation connecting sensory food aversion with speech delay and/or apraxia. I am wondering if this is something you have heard of before, or if your own son was a picky eater and/or had issues with his mouth as baby?

    I try to only let my son consume organic and/or all natural products as much as possible. But now I am concerned that there may be an allergy connection to his speech delay as well. I wanted to know how exactly a food allergy would worsen the issues of apraxia? I believe you mentioned in an earlier post that you went to a holistic doctor for testing. I am looking forward to hearing what the results are from that appointment. I am hoping to get my son tested for allergies as well. He is still a pretty picky eater and his progression when it comes to his speech has been very slow. Also, I wanted to really try and start to potty train him, but since his verbal communication is so far behind and he does not otherwise make me aware of when he *goes*, I worry that this will be a major hurdle. Any help with potty training a child with apraxia would be greatly appreciated as well.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with your own son and apraxia-I have found your blog super helpful! I just ordered the Baby Babble DVD you recommended previously and look forward to trying it out with my son.


    1. tstarmom says:

      Thanks for sharing your story Kristi. Many SLPs wait until a child is 3 before giving them an apraxia diagnosis, mine included. The day before Jake’s birthday, he was tested by our public school system and he tested at a 10 month old level. If you are dealing with someone who suspects apraxia, but won’t give you an official diagnosis, my suggestion would be to see if they will do Kaufman cards with him and hand prompts. Both of these things helped Jake & were things I wish we would have done in “basic” speech therapy from age 27 months to 35 months.

      I would consider Jake a picky eater, but not over the top. There are definitely things he hates & responds to differently than my other 2 kids who “hated” things. For example, milk. He hasn’t drank milk since he was 18 months old because he gags & acts like he’s going to throw up. Mashed potatoes is another example. He’s never had trouble brushing his teeth, physical problems with eating, drooling, etc. One commonality of apraxic kids is that most have bits & pieces of similar symptoms, but also many differences.

      When I took Jake to the holistic physician, I was surprised to learn that apraxia was a sub-category under sensory processing disorders. I never “officially” knew this. If you want to learn more about nutritional deficiencies/allergies and how they affect the bodies & brains of kids with sensitive systems, read the book “The Autism Revolution” by Dr. Martha Herbert. The Morris-Agin research study on apraxia is cited in this book and even though it is technically on autism, it answered many questions that I had. August 29th we get our results from the blood work back. I haven’t been blogging much on this topic b/c I have so much to write about, I don’t have the time (or word count in a blog!) to do it. I have been keeping my own notes every day in a journal, however, so that I can keep track of what does and does not work.

      Potty training – This wasn’t that big of a deal for us, thank goodness. My other son was easy to potty train also, so maybe it runs in the family? In the beginning, Jake liked shooting Fruit Loops in the toilet. We did this for a couple of weeks and it worked for us. 🙂

  2. Bert and Ernie also sing an L sound which has la la la la followed by words that start with L. It’s actually pretty cute and goes at a slower pace.

  3. Mo says:

    This may not float Jake’s boat, so to speak, but my daughter LOVES the beat to this song which is full of la-la’s… http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=XgEfYGzojcA

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