Jake's Journey with Apraxia

And the Friends We Met Along the Way


Speech therapy over the past few months has been slam-packed with many highs and lows. Summer to fall of 2012 was difficult for us and when Jake started his new diet/supplementation plan, it just got worse. He could no longer sit in that tiny little plastic chair and repeat those flash cards anymore. He was over it. He was speaking better than ever at home, but doing terrible in speech therapy. For anyone who has ever experienced this problem, it is frustrating for all parties involved.

In retrospect, however, it’s easy to see the things that make us uncomfortable typically force us to make a change.


In October I took Lynn Carahaly’s webinar “Auditory Processing Deficits in Children with CAS: Effects on Speech Production and Literacy.” Thanks to a recommendation from a fellow apraxia mama friend, the Speech-EZ apraxia iPad app, which Lynn created, was already in our arsenal of apraxia tools. I spent much of last year going to speech therapy twice a week and drilling these electronic flash cards once or twice a week. I would focus on sounds that we were working on with our SLP.

After taking Lynn’s webinar, I read the entire Speech-EZ parent manual front to back. Once I became educated in her approach, which I think is genius, I learned that we had been treating Speech-EZ like an iPad app, not as the apraxia program that it is. A big component of her program uses hand cues for sounds and since Jake did so well with Zoo-Phonics over the summer, I knew he’d be a great candidate for this method.

Although I had hinted around to my SLP that Jake was very receptive to hand cues, she had not been doing them. In November she had to cancel a therapy session and I saw another SLP in her practice.

The rest is history. Jake had the best therapy session of his life with the substitute SLP. Many times during those thirty minutes, my eyes were flooded with tears because words I had never heard before were flying out of his mouth like magic.

Fate. The new SLP did hand cues with him and the response was phenomenal. While he had really progressed with our other SLP for most of the year, I think he simply needed a change. I could sense that his speech was at the brink of bigger and better things and hand cues have been a great tool to push him to the next level.

Our new SLP is doing the Speech-EZ cues in therapy twice a week and I am doing the same ones at home. She and Jake’s chemistry is still great and I feel beyond blessed to have such a strong, open-minded, knowledgeable, intuitive, and hard-working SLP on Team Jake!

Also, I am such a fan of Lynn Carahaly’s program, that Jake will be doing a four-day intensive at Foundations Developmental House in May. I am beyond thrilled to give Jake this opportunity and since he will be turning five in September, I am especially interested in the importance Lynn places on including phonological awareness in the early intervention treatment for apraxia. Jake loves books and if he needs extra help reading and writing, I want the best helping him to achieve this.

At one point, I thought Jake would end up at the Kaufman Children’s Center for intensive services with the miracle worker Nancy Kaufman, but I think with his current rate of progression, Foundations Developmental House is a better fit for us.

Click here to learn more about Foundations Developmental House.

7 thoughts on “The Magic of Hand Cues

  1. Aww, I’m so glad you found that new speech therapist. Sounds like she was an answer to prayer! And I almost cried when you wrote “He has found his voice, he just needs a little TLC to perfect it.” I’m so glad he has found his voice and so grateful you are sharing his journey with us.

    Can you share any resources or websites that teach how to do hand cues? I would love to use them with my son, but haven’t found a speech therapist in our area who uses them or PROMPT. 😦

    1. tstarmom says:

      Hi Jenn! Sorry I’m just now getting back to you. Thanks so much for your comments. Yes, a BIG HUGE answer to prayer, that’s for sure. The 2 resources I liked in the beginning can be found to the right of this page … “Basic Articulation Touch Cues” and “Speech Sound Hand Signals from Taft Early Learning Center.” I tried these out here and there before starting the Speech-EZ cues. Also, I’d like to recommend going to You Tube and looking at the videos that Lynn Carahaly with Foundations Developmental House has posted. You may need to do a search for Speech-EZ Apraxia Program to find them. These videos are good to see exactly *how* you cue. I was always confused how to do blends (like “st”)or when to cue if they were getting some, but not all sounds right. Best of luck to you!

      1. Thanks for the reply, it was greatly appreciated! I had found a couple videos that teach hand cues, but we’re still working on getting my son to say all his vowel sounds, and most info I come across do not show cues for vowel sounds. The Lynn Carahaly videos were helpful. Thanks! 🙂

  2. mamajoyx9 says:

    Wow. What an exciting post! Noah is still adjusting to his new therapist and extreme PROMPT (his SLP is a PROMPT instructor, so the entire session is focused on PROMPT and not just using PROMPT as a tool). No startling results yet, but I do think there is something very powerful about PROMPTs, be it tactile or visual. I suspect Noah would do even better with visual prompts, but we have to give this a reasonable trial. That motor planning stuff is such hard work for our little guys.


  3. Lacey Howland says:

    Just a question…. We are really considering the speech ez program for our autistic two year old who also has apraxia. But she also has motor planning issues and has been unable to learn how to sign, clap, and wave. So I’m wondering, would the visual prompts still be effective if she was not doing them or learning them. She would just see me doing them. We also just started with a new prompt therapist.

    1. tstarmom says:

      Lacey – From the beginning, Jake was a master at reading hand cues. I did them & he could respond. He was really an excellent candidate for this type of therapy though. When I visited Lynn Carahaly, she said it is very important for them to do the cue and not just read them. She said results will come quicker if they do it themselves. With that being said, they don’t have to do the cue exactly to see benefits. Jake’s fine motor was weak when we first started. He didn’t start out doing them perfectly. Jake had problems waving and signing also at age 2. You could always purchase the app that only has the hand cues, which is a lot less expensive. Or, if you get this reply in time, visit the Speech-EZ Facebook page. Today (1/15) they are offering a major sale and I think you can get the entire app for under $100. Prompt should help also.

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