Thursday, February 28, 2013

7 Common Myths of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

By Melanie Feller, M.A., CCC-SLP

speech bubbles
Proper diagnosis of a language concern is crucial to effective and appropriate treatment. Childhood apraxia of speech (aka developmental apraxia of speech/dyspraxia/verbal apraxia) is frequently both over, and under-diagnosed. Ineffective and inefficient treatment can result.
Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a difficulty coordinating and planning out the production of sounds. It is a disorder of motor planning. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but can’t get his or her mouth to do what the brain wants.
Specific signs of CAS include, but are not limited to:
  • Limited babbling/sentence production: In younger children, they may not babble much and sequencing of sounds may be limited. The older child may produce shorter sentences
  • Groping: The child may have obvious difficulty putting sounds together. Groping may be noted, meaning that the child may move his mouth around in an attempt to find the correct place in which to make the desired sound.
  • Difficulty with spontaneous speech: The child may have difficulty initiating speech, not because of lack of desire, but because of difficulty producing the sounds and “getting started”. The child may also simplify words.
  • Difficulty with accurate imitation: The child with CAS may not imitate sounds or movements accurately. The child with CAS will have difficulty imitating oral posture (i.e. round lips, blow a kiss), and may have difficulty imitating sounds..
7 Common Myths of CAS
  • An expressive language delay (insufficient language at the child’s age) must mean the child has CAS.
  • CAS is life-long, and the child will never speak properly as a result
  • CAS results from oral muscle weakness.
  • A wait-and-see approach is a good option.
  • Any speech pathologist can treat CAS.
  • CAS requires hundreds of dollars spent on special programs and special therapy materials.
  • One session per week is sufficient for a child diagnosed with CAS
Myth 1: An expressive language delay must mean a child has CAS.
An expressive language delay and CAS are NOT the same thing. An expressive language delay means that the child is demonstrating verbal behaviors similar to that of a child at a younger age. The child with CAS is demonstrating verbal behaviors that are not considered appropriate at any age. Just because the child isn’t speaking sufficiently for his or her age doesn’t mean he or she has CAS.

Myth 2: CAS is life-long, and my child will never speak properly as a result.
While there are children who continue to demonstrate minor speech issues, as well as those that are more significantly affected, the majority of children with CAS go on to lead lives with average speech abilities. A diagnosis of CAS is not an indication that the child will not be able to communicate effectively as he ages.

To read more, click here.....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

RtI Should Not Delay an Evaluation

Originally posted on Wrightslaw.

A special ed teacher asks, “When a parent asks for a special ed evaluation, our district makes the child go through RTI - even when the team sees strong evidence of learning disabilities. When a parent asks the school to evaluate, what are their rights?”

A parent asks, “When we asked the school to evaluate our child, the school advised that they could not evaluate until our child goes through RTI. If we do not agree to RTI, they wlll not evaluate or provide any services. This is causing long delays in getting an IEP. Is this legal?”

School districts should not use RTI to delay, or worse, to not evaluate children who are suspected of having specific learning disabilities.

videoIn a new video, Pete Wright answers questions from parents and teachers who are concerned that schools are using RTI to delay or deny evaluations and IEPs.

****If you have questions about RtI and what it means for your child's education, please contact us at Family Matters.  Our phone number is 866-436-7842.****

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

3 Things to Teach Your Kids Now About Their ADHD

By Diane Dempster, MHSA, CPC, ACC

Special Education Articles

What should you say to your kids about their ADHD? When should you start talking about it? The answer is simple to parenting ADHD kids: teach what they can understand, and do it now. Education and awareness are important tools. Knowledge is power, and it can help your kids be successful. There are three critical conversations that you can have at any age (with some minor adjustments for young ADDers).

1. Understand your Brain
It’s important, even at young ages, that all children understand what their brains need to do their job well. Since ADD brains work differently in some ways, it’s all the more important information for our kids to understand that:
  • Brains need food & water. We should eat healthy food and drink water on a regular basis. If your child does better on a special diet, like gluten free, increased omegas, or decreased refined sugar, make sure they know what works for them, and why.
  • Brains need down-time. Getting enough sleep is important. ADD kids often have trouble sleeping, for a variety of reasons. Helping them understand the importance of sleep can encourage them to make it a priority. Down-time during the day is also helpful. Meditation, prayer and quiet have been shown to increase calm and focus. Finding time every day to sit quietly, even if it’s only for a minute, is a great habit that will support them for a lifetime.
  • Brains need motivation & focus. The ADHD brain is different. Teach your children that their brain needs to be really interested in a task in order to get it done. Some people have a “just get it done” button in their brain, but ADD brains typically don’t. Help your kids find a motivator (like a reward after a task) for each activity that requires them to focus.
Even though the brain is a critical part of our day to day functioning, these basic needs often go unspoken. When you raise awareness and understanding, you’ll likely get kids who are more interested in doing what they need to stay healthy and on-task (even if they don’t start doing it right away!).

2. Take Responsibility
Since our kids are often behind their peers developmentally, it’s important to support them in taking on what they can, when they are ready. When my son was first diagnosed, every day on the way to school we talked about what his job was. Was his job to stay focused and pay attention? Nope! He has an ADD brain and that was not a reasonable expectation at that time. His job: when he noticed, or was told he was off task, he needed to take action – do something to try and get back on task. Every time.

To read more, click here.....

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What is going on here? Autism, Uneven Development and Periods of Consolidation

legoby Leah Kelley--Originally posted on Special Education Advisor

Some time ago I was reading a post by a parent who was commenting on her surprise that her child was suddenly gaining a myriad of skills – seemingly out of the blue. This was not just happening in one area, but in multiple areas: her previously non-verbal child was using new words and in the correct social context, and also trying new foods, and open to new sensory experiences.

What I have noticed over the years with H is that his progress is anything but even – especially if we look at it on a small scale. There are days when it has definitely felt like the cliché two steps forward – one step back. (However, I suppose there is often truth or reality at the centre of a cliché – and a noticing of a pattern or a tendency – or it wouldn’t be a cliché in the first place.)

It can be difficult to see those steps backward – but what I have learned is that the way to deal with this is to focus on the big picture with my child’s development. Here is the guiding question I try to ask: When considering the big picture (an image of your child’s development over time) is the trajectory of progress positive? If so… the little day-to-day blips, hills, and valleys are likely not of major consequence in terms of development.

When H was first identified as having autism, it was reinforced for us by some very wise professionals that this was a life-time journey: that parenting a child with autism was a marathon and not a sprint – and we have tried to operate accordingly. In retrospect this has been useful advise and we have held it to some extent as a guiding principle. Our child is developing differently than other children – at a different rate that is not necessarily attached or correlated to the number of wax candles on his birthday cake.

To read more, click here....



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

7 Things You Might Not Know to Ask for When Transitioning Your Autistic Child to Middle School

Leigh Merryday is a school media specialist and autism parent blogger at She is married with two children — a typical five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son on the autism spectrum. In her spare time, she vehemently denies being addicted to Facebook, reading, and peanut butter fudge. No one believes her.

Originally posted on

middle school

"Middle school" is a scary phrase for most parents. Thoughts of your baby wandering around a big school, trying to find his classes and being run over by much bigger 8th graders are frightening. He will no longer be cocooned in the safety of his elementary classroom with a teacher who knows him well, and there is the expectation your child will be able to function more independently. But what if your child is on the autism spectrum? What if he has difficulty advocating for his needs? What if he is difficult to understand? Or becomes overwhelmed? How do you rest easy knowing that his differences may make him an easier target for bullies?

I am a middle school teacher/media specialist and an autism parent. In my 15 years of teaching middle school, I have encountered many children on the autism spectrum. Some struggle and, yes, some do quite well. I have learned small things can make all the difference for our special kids. Unfortunately, many parents don't know they can ask for special assistance. Without the proper plans in place to begin with, it can take months or years for solutions to occur to teachers or administrators.
Every child is different — autism or not. The following ideas are things I have seen to be most helpful for spectrum kids surviving middle school:

Click here to read more....

***If you would like more information on transitioning your child to middle or high school, please contact Family Matters at 866-436-7842.****

Monday, February 18, 2013

10 Potential Causes for Off-Task Behavior in School

Top Ten

I attended an IEP this week where the discussion focused mainly on the student’s off task behavior; there are a variety of reasons why a student will exhibit this behavior. The difficulty is identifying the exact reasons why or what triggered the off task behavior. I think we as parents and educators of children with special needs must keep in mind that in order to determine the cause of off task behavior, we must acknowledge all the areas of need first. Most children with special needs have multiple disabilities, so it’s imperative to look at each area as a possible trigger for off task behavior.

1. Is the task being performed a non-preferred task?
Most students have an easier time attending to classroom assignments when the subject is interesting and they enjoy doing it, but they still have to do the tasks they have no interest in. Teachers and parents can establish a reward system for when the student accomplishes a non-preferred task and reward them with a preferred task.

2. Is the task being performed to challenging?

To read more, click here.....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Cerebral Palsy

Do you have an opinion about orthopedic surgery for children with Cerebral Palsy who can walk?

The University of Hartford and the Shriners Hospital for Children are interested in hearing from you!

They want to know what information people need to help make decisions about whether to have surgery to improve the walking abilities of children with Cerebral Palsy.

If you are the  parent or caregiver of a child with CP and surgery has been recommended, or if you are a person with CP and surgery was recommended for you, please participate in this survey.  You must be 18 years old to participate.

Click on the link below.  It will bring you to a brief, confidential survey.  The results will be used to provide families and clinicians with information that will help with making decisions about orthopedic surgery. 

If you have any questions about this study, you may contact the principal investigator, Mary Gannotti, PhD at 860-768-5373 or

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

IEP Meeting Conversation Stoppers

Originally posted on The National Center for Learning Disabilities      By Candace Cortiella, Director, The Advocacy Institute
IEP Meeting-Idividualized Education Program 
Some of the statements made to parents at IEP meetings are "conversation stoppers" — comments that create barriers and can prevent the IEP team from working cooperatively to develop effective special education services and supports for students with disabilities.

Here are nine common "conversation stoppers," some information about what may be the real issues of concern and suggestions for how parents can respond in a forceful but respectful way so that planning for their child can move forward.

Stopper #1: "The general education teacher could not be here today."

What is the issue?

The vast majority of children with disabilities spend most or all of their school day in general education activities or classrooms. It is essential that the general education teacher be an active IEP team member. This does not mean that parents should expect teachers to leave their classrooms for long periods of time. However, it is reasonable to expect the general education teacher to attend IEP meetings to contribute expertise in setting academic, behavorial and social goals, to advise the team about curriculum and help identify where and when adaptations and     accommodations will be needed so that your child can be successful in the general classroom and have meaningful access to the general education curriculum.

Here are possible responses:

"Nina is one of Miss Taylor’s students and we think she is doing very well. However, I have no idea if the goals, accommodation and other supports we are suggesting are going to be helpful to Miss Taylor in adapting the curriculum and classroom activities so Nina can be successful. We need to schedule another IEP meeting so that Miss Taylor can attend for at least part of the time."

"This is the first year my child has been spending a lot of time in a general classroom. I do not want to have IEP meetings without my child’s general education teacher. We can complete the main parts of the IEP and give a draft to Mr. Jones. But then we will need to schedule another IEP Meeting that includes him so that our team is complete."

Click here to read about more conversation stoppers!

If you would like more information about your rights in IEP meetings, please contact an information specialist at Family Matters.  Our number is 866-436-7842.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

How to Help a Selective Eater

by Bec Oakley, author of

If you have autistic kids you probably know the location of every McDonalds within a twenty mile radius of your house.

Maybe you’re an expert at making a meal out of only white foods or your pantry is stocked high with a particular type of cracker. You’re tired of throwing away uneaten meals, and if you see one more article about how many serves of vegetables your kids need in a day you’re going to scream.

Yep, autistic kids can be selective and restrictive eaters. It’s common for their diets to consist of a small number of foods - and by small, I mean tiny. There was a time when Max only ate crackers for every meal.

Note that I didn’t say they can be picky, fussy or finicky. These words imply that there are options, and lead to all kinds of dangerous and useless advice like ‘hungry children will never starve themselves’ and ‘if you give kids a new food seventeen times eventually they’ll try it’. No. Make no mistake about it, selective and restrictive eaters are not just being fussy.

They are trying to survive.

Click here to

***If your child struggles with sensory issues, Family Matters has many resources that might help you.  We have books and pamphlets on sensory and eating issues.  We can also help you include sensory goals in your child's IEP.  Please call us at 866-436-7842.***

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

by Lexi at Mostly True Stuff


Abby’s pretty much a rock star when we go out. People go out of their way to tell me how cute she is, to talk to her, to be close to her. I love this. Most people see her and think she’s beautiful- and not in spite of her Down syndrome. Abby is beautiful.

There have been a few times where people haven’t been so kind. I’ve written about it before. Most of the time, people don’t mean harm. They come from a generation that thought differently about people with Down syndrome, or they have their own preconceived notions about the ‘burden’ my daughter is on society and me. Sometimes they pity me.

When you get into the clinical description of Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome) you hear words like, “mutation” and “abnormal.” These words aren’t meant to hurt, they are meant to describe. There are other words that usually aren’t meant to hurt, but are still too often used in society at large. I’ve heard a few people use the word “mongoloid” to describe my daughter, a few have used the word “retarded” (in the clinical setting, speaking of specific issues of growth and development, this doesn’t irk me the way it does when I hear people use it to describe HER or in using it in ANY OTHER WAY).

Abby was made this way. She is not a mistake. She is not a mongoloid. She is my daughter. And I’m grateful for every bit of her- extra chromosome included.

To read more, click here....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Start with Strengths

Does your son or daughter’s IEP meeting always begin with a laundry list of all their problem areas or deficits? If so, you need to check out the Disability is Natural website ( and read Kathie Snow’s article entitled Start with Strengths! Kathie shared this article in her latest E-newsletter and in it she quotes Robert Conklin who said: "If human beings are perceived as potentials rather than problems, as possessing strengths instead of weakness, as unlimited rather than dull and unresponsive, then they thrive and grow to their capabilities."

Kathie Snow, the founder of Disability is Natural, has a knack for pointing out the obvious in ways to show how absurd are many of the commonly accepted approaches to treating people with disabilities. In her "Strengths" article she begins by asking you to very quickly think of three wonderful things about a person with a disability in your life. Kathie says that when she asks parents, teachers, service providers and therapists to do that, most can’t, but they can easily reel off a list of the person’s deficits. Kathie states, "If you were known primarily by your perceived problems and your medical diagnoses, you wouldn’t be very successful either."

This article is a guide that helps the reader understand the differences that can be made in a person’s achieve-ment when their service planning begins with strengths instead of deficits. Kathie’s examples of real individu-als including her own son, illustrate how this works. A quote from John Lancaster Spalding sums it up, "Those who believe in our ability do more than stimulate us. They create for us an atmosphere in which it becomes easier to succeed."

To read the article, click here. If you are unable to access the internet to view the Disability is Natural website, you can call Family Matters tt 866-436-7842 to have a copy of the article mailed to you.

If you are concerned about your child's IEP, Family Matters can help.  An Information Specialist will review your child's records for free and help you pinpoint areas of concern.  We can help you develop more measurable and specific goals, as well.  Contact us at 866-436-7842.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Special Diets for Special Kids" review and GIVEAWAY!


Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis is a must-have book for anyone interested in starting a gluten-free/casein-free diet. This book is teeming with recipes designed with kids in mind.
I have never read a cookbook that had quite so much information about nutrition and science. This book is for those whose kids are on a gluten-free/casein-free diet, and there is a whole section dedicated to why this sort of diet might be desirable for your child. It goes into how diet can help kids with autism and other special needs, and it details why cleaning up our kids' diets is so important.

What I liked about this book is it had some unusual sections, ones I think especially good for kids. There is a drinks section, as well as one on holiday food. Also included is a section of ethnic food, condiments, and dairy substitutes. I had no idea that you could make substitutions for evaporated milk, whipping cream, and sweetened condensed milk!
The author points that out, too. It's amazing how you can find these ingredients in things like spices and soup mixes--foods you would think are safe.  The best part?  It includes a free CD of printable recipes!
With over 200 recipes, this book has shown me that there are plenty of foods my kids can still eat, and it has encouraged me to try out some changes to our diet.
If you are interested in learning more about GFCF diets and autism, or if you are just looking for some more recipes to sustain your GFCF diet, I recommend checking out this book!
Here are the ways to be entered into the giveaway.  For each of the steps below you will be entered.  This means, you can get your name entered into the giveaway multiple times!!
~~To enter the giveaway, leave a comment here on this post.  Make sure to leave an email address where you can be reached in your comment!
~~For another entry, like us on Facebook  (make sure to leave a comment here, telling us that you have done so)
~~You will be entered in yet again, if you share this on Facebook (please leave the link in the comments section of this post)
~~If you post about this giveaway on your blog, you can get an additional 2 entries.

The giveaway ends Sunday, February10th, at midnight.  Good luck!

Sorry! Due to mailing restrictions, this giveaway is only for residents of the US.