The best books for parents who have a child with apraxia

Lisa F. Geng Author Of The Late Talker
By Lisa F. Geng

The Books I Picked & Why

The Out-Of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder

By Carol Stock Kranowitz

The Out-Of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder

Why this book?

Sensory processing disorder or SPD is a difficult condition to explain as it can involve one or more of any of our senses, so can present differently in each child. It would be considered one of the neurological “soft signs” meaning that a diagnosis of SPD typically means there is more going on than a simple developmental lag. Today the majority of children diagnosed with apraxia also have coexisting soft signs such as SPD, hypotonia (low tone), and/or motor deficits in the body. It’s important if apraxia is diagnosed or suspected to take your child to either a pediatric neurologist or developmental pediatrician to confirm or rule out soft signs in the body.

When Tanner was little and his only “words” were “mmm” or “ma” we were at the Chelsea Piers in NYC. Tanner had a sensory meltdown and if you’ve never seen one it can be very intense. His whole body stiffened up, his eyes were bulging and he was screaming “MA!” with his arms stretched out where strangers were passing us looking at him as if we just grabbed him away from his mother. My Aunt was one of the adults with us that day. Even though she had her doctorate in nursing, she didn’t know how to calm Tanner down, and in most cases, nobody knew how to deal with SPD back in 1999 when this happened. When the book The Out of Sync Child was published, it was then and still is a game-changer for knowing about and helping your child with SPD. 


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The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs, a Guide for Parents and Teachers

By Sue Schwartz

The New Language of Toys: Teaching Communication Skills to Children with Special Needs, a Guide for Parents and Teachers

Why this book?

When you have a child with a severe communication impairment, they probably are in therapy almost every day of their life. Too often, I’ve found parents forget children with special needs are still children.  While appropriate speech therapy is critical for apraxia, children learn through play, and too often the importance of play is underestimated. What I love about The New Language of Toys is it shows us, the parents (as well as therapists) how to take typical toys found around the house to use as fun therapy tools to help bring your child a voice.  

 I used to work in toy design prior to being a parent so being able to use toys as therapy for speech is amazing. In addition, it helps the child’s self-esteem when you can teach them how to play, something that doesn’t always come naturally to a percentage of children with special needs. This book is useful for therapists too, however, even if you have no training to be a therapist, and you don’t consider yourself creative, this book will walk you through how to use toys to become one of your child’s best therapists at home.


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Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

By Ron Suskind

Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

Why this book?

If you have a child diagnosed with apraxia, a rare but growing neurologically-based communication impairment, you are probably aware of the lack of research for apraxia in children. Life, Animated is geared towards those raising a child with autism. While apraxia is considered to be “on the spectrum” not every child with apraxia meets the requirements for a diagnosis of autism, some of the treatments that have been found helpful for autism, have been found useful to address apraxia as well. In addition, a Penn State study found 64% of those with autism have apraxia. 

Life, Animated is helpful in a number of ways. Like The New Language of Toys, it demonstrates how we as parents can become instrumental in helping our children breakthrough to find their voices. It teaches us to look outside of the evidence to integrative methods that may help. Knowing which toy, activity, or subject matter grabs our child’s attention and makes them shine is something we know as our child’s expert. Learning how one father utilized his autistic son’s fixation as a form of therapy is something we can each seek to do as well to help our children at home.

Prior to this book being published, I utilized this type of method when Tanner was little and fixated on Pokémon. Even though his therapists wanted to focus speech therapy on functional language such as the word “more”, his motivation to learn to say Pokémon superseded his desire to learn to say anything else. Going to Tanner’s world and what he wanted and allowing him to try to learn how to say Pokémon names was a starting point that enabled both me at home as well as with his traditional speech therapy. 


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Your Special Education Rights: What Your School District Isn't Telling You

By Jennifer Laviano, Julie Swanson

Your Special Education Rights: What Your School District Isn't Telling You

Why this book?

Unlike parents who have a child that is born deaf or blind where protocols are in place by law, if you have a child with a communication impairment like apraxia, you have to advocate a lot for your child or they may not receive the therapies and placement that are appropriate for them. To make it even more complicated, there is no one set classification for a child with apraxia. If your child is deaf or has a diagnosis such as autism, the school system has a classification for those diagnoses. For just about any other communication impairment your child can be classified from “other health impaired” to “developmentally delayed” Some schools may have communication or speech impairments as a classification, but not all.

This book is a start to helping you learn how to become an advocate for your late talker child. After advocating for both of my special needs sons, and trying to learn special education law which I found overwhelming, I like books like this that tell it like it is. While this book is not just geared for communication impairments, there are very few if any that are, and this book helps break down the process in a way that is understanding. Learning our children’s rights to a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment is a tool so that instead of feeling confused and intimidated at the IEP meeting, you are actively working with the rest of the IEP team.


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Chicken Soup for the Soul: All Your Favorite Original Stories Plus 20 Bonus Stories for the Next 20 Years

By Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Amy Newmark

Chicken Soup for the Soul: All Your Favorite Original Stories Plus 20 Bonus Stories for the Next 20 Years

Why this book?

As a parent of a child diagnosed with apraxia, you probably have heard, “what’s wrong with him?” at least once. If not, be prepared, because when you hear it and you aren’t ready for it, it can feel like someone knocked the wind out of you. I didn’t only love the Chicken Soup for the Soul books for me, but I also would share the stories I felt were of interest with my boys who both were diagnosed as young children with severe special needs. What these books brought me and my boys was pride, hope, and inspiration that from a rough beginning, there can be a bright future. Actually, in some cases, these stories share it’s due to a rough start that the person ended up becoming a better person.

While my son Tanner was little and I read stories to him from the Chicken Soup for the Soul book, I didn’t know how much he understood because back when he was little he was essentially nonverbal. In kindergarten, the public school said that Tanner due to their (inappropriate) testing, “wouldn’t make it” in a mainstream kindergarten class and needed to be schooled in a self-contained learning disabled placement. 

Due to my advocating for him, he attended a mainstream kindergarten class and remained there to go on to even being an honors student by the time he was in high school. Tanner attended and graduated from UCF in central Florida where he was on the Dean’s list. Currently, Tanner is taking the LSATs to attend law school where he wants to pursue his goal to become a special education attorney so he can help other children like himself. Tanner became my personal chicken soup for the soul.


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