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Eye Contact in Apraxia Therapy

Apr 04, 2024

Does a child need eye contact for apraxia therapy?

There is a misconception that a child must maintain eye contact during apraxia therapy. Here are the attention skills required for a child to engage in apraxia therapy:
  • The child should display joint attention skills, which involve participating in an activity with an adult, serving as a crucial foundation for apraxia therapy. 

    Click here to receive a free handout with activities to improve joint attention skills 

  • To benefit from visual cues, the child must focus on the clinician's face. Since apraxia involves movement sequences, observing the clinician's articulators in action helps in imitating the sequence.
  • Using prompts like “eyes on me” or “watch my mouth” helps maintain focus on the movement.

Joint attention and attention to the clinician's face or mouth differ from direct eye contact. Direct eye contact is challenging for some children and even adults, and it is not a requirement for apraxia therapy.

Initially, a child may need time to learn to watch the clinician's face for visual cues, especially if they had prior language-based therapy that did not emphasize this aspect. Patience is key in this process. Start by having the child attend to one word production before receiving a reinforcer.  With time, the child will grasp the concept and begin to repeat the word multiple times before needing a reward.

Click here to read more on using sensory activities to improve attention

 

Free Target Selection Handout for CAS

Learn how to choose target words for minimally verbal children, understand

multisensory cueing, and other do's and don'ts in apraxia therapy.