Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Childhood Apraxia of Speech: Through a Mother's Eyes

Today, I'm privileged to share this guest post from Leslie- devoted mom of two, one of whom happens to have a diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Leslie has a book on Childhood Apraxia of Speech coming out in early 2012...and after reading this post, I can't wait to read her book! Enjoy. 

Many thanks to Becca for allowing me to be a guest blogger on her site today.  It’s ironic how this world of apraxia works…there’s not much “out there” until you start looking.  I “found” Becca because she was a guest a blogger on PediaStaff.  Her article on “waiting to see” intrigued me.  I contacted her, and well…the rest is history.  But the point I am trying to make is: you just never know what stone you will upturn when you start picking them up. 

Everyone Has a (apraxia) Story…Here’s Ours

At two years old, Kate was a beautiful, energetic and happy toddler.  Amidst the hustle and bustle of a new sibling and a pending move, there were concerns.  With the exception of one word—hi—Kate was as quiet as a box of crayons.  It made us wonder if something was wrong.  Even as a baby, Kate rarely babbled and cried.  She was, in a word, “perfect.”  So why were we worried?  After all, she could understand everything we said, even the big words.  “Play classical music.  Dance with her.  Babies need that so their brains can develop,” I was told by others.   And so we did.  We talked to her like she was a little adult, making conversations even though we didn’t expect answers.  The books I read about late-talking children, didn’t seem to really apply to our little Kate.  “She’ll talk when she’s ready,” I was told by my mom-friends.  Only they bragged that their toddlers were saying words like “elephant” and when we met at the park.  I cringed and rolled my lips into a tight line, sucking in a deep breath.  Was she stressed because there were changes going on her world?  No, that isn’t it.  I shook my head, confused and frustrated.  We provided a loving, stable environment.  So, what was it?
          As first-time parents, we didn’t want to appear “delinquent,” so when Kate was 15 months old, exactly, we headed to the doctor (the same one who delivered her) for her scheduled well-child check-up. I say “we,” because both doting parents were off work for the occasion. It was as though it were a pre-kid business meeting marked well in advance in our planners. This time we came armed with our wiggly daughter; along with thoughts, questions and toddler antics to relate to our doctor.
  After Dr. Baumgartner whirled into the exam room, plopped down and smiled at us, she asked a series of questions . . . was Kate doing this, doing that? Yes, yes, and yes, we nodded and smiled proudly. “Is she saying ‘mama’ and ‘dada’ and a few other words?” Nope. We held our breath, awaiting her response.
As a first-timer, I didn’t want to jump the gun. Kate was only 15 months old after all. She still wore diapers, took a pacifier when distressed, and was rocked to sleep. In many ways she was still a baby, and babies don’t talk, do they?  Plus, I knew kids—through my teen years as baby-sitter and as a child psych nurse.
          We told our doctor that all Kate was saying was “hi,” and that she started saying that around 13 months. Wasn’t that good enough? Our caring doctor probed a little further and eventually she referred us to a local speech-language pathologist (SLP). “You can do it now, if you want to be aggressive, or wait until she is 18 months if you want to take a conservative approach,” she instructed us. 
          We took the conservative approach, finally making the call when Kate was 18 months. The impetus was easy:  Kate still wasn’t saying “momma” and I wanted to hear my little girl call for me by name, instead of grunting. 
          I’ll admit I was totally skeptical of the capabilities of a speech-language pathologist at first. What could she possibly do to get my kid to talk that I couldn’t?  And this SLP didn’t even have kids—what was I thinking? But we stayed the course—and learned that Kate has severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  She was diagnosed at 30 months (2.6 years)
            As bright, beautiful little girl preparing for her first day of first grade this week, we are pleased to share that Kate is no longer grunting and pointing to get our attention.  Was it magic?  No.  Was it something she needed to “grow out of?”  No, again.  It was the hard work and patience of a skilled pediatric speech-language pathologist (SLP); the determination and motivation of a child, and the tenacity of her parents.  It was the environment and nurturing curriculum of a hands-on, language-based preschool.  It was a village that helped our little girl speak at a level that was developmentally appropriate. 
          If you suspect your child of having a speech disorder like Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS), it is important that you make an appointment with a qualified SLP for a thorough assessment.  CAS, though fairly rare—about 1% of the pediatric population—is a serious speech disorder that requires intense and frequent intervention to overcome.  But it can be done!  If you are looking for more information on CAS, poke around on this site, ChildTalk www.talkingkids.org for related topics, my blog can be reached at www.leslie4kids.wordpress.com  (I devote Mondays to apraxia), and also the CASANA/Apraxia-KIDS website, www.apraxia-kids.org

Hi, I’m Leslie.  I am mostly a full-time mom, former R.N. and part-time writer.  My family and I live in the Chicagoland area and do all of the things regular families do.  With one exception:  we cope with our daughter’s Childhood Apraxia of Speech on a daily basis.  When I was first learning about  Kate’s diagnosis, I was stumped: we never learned about this in nursing school!   I was on a quest to help my daughter.  In early 2012, my book, Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding & Coping with Childhood Apraxia of Speech will be available from Woodbine House.  

More Information on Apraxia of Speech

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post. I'm an SLP in private practice in Michigan and work with a lot of CAS kids & their parents. I will certainly be sharing this link with them. I look forward to your book.