Childhood Apraxia of Speech

What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?

Before our daughter was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, I used to tell people that she had a speech delay.  She wasn’t talking and at the time I didn’t know why.  Once we received her diagnosis I could now give people a name, “She has Childhood Apraxia of Speech.”  Response questions; “What’s that? Will she ever talk? I’ve never heard of it, will she grow out of it?”

Over time, I have tried my best to give textbook answers to the many questions.  I try my best to explain to people why it is difficult to understand our daughter’s speech.  Truthfully, each time I have to explain our daughter’s condition to people I wish I could say these things…

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

It’s a condition that our daughter has and it is a condition that affects our daily lives.  Sadly, there are times when we cannot understand what our daughter is saying and we all become frustrated.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

As a family we work together to overcome this condition.  Everyday, we work on improving our daughter’s language.  Whether it is in conversation, singing songs, or during at home therapy sessions, CAS is always present.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

My husband and I are fiercely protective of our daughter.  She may not be able to speak correctly, but she can understand everything that is said. She understands when people make comments and her feelings do get hurt when she is told she talks like a baby.  We do our best to avoid negative situations, but they do occur. We learn from these situations and we overcome them together.  In addition to improving our daughter’s speech, we are also teaching her to be strong and independent.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

These are the language milestones most 3 to 4 year olds should have reached.

  • Say his or her name and age
  • Speak 250 to 500 words
  • Answer simple questions
  • Speak in sentences of five to six words, and speak in complete sentences by age 4
  • Speak clearly
  • Tell stories

Our daughter has not reached some of these milestones, but she is very smart. Sometimes we translate our daughter’s speech for people and we worry when we aren’t with her.  We are fearful that she will not be understood.  As parents we do our best to teach her tools to communicate.  We tell caregivers about her condition and what certain words mean when she is saying them.  We explain that even though you cannot understand her spoken language, our daughter will do her best to communicate with you.  She has come up with her own signs and she can show you what she wants.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

CAS is time consuming.  We go to a lot of therapy.  Our daughter works with several SLPs and she also completes vision therapy because her apraxia affects her eye movement. We do therapy at home and at night I lay awake thinking of new ways to engage my daughter in language development activities.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

This condition is apart of my daughter’s life she will not grow out of it.  Currently, our daughter has an IEP and she most likely will have one in the future.  As her parents it is our goal to teach our little girl to love learning and school and even though she may face challenges we will be there to support her.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

CAS causes me to lay in bed at night and worry.  Worry if I am doing enough. Worry about my daughter’s feelings and thoughts.  Worry about the future.  I try to stay very positive, but first and foremost I am a mom and I am going to worry.

“What is Childhood Apraxia of Speech?”

Is a condition our daughter has, but it does not define who our daughter is.  Yes, it is apart of our lives, but as a CAS family we have to do things differently than others.  Yes, I have my blog and I share my daughter’s story, but it is my hope to educate people about CAS. Awareness and excellent therapy treatment for our daughter is our number one concern.

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Our Daily Activities

My little girl’s therapy schedule keeps us very busy. Some days we see two therapists, one therapist for speech and another for vision.  We wake up early, get in the car and go. In between therapy we have preschool, gymnastics and family time. We also squeeze in therapy practice at home. For a 3 year old, our little one is very, very busy and is required to meet many demands.

We have been active in therapy for over a year now and we keep adding more therapy to our schedule. Sometimes we are so busy the only time I have to think is in the car when I am chauffeuring my little one throughout York and Lancaster counties. It’s was during one of these trips that I had an “ah ha” moment. 

As we talked in the car, I looked in the rearview at my little girl and I realized how strong she is for a three year old. She never complains. She has never had a fit of bad behavior for any of her therapists. She completes her therapy without complaint.

I’m am truly amazed by my sweet little girl. She is so smart, strong and hardworking. There are many days when I am worn out by our daily schedule, but she keeps going.

Our road of therapy may be long and ongoing, but I will forever be amazed and proud of our hardworking little one. 

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The Beginning of Our Journey

Our story begins January 2011.  After returning to school to pursue my teaching certification in Elementary Education, I was finally student teaching. I was so excited to begin this new experience and I wanted to prove myself as an effective teacher.  A few weeks into the semester my student teaching experience grew a bit more challenging, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child.

My husband and I were thrilled, but now I had a full plate and at the time I thought this would be one of the most challenging times in my life.  My pregnancy was textbook.  Intense morning sickness during the first trimester, yummy cravings throughout the second, and anxiously waiting for the arrival of our baby during the third.  On September 14, 2011 our beautiful baby girl was born.

Since she was born at the beginning of the school year, I decided to stay home with our daughter for her first year.  She was a happy and healthy baby, but she had trouble latching when I tried to nurse.  I decided to bottle feed.  She was thriving and in those early days she was hitting each milestone and her inability to latch during nursing became an after thought.

As she grew, I would hear many wonderful compliments about our beautiful little girl.  One compliment I would often hear was, “You are so lucky to have such a calm, quiet baby.”  The word quiet was often used to describe my daughter.  She did not baby babble, instead she would make noises.  When she began to say words she did not say them often.  She would use many gestures to communicate and by age one her vocabulary consisted of three words. Mom, Dad, dog (pronounced du).  All animals were dogs, women were mom and men were dad.  My husband and I did not worry too much because we realized every child was different and in time she would develop more vocabulary.

My daughter was one year old when I decide to return to work.  As the school year progressed my daughter learned a few more words, NeNe (a name she called her grandmother) and Nanny (a name she used to call my sister).  My mother began to comment about my daughter’s limited word use.  I also noticed that children the same age as my daughter were attempting to sing Christmas carols and my little girl would just dance to the music.

By the end of the school year my daughter’s language had not improved and she demonstrated other odd behaviors.  She would chipmunk cheek all of her food and scream every time we attempted to brush her teeth.  We were very concerned and  I decided to stop working again and figure out why our little girl was not speaking.

We contacted Early Intervention and two individuals came to our home to assess our daughter.  After evaluating our daughter, Early Intervention determined that she was not eligible for services because cognitively she was on level for her age.  Early Intervention could not give my husband and I an answer for why our daughter was not talking.  We were told, “some children are late talkers.”

Frustrated, my husband and I decided to contact a SLP.  This was the best decision we could have done for our daughter. Our daughter was 2.5 years old when her SLP diagnosed her with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  I had never heard of this condition, but I was relieved to have a name, an answer and so began our new journey with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

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