“Speech was one of the best things we ever did.” That’s what parents told me last fall when I asked about their experiences in the waiting room at Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center in North Liberty.
At the time, I was completely new to the world of speech therapy.
I knew there was something not right with my son’s speech development, and despite everyone — including doctors — urging me to wait and see, I finally followed my gut instinct.
I was so relieved I’d brought my two-year-old son to the practice for an evaluation. Sarah, our Speech-Language Pathologist, immediately suspected he had childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). I’d never heard of it and didn’t immediately understand it.
One of the most severe childhood speech and communication disorders, CAS is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. The disorder makes it challenging or impossible for a child to plan the movements of the lips, tongue, jaw, etc., to produce sounds and words. Kids with CAS can say words spontaneously; but if they have to think about it, they can’t. Because of the apraxia, my son’s understanding of language is as expected — and he knows what he wants to say — he just can’t get his brain and mouth to work together. It’s heartbreaking.
The good thing? We didn’t wait and see for long — we caught it early.
Childhood apraxia of speech is not common and is very frequently misdiagnosed. Parents spend years, money, and a lot of angst trying to figure out what’s affecting their kids’ development. They see pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists, developmental pediatricians, etc. We were lucky; Sarah was astute enough to know the signs of CAS.
The treatment for CAS is intensive speech therapy. My son won’t catch up, or magically start speaking one day. We will be working for years to create those pathways in his brain, but we will get there.
Here’s the key takeaway: It doesn’t matter whether it’s CAS or another language development concern. Listen to your gut, not the advice you get from everyone around you to wait it out. If there’s any question in your mind about your child’s speech development, go see a Speech-Language Pathologist for a free screening. ASAP. You don’t need a referral from your pediatrician, and experts will tell you that early intervention is critically important. It can’t hurt and could make the world of difference to your child’s development.
May is Apraxia Awareness Month. You can learn more about childhood apraxia of speech at www.apraxia-kids.org.
A resident of the Swisher area, Margaret is mom to a nearly-three-year-old boy and an advocate for raising awareness of childhood apraxia of speech. She’s an independent strategic communications consultant and is the founder and principal of Cedar Integrated Communications.
Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center has locations in the Iowa City, IA area and Des Moines, IA area. We provide individual speech-language therapy and tutoring as well as offering small group academic programs. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center our passion is to help kids achieve effective communication skills and gain academic success. Contact us for more information on how we can help your child succeed.
740 Community Drive, Unit A
North Liberty, IA 52317
5530 West Pkwy, Suite 300
Johnston, IA 50131