Not A Common Condition
Meet Kara. She is 3.5 years old, loves Toy Story & has the most beautiful blue eyes you've ever seen.
She also has apraxia of speech alongside Down syndrome.
Apraxia of speech is a motor planning disorder where the brain & mouth have trouble communicating. Kara knows what she wants to say, but her mouth can't remember how to produce the necessary sounds.
This is not a common condition, though it is more prevalent in those with genetic disorders.
Hard to Diagnose
I say that Kara has apraxia of speech, but the truth is, she has suspected apraxia of speech. It is very difficult to obtain an official diagnosis at a young age because of a lack of words. However, there isn't a doctor or therapist on her team that disagrees.
Signs and Symptoms
We've noticed many signs & symptoms of apraxia of speech with Kara. For example:
-She has trouble stringing sounds together. She can say "mm" & "oo", but she can't say "moo". She can say "puh" & "ah", but she can't say "pop".
-She has shown regression. At one year old, she saying "dada" very clearly until she suddenly couldn't anymore. This word didn't come back until recently.
-It is hard for her to change pitch in her voice. Her sounds are usually very monotone.
-Another sign is that she has trouble stopping once she gets going. So instead of saying "mama", a lot of times she'll call me "mamamama".
-Lastly, she has trouble synchronizing her breath to develop louder noises. Most of the time, she says things at almost a whisper.
Practice Makes Perfect
I have learned that the biggest part of overcoming apraxia is REPETITION. We have to teach her brain & oral muscles to work together so we practice the same words, phrases & sounds repeatedly throughout each day until they are mastered.
She works very hard to reach her milestones & it is very inspiring!
In addition, we are eternally thankful for her therapists. A great SLP (speech-language pathologist) will provide the best possible treatment for that child no matter the diagnosis. Kara gets exactly what she needs even though she doesn't have an official apraxia diagnosis.
Not to be Feared
Hearing that your child is struggling with apraxia of speech is scary. It was hard to locate resources or other families that would understand our situation. It turns out, that although apraxia of speech is a condition that should be taken seriously, it is rather misunderstood.
Kara does a great job of communicating. The key was giving her multiple avenues to communicate through like sign language, visual cues, pictures, etc. With lots of hard work & support, I have every confidence that she'll be carrying around a hefty vocabulary someday. In the meantime, we will rejoice in every little achievement!