After a day of playing outside, it’s getting dark, and I listen to my son and his friend in the backseat of the car as we drive home. Both boys are recovering from childhood apraxia of speech.
They are in the first grade and are busy strategizing about how they can best escape from Ashley, Teagan, Elizabeth, and Makayla who chase them around on the playground every day at recess.
“We’ll hide under the playground equipment and get Reed and Keith to stand guard so they can’t get us,” said Jake.
“Yeah, then we’ll sneak out the back and run around and scare them,” Jordan added.
More plans, giggles, and high-fives follow, excitement building to put their covert operation into action on Monday.
These boys … I thought to myself as I listened to each word flow effortlessly out of their mouths. Although there was a smile on my face, there were tears in my eyes. After all, this moment of candid conversation between two friends is a dream come true for a parent who has a child with apraxia.
Ever since Jake and Jordan wound up in the same kindergarten class last year, I knew instantly what a rarity it was. This neurological motor speech disorder affects 1-2 children per 1,000 and they go to a Christian school with 320 students and class sizes of 15-20.
When a child has apraxia, their brain knows what to say, but the mouth, tongue, and jaw do not cooperate. Frequent, intense therapy is required in order to strengthen the brain pathways necessary for speech to occur.
In August of 2014, I met Jordan’s mom the first week of kindergarten after a friend of mine chatted with her at a get-together for new parents and she shared that her son had apraxia.
Jake and Jordan’s friendship also took off.
When they were kindergarten newbies, I wondered if they would click. Yes, they had this crazy thing called apraxia in common, which they didn’t even fully know the extent of, but would they have any other similarities?
I love this school work that came home in Jake’s folder around Valentine’s Day this year …
Today, on the fourth Apraxia Awareness Day, I spotlight these two apraxia warriors. Not only for everything they have been through, but for everything they have become, and for all the great things I know they will accomplish in the future. Gooo Jake and Jordan!
These two boys …
Are little baseball sluggers, stride together when they race at P.E., gab about Georgia Bulldog football, love to decompress in the classroom with a fierce game of checkers, and like to hang out with their furry, blond golden doodles.
These two boys …
Say please, thank you, and ask how your day is going. They are compassionate and empathetic towards others and would never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings. They have big smiles and even bigger hearts.
These two boys …
Battled for every single word they speak and sat in speech therapy day after day, week after week, year after year. They have both worked very hard to be where they’re at today.
These boys’ mamas …
Have cried buckets of tears, worried about their boys’ future, shuttled them to countless speech therapy sessions, and advocated for them time and time again.
The blessing of these sweet friendships were a rainbow after our storm.
Childhood apraxia of speech affects 1-2 per 1,000 children. Sometimes apraxia is the only disorder a child has, but other times it presents itself with autism, downs syndrome, sensory processing disorder, and a host of others. Progress varies from child to child.
Apraxia is typically diagnosed around the age of three and symptoms include: quiet baby who does not babble, first words are late and limited, can understand what is being said much better than he/she can talk, and inconsistent speech errors. If you suspect your child has apraxia, contact a speech-language pathologist for an assessment. Early intervention is key; both Jake and Jordan started speech therapy when they were two years old.
For more information, visit The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) at www.apraxia-kids.org.