by Amber, Contributing Writer
What a journey it has been.
In January of 2012 when Cason was 17 months old, we were referred to a developmental pediatrician and a speech therapist at the Naval Hospital for evaluations. At that age, Cason had no words, wasn’t babbling, waving, pointing, or mimicking. He also had major eating issues in that he couldn’t move on from stage 2 foods. I kept telling doctors that it was like he didn’t know what to do with his tongue.
After meeting with the developmental pediatrician, speech therapist, and having a swallow study done, the word apraxia was brought up. I had never heard of Childhood Apraxia of Speech. At 17 months old, it was just suggested that Cason may have CAS and an official diagnosis didn’t come until 23 months old. However, at 17 months old it was diagnosed that he had oral apraxia (different from verbal apraxia).
The speech and OT sessions began right away. We started with two days a week of private speech therapy, one hour a week of early intervention speech, and one hour a week of occupational therapy for feeding (and later for low tone and sensory processing disorder).
After six months, Cason increased to three days a week of private speech therapy, two days a week of early intervention speech therapy, and one hour of OT. He was getting speech five days a week. We were also working with him at home. I spent hours and hours reading and researching online. That eventually led me to Nancy Kaufman.
I went to Nancy’s seminar in October 2012. I was one of three parents there along with 150 SLPs. I had lunch with her and discussed Cason. She watched a video of Cason on my phone and said she felt he was a perfect candidate for her method of apraxia therapy. A month later, we were in Michigan for a four-day intensive with Nancy.
Cason went on to receive the same amount of therapy (using the Kaufman method) until he was 3.5 years. At that point, the therapy provided by the school district stopped, and he just continued with private speech therapy three days a week.
In November 2014, we stopped all therapies in order to prepare for a cross-country move. I knew this would be a good test to see if Cason regressed without therapy. He was to the point where his errors were age appropriate. His only issue was maintaining all the sounds when making longer sentences and dropping words in longer sentences. But everyone could understand him. New people, that had no idea of all the speech therapy, knew what he was saying without issue.
Cason didn’t receive speech therapy from the first of November 2014 to mid-January 2015. At that point, we took him for an evaluation. The results confirmed what I was already thinking. Cason’s errors were all age appropriate. He no longer needed speech!
We compared his evaluation scores with some he had received in July 2014. He went from scoring in the low end of “within normal age limits” to the high end of “within normal age limits.” He made great gains in six months, and two of those months being without any therapy. His results on the Kaufman Praxis test showed no signs of apraxia.
The therapists and I went over the results briefly after the evaluation and discussed the possibility of no longer continuing speech. I left the office with a lot to think about. At first, I thought it would be best to keep him in speech. After all, he still had some errors and was dropping words. But the more I thought about it and thought back to my years of teaching Pre-K, his errors were in fact age appropriate.
I think I wanted him to stay in speech because it was all I knew for him for so long. The thought of just ending it was a little scary. But the more I thought about it, the more comfortable I became with the idea. And then I became excited. We had done it. Cason had done it!! Three years of very hard work, determination, persistence, and intensive therapy had paid off. Cason was ready to graduate from speech therapy.
I went to Cason’s speech appointment last Thursday and the therapist and I were on the same page. After going over all of the evaluations again, talking in length about the types of errors he makes, looking at charts, and talking about the future, we decided to end Cason’s career (as I lovingly call it) of speech therapy.
He’s done. It feels so good to say that. I’m not unmindful to the fact that there are still a few issues or that things may still come up in the future (like with reading). But where he is right now – at 4.5 years old – I’m okay with that. I’ve waited so long for this day…and that day is finally here.
Bio: Amber lives in South Carolina with her husband and four children. She has two sons diagnosed with apraxia of speech and sensory processing disorder. Her older son also has hypotonia. She is a stay at home, homeschooling mom who taught public school for eight years. In her free time, she likes to read and sew.