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Oral Apraxia and Why I Should Have Gone to School for Speech Therapy Instead of Psychology….

I keep telling myself I’m going to blog more and then I never do. But I like keeping track of what’s going on in my life and with my family. This summer has been really busy but great. I kept Holds out of school for the summer because 1) We had a few vacations planned and I didn’t want to waste money 2) I wanted to see if I could have him full time and survive and 3) I really wanted him to have fun with his brother and play a lot this summer. He works hard and deserves a break.

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How has it been? Weeeell, it’s been good overall. We took a big family (Hawkins) vacation to Destin, Florida in June and then Bear Lake camping with the Warrens in July. I signed up Holds for swimming for 2 weeks at a salt-water pool in Lehi, we go a lot of fun places (park, bounce house, art festival, museum, etc), we do play dates, and I have a fabulous babysitter that comes once a week so I can work – and she’s just perfect with my kids. Plus we’ve been doing a social skills group this summer and visiting the grandparents a lot. 

As far as therapy goes, I hired a Speech Language Pathologist from Children’s SLC after meeting with the folks at the  the Carmen B Pingree School of Autism. I put Holds on the list a year ago and they called at the beginning of summer and said they had a publicly funded slot for him. Publicly funded = FREE. I was really excited and we went to the meeting with high hopes that it would be perfect for Holds. But after 3 hours of interviews, we realized on both sides that he didn’t quite fit there. He’s high functioning and doesn’t stim, sits well at class, can manage his sensory issues, etc so he doesn’t really need that place. But they recommended an awesome SLP therapist that used to work there, so I hired her and she’s been amazing. She comes to my house and has been such a vital part of our lives now.

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It was fortuitous she was helping Holden because I’ve been really nervous about Fitz. He didn’t walk or talk by 18 months. Once I finally got the doctor and ENT to give him tubes in his ears, he started walking a week later (!!!) but still hasn’t talked. So after a few sessions with my SLP working with Holds I asked if she could spend some time with Fitz.

Here’s the skinny of Fitz – he communicates SUPER well but doesn’t say a word. I mean he babbles, but doesn’t really say words. So my SLP said “he has language, but not speech, which is the exact opposite of Holden who has speech but struggles with language.” After working with Fitz for a few weeks, she has diagnosed him with Oral Apraxia

What is oral/verbal apraxia? I wondered this for 2 weeks while my SLC was on vacation and apparently it’s a problem with the motor of the mouth not being able to make the right and very complicated movements that it takes to speak. It’s not an intelligence thing, but it is something that takes a lot of work to help practice that speech muscles. Here’s another link I read. Originally we started out trying to demand that he say “baba” for his milk and we’d withhold it thinking he would do it. Wes and I thought it was a laziness issue. And apparently this tactic works for a lot of speech delayed kids – they have to be required to talk, rather than we (or siblings) assume their wants.

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But with Fitz, he would never give in, he would just sob. Our SLP realized quickly that it’s not a desire thing with him – he has the desire to communicate, but it’s like he just can’t. I’m glad she caught it this early because it would have been impossible for me to figure this out on my own. Most kids don’t get diagnosed with Apraxia until they’re 2 or 3. So now we do a lot of speech work with him but it’s more play-based and less a force of wills. 

The funny thing about all this is that I just never expected to have this problem with him. I figured the changes of Autism were pretty high because if you have one boy with it, your chances are like 40% higher you’ll have another boy with it. But he’s not on the spectrum at all. He’s incredibly social, very engaging, and definitely not developmentally delayed. He’s like the polar opposite of Holds.

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Holds is trepidatious – Fitz is afraid of nothing

Holds likes to be clean – Fitz loves to be dirty

Holds loves to speak but often says things that don’t make any sense – Fitz makes sense but doesn’t use words

Holds hates loud noises – Fitz loves driving him nutz by yelling

And they look nothing alike.

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However, they are both sensory seekers. I have two very busy, very determined, very independent boys who have kept me more than a little busy this summer. 

 

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5 thoughts on “Oral Apraxia and Why I Should Have Gone to School for Speech Therapy Instead of Psychology….

  1. And lost in all of this is the fact that I’m married to the most capable, involved, determined, caring, and beautiful woman ever. I’m convinced that if I’m married to anyone else, I’d have two severely impaired and stunted kids who eat Cheetos all day and are impossible to control.

  2. Loved your descriptions of the boys. Fitz is pretty much the sunshine boy. Hoping for speech soon. Love ya.

  3. Two wonderful giant spirits who have the perfect mother and father to help them have a great life and accomplish their missions here on earth. Such beautiful, sweet little guys! Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  4. Great post. I am a speech and language pathologist. I am very passionate about all kids being successful. I have created a free resource for families to promote speech, language and learning. It is called Little Talkers and you can view it at http://www.littletalkers.com. You can see developmental milestones (to make sure your child is on track) and watch free videos (like: what to do if you have a concern, the best ways to model language, tricks to help kids produce speech sounds- maybe check out the p, b,m video for your little one). I hope you find them helpful. Please continue to share your wisdom with others.

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