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SLP Mommy of Apraxia: Oral apraxia

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oral apraxia

Looking back, there were SO many signs that told me Ashlynn had apraxia. Before she even spoke, there were things she couldn't do that I knew wasn't normal. However, my family, my husband's family, and even my husband told me she would do it on her own time, or all kids develop differently, or to stop being so critical of her. Despite my training and perhaps wanting to believe them, I ignored these signs even though deep down I knew something was wrong.

What were these early signs?

For one, Ashlynn never blew raspberries. To this day, and she is almost three, she still can't.
Ashlynn couldn't blow out candles or blow bubbles, and to this day, she still can't.
It took until she was almost two to learn how to drink from a straw, and even now she frequently sputters and chokes when drinking.

Well meaning family members told me I was being too picky about these things, but my mommy instincts were right.

Other signs were feeding issues. For the most part, Ashlynn was a great nurser. However, poor nursing can be an early sign. She also did really well when I introduced puréed solids. After that, her feeding issues became more complex. She struggled with masticating or chewing her food and then swallowing it. This oral motor sequence was very difficult for her to learn.  I was scared to death to even give her Cheerios when she was 9 months to a year because she would immediately swallow them.

When family members or friends would offer crackers or other food items, I would panic. However, I was told by everyone, including my husband that I was babying her. How would she ever learn if I didn't let her eat it? I was so frustrated thinking I was being paranoid and being a helicopter parent already, but guess what? I KNEW my baby better than anyone, and if I just would have listened to and trusted myself, she might have got help sooner.

Other signs of oral apraxia which she has include: not being able to lick her lips, not being able to spit out food, stuffing or overfilling her mouth, and not being able to pucker her lips for a kiss :(

What really makes me mad, is my college training didn't train me in this. These are things I have learned just on my own. Of course one could argue that graduate school teaches us how and where to find these answers, and of course our ongoing professional development requirements provide opportunities to learn this, but its not enough. Every SLP needs to know this stuff!

I had a professor, Patty Walton, for my undergrad and grad degree here in Denver who taught a stuttering class. It was the only class she taught because she had a full time private practice with a focus on stuttering. She said that what she realized, is SLPs were graduating without any knowledge on how to treat stuttering. She might have been an expert, but she at least wanted SLPs to have a basic knowledge in the treatment of the disorder. In fact, she had met many a therapist who admitted they didn't feel comfortable treating stuttering.
She and other stuttering experts have definitely done a great job of educating newer therapists, because most therapists I meet who are around my age or younger feel very comfortable treating stuttering.

In my opinion, apraxia is the new stuttering. In my speech department for my school district, no one is trained in PROMPT that I know of, and when people have a child who they suspect have apraxia, they borrow the set of Kaufman cards or the Easy Does it For Apraxia book out from the department.  I have faxed multiple clinicians the information I had on apraxia from the professional development I attended when Ruth Stoeckel was here because they didn't have any information on apraxia at all!!  My field needs to address this! I don't know where my road will take me, but I want to make sure we have SLPs graduating with a clear understanding of motor speech disorders and treatment. 

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At October 11, 2012 at 7:50 AM , Blogger kviolet said...

No one knows their children like their own mother.


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