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The Word "Special" Doesn't Cut It

Graduation day at Emory University and my graduation cap referenced a childhood story that my mom would tell me every night when I was a kid, "Once upon a time, there was a beautiful little girl named Alyson Samantha Taylor..." The story would lead into a life lesson I learned that day, usually in reference to being smart, kind, or understanding.

Stories such as these reminded me that I was a special child. I was a special person and I could do great things if I worked hard and was kind. Special in this case referring to something positive; alluding to the beauty of my uniqueness and the fact that there's no other Alyson Samantha Taylor like me in the universe.

There's a beauty in being and FEELING special, until of course the connotation of "special" changes.

When I hear the word "special," I'm torn. I quickly recall the Alyson Samantha Taylor stories, but I just as quickly recall being classified as "Special Needs." No matter how m…
Recent posts

LA's Walk To Talk

My printed speech was in hand along with 150 business cards tucked in my small red purse. I had spoken earlier this past month at an Inland Empire Walk for Apraxia and, frankly, it wasn't my best work. I had stayed up late the night before arguing with a guy I had really liked and expected to perform the next day while emotionally exhausted. Thus, the last speech I gave wasn't terrible, it just wasn't the best I could do.

This time though-I knew I had to speak better. I had spent a week at least organizing my speech, timing myself, and emphasizing a message that I wanted people to walk away with. This walk was getting some celebrity attention between Gage Golightly and Ronda Rousey, and I could lie to you guys and say that I thought nothing of it. But I pride myself on honesty; the first time I heard the news that I was speaking with Ronda Rousey - I was on the phone with friends for 3 hours on my birthday night completely freaked out. 
Why do I need to speak if someone lik…

24 Years and 24 Pieces of Advice

Today is my 24th Birthday! I am one of those people that gets SUPER into my birthday; it doesn't matter how much older I seem to get-celebrating a birthday is a whole month ordeal. You could only imagine how annoying it is. But in honor of my 24th birthday, I wanted to provide 24 Pieces of Advice for your Apraxia Journeys, for both parents and children alike:

1. Enjoy the non-Apraxia moments

2. Apraxia is a diagnosis, it is not the only characteristic of a child

3. Speech therapy is a pain to drive to and to pay for, but for your child it's their biggest homework assignment and biggest task going on in their young life

4. The best of friends are those that don't see Apraxia

5. Family: You may not be able to pick them, but you can teach them (or at least try to open their eyes)

6. Bullies will always exist

7. Apraxia allows you to find the good eggs and the bad eggs

8. The greatest revenge against the doubters is being successful and working twice as hard, despite the setba…

Kindergarten & Apraxia- It's The Best of Times and The Worst of Times

Apraxia and Kindergarten- where do I possibly begin? Well, given that this was like 19 years ago, I can shed some light as to what I know and recall.

According to the past reports, my kindergarten day was split 80% 'Special-Education' and 20% 'Typical Classroom.' At the time I had no idea that my day was split like this, to be frank I could never tell a difference between 'special' and 'typical.' For the most part, I only noticed that my class sizes would change between subjects. So in the subjects I struggled with, such as speaking and physical education, I'd be in a smaller class with 3-5 students. For other subjects I was alright with, mainly Reading, Coloring, Recess and Lunch, I would be with a larger group of kids.

My delays were described as the following:

Inteligibility: 10%-20%Physical Coordination: Less than 20%. I was clumsy; whenever I jumped I'd flail my arms above. When I'd walk or run, I would not alternate Arm and Leg, so it w…

When is Enough, Enough?

To get back in the swing of writing, what better way then to answer direct questions from readers?

I got the following request from Marne:

I have a conundrum with my 12 year old maybe you could give insight into. My guys apraxia affect his fine motor skills badly. He has the writing of a kindergarten/ first grader. I've gotten tech in place and accommodations in place so it doesn't affect school but he still gets OT for handwriting. I don't want to give up on hand writing and I don't want to make him continue therapy that is pointless. I'm afraid that he will want to quit just because it's too hard. When did YOU know it was time to stop an intervention? Did YOU ever reach a point where you said 'enough, this is what it is and I'm ok with that'?

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Being 12 is hard. Just by itself, it's a hard and annoying age. No one I personally know says, "If I can go back in…

Communication Is A Two-Way Street

I dream of a day that other's take the time to understand Apraxia. While kids diagnosed fight to be understood by others. They take their time, energy, and effort into being understood-other's get the luxury of dismissing this opportunity to understand Apraxia and someone different than themselves. They don't need to take time out of their day to understand Apraxia nor to understand the person talking.

They have the luxury of ignorance.

Rather than asking, "Why" or asking, "What is this speech disorder?"

These 'others' have the luxury of simply stating, "They speak like a baby" and calling it a day. Or even labeling children as "dumb" and moving on.

I thought as a kid, that I had to fight to find my words so everyone can understand me.

To an extent I did; through speech therapy and practice, I, like most Apraxia children, work to be understood. That's what we are taught: practice your pronunciation so others can understan…

Somethings Can Never Be Resolved

"Why does everyone have a good voice, and I get stuck with this one..."
This question, running through my brain in Elementary School, Middle School, speech therapy sessions, and even today seeing other kids my age with "resolved Apraxia." Worst of all this question of, "Why do I have my accent?" never has a completely adequate answer.
Even as a kid, it was something along the lines of, "God gives us all gifts and things we need to work on." 
So, my voice isn't a gift? It's something I still need to work on? My voice is a curse-I'd think to myself.
I was a cute kid, pretty long hair, and I wasn't the most intelligent but I worked hard-then I'd open my mouth and be damned with chuckles, bullies, and rejected crushes.
I hated my voice. I wished sometimes that I was mute. But I loved talking and singing too much, and yelling. I couldn't be mute, I was stuck with my damning voice. 
I got older, having to admit that perhaps I&…