They're Not Dumb, They Just Don't Talk Well

I'm going to let you in on a little secret, the child diagnosed with Apraxia is aware. Perhaps more aware than others. When you can't talk, you have more time on your hands to analyze and size up those and things around you.

Scary, right? But it's true.

I was quickly aware, at the latest 2nd grade, that speech therapists utilized board games and toys to hide the fact that we were doing speaking drills, I was aware that Special Ed was for the slow people, I was aware that others were far smarter than me.  I even knew in Kindergarten that I rode in the short yellow bus with my smaller class because the large bus was for 'normal' kids.

I suppose when you have very little to say, you have more time to look at what's around you.

For example, I vaguely recall my first consultation at CSUN, California State University Northridge, where I would attend speech therapy for many years to come. Even before I knew the word 'Apraxia,' even before I knew the fact that people didn't understand me, even before I knew I couldn't speak - I  was aware that this older lady was watching me and analyzing me. For what? I had no idea, but I was conscientious of her watching me play, talking to me, then writing down notes.

I actually recall going into this office-type room, with glass windows. This older lady with glasses at her desk and a clipboard with paper in hand. She invited me to play with the toys stacked against a wooden case against this pale white wall. I recall her talking to me and I recall picking up a chunky toy car on the ground and a doll.

I later recall my parents entering the room and talking to this older lady. I don't know the exact words, but I was aware that she said my name in each sentence and was discussing how and what I played with.

From that moment on, I attended CSUN and saw this lady for years during speech therapy. I knew this meeting was my initial visit and she took notes about me. I knew I was being tested.

Granted I knew all this, yet I couldn't even say my name correctly. I'm sure the adults thought I only saw toys, that I only saw this as a play date-but that's what they would see. They couldn't empathize with me, as I couldn't empathize with them.

The point is, your child diagnosed with Apraxia-they are aware. They may not even be able to communicate, but they are aware that you don't understand. They are aware that they are different, whether or not you tell them why. They are aware that their other classmates don't need to take speech therapy.

If I were to tell Apraxia parents one thing? Don't assume your child diagnosed is unaware, that they don't know what's going on. Because they do know and they are aware; in more ways then you could possibly imagine. And perhaps even more aware than a child who is not diagnosed.