Day #1: Share Your Story

In honor of Apraxia Awareness Month, I am here to share my story. Because, well, that's what the social media calendar says, today is "Share Your Story Day."

Now for those of you who have followed my blog for a while know a lot about my story, so I'll try to be brief.

First of all-Apraxia of Speech is a neurological disorder that prevents children from exercising correct motor function/control to produce intelligible sounds. Basically, the brain knows what it WANTS to say, but it doesn't have the ability to tell the mouth how to move to say it.

It's a constant "cats got your tongue" in a very, oversimplified sense.

I was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech when I was 3 years old. Now, this diagnosis was HARD. You have to understand that there was no Wikipedia, no Apraxia Kids, no Facebook, no hashtags, and-frankly-no medical professional recognized it as a legitimate diagnosis. This was back in the Nineties, but thankfully progress was slowly being made.

My parents, like any good parent would, found the best resources they could. They discovered Cal State Northridge that had the leading speech pathology program and when I had a consultation with them, they strongly affirmed that 'they believe it's Apraxia' and can treat me through intensive speech therapy.

The caveat? They had never treated nor worked with a child with Apraxia of Speech, so not only would they be working with me but also they'd be studying me. I was their Patient #1 Case Study for Childhood Apraxia and would be for the next 13 years.

I would ultimately say my name for the first time at 7 years old and from thereafter I would never be quiet. Kindergarten I began in 90% Special Education and 10% Typical Classroom settings and overtime this would adjust; however, I was largely unintelligible for the majority of my early education.

Which, in hindsight, baffles me. I thought I was communicating perfectly fine-but hundreds of report cards, IEP's, and speech therapy reports say otherwise. Whoops?

Elementary and Middle School was marked with slowly transitioning out of these Special Needs Programs and less and less speech therapy. However, it was also marked with what I'd consider the more challenging times in the Apraxia Journey. Why? Well, bullies for one were at an all time high. Also, I had my fair share of crushes that not only rejected me because they weren't interested but also because I spoke funny or "they couldn't date a retard." And, more importantly, there was an impossibility to be any more than the "Girl With The Funny Accent." Every time you answered a question in class, your classmates chuckled and remarked on the accent. Every time you talked to someone new to make a friend, they commented on the accent. The accent was who I was.

Which, that's not who I wanted to be.

Thankfully though, Elementary and Middle School were marked with finding my best friends in Girl Scouts especially, even Cheerleading, and my best friend Nicole, who was my friend before I was verbal. Also fantastic teachers (who I'll write about later). There were highlights on this journey I promise you, it's the fact that I could find the real friends and the real relationships. If they could be friends with the 'special' girl, their hearts were in the right place.

Now this is a happily ever after story, I promise you.

Come high school, I came into my own and for the life of me I can't explain why. All I can say was my passion to be something more than the Girl With The Funny Accent fueled me; it was a major underdog complex I know. But, regardless, in High School I became a 4.0 Honors Student, a Varsity Swimmer and Water Polo Player, Girl Scout Gold Award Recipient and in the end of all of my High School Days-I had a fantastic college application essay.

Every college application essay was my Apraxia Journey. Fun fact, right? And I somehow was fortunate to attend Emory University earning my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish. Even with Apraxia and this 'funny accent,' I had successfully studied and aced Spanish for 8 straight years. Now I work at Warner Brothers Legal Dept. and attending UCLA for my Paralegal Certificate.

Granted I now realize this was not a brief post, but I did just summarize 24 years of life onto one blog post. In my Apraxia Journey, my relationships with friends and family as well as my commitment to work hard were the most vital to get me where I am today.

At a completed Apraxia Journey, even though I am constantly asked if I have an accent 5-10 times a week.