What Children With Apraxia Want You to Know

You all have been incredibly busy on your Apraxia Journeys!

Social media and Apraxia Journey updates are buzzing as the summer closes and back to school season begin.

I had several ideas all at once and I was excited to share ALL of them! I'm hoping at least 1 of them is relatable for you and your child. Perhaps some of them can be longer blog posts in the future!

So, here we go, Things Children With Apraxia Want You To Know:

1. We do not want to be our disorder. 
There is absolutely nothing worse than being known for the way you speak, or the fact you speak 'funny' or 'differently.' We definitely appreciate being called according to our awesome names and a hobby or interest of ours.

Imagine, would you like to be known as "Mary with a Toe Thumb?" Well, the last thing any child wants is to be known as "Susie with Apraxia."

Personally speaking, where do you think the title of "Girl With A Funny Accent" came from? Yes, that was my spoken identity and qualifier in Elementary and Middle School, or at least it sure felt like it. Fortunately it makes a fantastic blog title, but didn't sound so fantastic back then!

2. We want to be like and be treated like everyone else. 
The reason why we get irritated when parents disclose our speech disorder to our teachers, and perhaps throw a fit yelling, "Don't tell them!"-we feel that we are immediately treated and looked at differently.

Perhaps youth doesn't make us completely oblivious, but we do easily tell how a teacher talks to a unique-needs students than the A+ geek. Also, how they treat them too. We'd love to be treated like the A+ geek, but sadly the label of "Speech Disorder" changes our identity and can sometimes alter how others treat us.

Sadly, even as an adult when I mention my old speech disorder, some respond my talking louder or slower to me, and even remarking, "Do you understand everything now?" *Face Palm*

3. We are terrified of bullies, old and new, in our classes.
First day of anything-especially school- there is an immediate fear of "I really hope I don't encounter any new or old bullies, please, please, please."

For older children with Apraxia, we know the way we speak can make us a target, even though we are convinced our speech is the best we can produce. We also know that there may be bullies, old and new, that we may have to face.

For younger children with Apraxia, we thankfully have our naive youth to help. We can't fathom bullies and being mean isn't in our dictionary. However, there's going to be that 1 day, with that 1 bully, that will introduce that word "bully" and from that day on we will be just a little more prepared to take on such dreaded characters.

4. We know we need to make friends to make it through the day.
To counteract our fears-perhaps with bullies-we desire friends just like any other child! Friends, play dates, and buddies make a whole day seem just a little easier.

Math class is a little better when you're staring at your friend making funny faces. For adults reading this, your day is just a little easier when you grab coffee with a coworker or walk around the block with a neighbor.

Kids with Apraxia want and need friends despite our inability to correctly communicate.

5. Grades are not as important to us as doing our best. 
As much as we want Straight-A's, we know that at the end of the day we just want to do our best work and show everyone just how intelligent we are.

6. Anxiety is real, perhaps worse than other students our age
We grew up perhaps with constant corrections: "Pull your tongue back," "Push it forward," "Remember to keep your tongue pressed against your teeth," "Smile and pucker," "Do your speech exercises," and so on and so forth.

Look, I get it it's tag-teaming between a speech therapist, an aide, parents, and family members - it needs to be done for communication purposes and practice. I get it, it's to help the child.

The counter of this though is when you grow up being constantly corrected, you quickly learn to doubt yourself right? You're afraid of saying the wrong thing, saying it the wrong way, or doing the wrong thing.

This sort of doubt can transform into anxiety and impact various areas of one's life-socially, academically, and physically.

It's almost as if you need to balance this with confidence-boosting activities. If you're constantly 'correcting' instead of 'promoting,' any one will naturally be anxious and doubt themselves and their abilities.

7. We may be quiet, but we notice everything. 
If you're a parent reading this, I am sure you can attest to this with your own children.

The level of noticing every little detail though never truly leaves-it's a skill that will last a lifetime!

8. Apraxia is only as big of an issue as we make it. 
I know this is cliche and for those in the beginning of the journey, this is the last thing you want to hear. Often I see parents being overly consumed with Apraxia; the more it consumes them and the more it consumes their child.

A child's schedule becomes fully dedicated to speech therapy rather than also committing themselves to being a kid, with play dates and trying a new sport or skill. Speech therapy becomes a full-time job for the parent AND the child, but they eliminate their well-being and they reduce the opportunity to find their hobbies, talents, and natural skills. Speech therapy is a necessity, I understand, but it's also just as important to mold a child into an actual human being-one with hobbies, talents, and interests-right?

Balance. It's so much easier said than done.

However, let's take some advice from a 16-year old Aly from her diary, on my very last day of speech therapy, "Speech therapy only helps my speech, but it does not help me as a whole."