Speech Apraxia and How Sign Language Changed Our World

Our son has been diagnosed with Speech Apraxia for about a year now. It has once again changed our lives – in a different way.  For those who don’t know what speech apraxia is, Speech Apraxia is a motor speech disorder. Children with Speech Apraxia have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech.  Greyson will be 3 soon and still can’t talk.  He can say about 6 words consistently, which is huge for our little guy.

In the beginning I never thought that speech would ever be an issue, but of course I was wrong like with everything else.  There was a point in time where we knew he just wasn’t anywhere close to talking.  We just were waiting until one day it would just happen.  The day it would just click for Greyson.  He was getting speech with Early Steps but it wasn’t enough.  We knew Greyson needed more than that if we ever wanted to communicate with him.  We sought out private therapy 45 mins away from us.  They specialized in the areas that he needed to work on; oral motor therapy.   We started there and just added on.  The therapist worked to hopefully coordinate his mouth a little more.  We started adding sign language in the mix.  It took him a little while, but once he caught on he became a fast learner to sign language.  Once we did the basic needs with him, he started to really connect the words with the sign.  From this he has gained such a great understanding of things.  He knows what things are now. 

A year later, he is just starting to be able to speak 1 syllable words.  Like I said in the beginning of the blog he can consistently say 6 words.  One thing we realized with speech apraxia is for a while it would sound like he was saying words, but they would never stick around.  The words or what we thought were words would come and go.  They would come when he wasn’t trying.  If you made him try to say a word, he couldn’t do it.  Those words with the help of sign language have helped him gain an understanding.  He knows what they are and he knows what they mean.  For a while I never thought we would get to this point.  I know we still have a long road ahead of us.  

I used to be so sad that he couldn’t communicate his basic needs.  It’s been a guessing game for so long for us.  Picking up and learning sign language opened up so much for our family.  It has opened up for much for Greyson. Being able to communicate his basic needs has been an amazing feeling.  I used to think that we were missing out on so much from him still being nonverbal; missing out on their “baby” voice and other things.  I’ve learned that no matter what age they learn to talk or learn new things in general.  It’s still as exciting as it would have been if he would have learned to talk like other kids his age.  Greyson gets so proud of himself when he signs to us.  That little smile on his face assures us at parents that we are going something right.  Every child is different.  Different things work for different children.  This is just what works best for our family. – Greyson’s Mom, Guest Blogger

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