October 15, 2010

The strong, silent type?

          I always like to follow-up on things I report to you here on my blog. (Follow-up is a big thing for me. I hate when other people fail to do it.) A while back I shared that our daughter is primarily non-verbal. We were waiting for her 18 month check up to discuss the issue with her pediatrician.
          At that time, after ruling out Autism as a potential cause, it was recommended that SB see a speech therapist. We agreed, but had some issues getting the whole thing set up. After calling several times and not getting any action, I went in to the pediatrician's office personally to get them to follow-up. (I told you it is important to me.) That did the trick.
          SB has been seeing a speech language pathologist (SLP) for a couple of months now. And while no formal diagnosis has been made, her therapist feels the most likely cause of SB's speech issues is Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). It is a "oral-motor" disorder. It is not considered to be a developmental delay. In fact, SB's language comprehension is quite advanced for her age.
          That is a common characteristic for those with CAS. For most kids, their language comprehension develops at the same pace as their ability to use speech. With CAS, the latter lags significantly. It's complicated, but the basic issue is that something is awry with the messages the brain sends to the mouth for speech.
          SB has been able to say a number of words, but never repeats them. The speech therapist suspects her brain is unable to reproduce the connection that caused the initial use of the word. SB babbles a great deal, but the only recognizable words she says with any consistency are Mama, Dada, No and "Da" (for that). We are seeing a wider range of sounds since she began therapy.
          IF this is in fact something SB has (and it cannot be diagnosed this early on), we've got two positive things going for us. First of all, we have SB in speech therapy two days a week, which is vital for children with CAS. She loves going there. Whenever I ask if she wants to go see Miss Natalie (her speech therapist), she just lights up. And she does very well in her sessions.
          Second, we began sign language with SB at a very young age. Signing is a very helpful tool for kids with CAS. It is actually recommended. So we are well ahead of the game in that respect. And thanks goodness for signing! It is often the only way SB can communicate. I plan to ramp up my signing efforts. SB is showing an ability to pick up new signs more quickly and easily now, so I want to encourage that to give her the ability to communicate effectively.
          I will continue to blog about this as our journey continues. I'll let you know how SB progresses, what diagnosis is made when that time comes, and the emotions I am experiencing over this whole thing. In the meantime, if you have had a similar experience, I'd love to hear about it.


  1. I hear about people using ASL with their kids more frequently these days. How great for you that you thought to use it with your girl!!!

  2. Thanks for following up. ASL is a great communication aid, isn't it?

  3. I actually had a number of people imply early on that I had contributed to SB's speech problems because I had signed w/her. The therapist says that is unfortunately a very common misperception.

  4. I've heard of CAS and from what I know of it there is nothing you could have done that caused it. That's horrible that anyone would even suggest such a thing! Signing will only broaden her horizons. My thoughts are with you on this tough journey.

  5. you are doing a great job! keep it up. Don't be discouraged. At about 20 months my son only had about 10 words consistently which is low. He's doing a little better now at 26 months but still doesn't even attempt phrases at all. His vocab is limited.
    It's so hard as moms to compare our children and worry and wonder if we are doing what is best for them.

    We also sign and I've wondered if that has contributed to his lack of speech... but all I hear is the opposite. That it only helps the child in the long run.

    So keep up the amazing work!

  6. ASL is only a good thing, IMO. My 2 oldest kids did a lot of signing and I think it helped. The 3rd one is lucky if I remember to feed him so no ASL classes for him. (I have started his therapy fund for all the things I haven't done for him - baby book, birthday parties, etc. The fund is small as I find so few coins in pockets and couch cushions, but it's a start.)

    I digress. Folks are good at judging. You and your husband know the truth. Keep at it - SB is lucky to have such wonderful parents!

  7. Your tenacity will be the difference for her, Elizabeth. My prayers are with you as your family embarks on this journey.

  8. Signing is awesome. I don't know if I told you that my sis got her degree in speech pathology. I'm sure she would welcome any question you might have. :-)

  9. My now seven year old son had CAS and has come through the process swimmingly. My husband and I actually look at each other now and wonder why we were ever worried about his speech,as now we are asking him to stop talking! We went down the same path you are on,and by intervening early,you are helping her excel in the future. The routine of speech prepares her for the structure of school,and learning her sounds gets her acquainted with the alphabet in another way. My son was slow to pick up reading skills,but we worked on that as we did with the speech and it came for him soon enough. Be supportive and approach things less traditionally,and the rewards will come. Our SLP actually teaches ALS,so there can only be benefits with it. Compared to other children his age,my guy is the most audible and distinct talker of his peers!

  10. @ Heather - Thank you!

    @ Grace - I never compare my child to others. And for the longest time I just figured she was going to be a late talker. But there came a point where I realized this could be something more. Very glad we are getting professional help. Keep in touch re: your son's progress!

    @ Kristina - LOL! My hubby is the third child. He got a big kick out of your comment. I don't know that people were necessarily judging. But they were definitely questioning me. I try not to take that too seriously, but it can sting sometimes.

    @ Jeannie - Thank you, dear!

    @ Miss Kitty - I did not know that! I might reach out to her.

    @ Tullochs - THANK YOU so much for sharing your story. It is very encouraging! I'm glad to hear things turned out so well for your son.

  11. Your persistence and advocacy for SB are probably the most important things you can do for her! Moving slow to move fast can be a hard philosophy to believe in, but progress will come! Xo

  12. Speech and language acquisition is so interesting to me! Thank you for sharing your situation and progress. Sticking in there, asking questions when you don't understand something, and being your child's biggest advocate are hard things to do, but so important!


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