When I decided to write this post about my buddy, Luke, my first thought was the word "journey". You see, Luke has Verbal Apraxia, and treatment is definitely a journey...a long journey. I was on the search for a synonym for journey that started with L, so I could come up with some cute, catchy title to go with his name. Well, apparently, there are no words for journey that start with L, but I did see this word: EXPEDITION. I was a bit blown away by the irony because just yesterday, Luke and I practiced the word "expedition" as he is working on "eks" and "egz" combination in multi-syllabic words in sentences! So, join me on Luke's expedition.
Luke and I were featured in the local Cincinnati Enquirer way back in our very early times together. Trust me, we were not working on "eks" in multi-syllabic words in sentences back then! Luke's apraxia prevented him from making most consonant sounds and most vowel sounds were inconsistent at best.
Luke came to me as basically a non-verbal little boy with just a few grunting and babbling sounds when he was three years old. His parents were so dedicated to following through on the homework I provided & working with him at home, and that made all the difference. Speech pathologists & parents (along with grandparents, teachers, other professionals) are all on this journey... well, expedition, together.
I actually like the term "expedition" better than "journey" come to think of it. Journey just seems to imply that you are moving forward along a path. While, of course, this is what all of us affected by apraxia want, the word "expedition" sounds like a learning journey. Moving forward through learning is exactly what needs to happen for children with apraxia.
The following video is Luke when he was 4 years old. He is clearly very verbal but not clear verbally.
You probably understood most of what Luke was trying to convey because of the context of the images. Imagine there were no pictures, and you only heard the audio portion. Press play on the video again and close your eyes. Could you ever imagine what he is saying?
This is the struggle with children who have apraxia. They try so hard to be understood but most times can't. Imagine the frustration. Imagine how frustrating it would be to repeat the same thing over and over, yet no one can understand you. It's like talking to my teenage boys! All joking aside, a family affected by apraxia is most likely to feel not only frustrated, but sadness, hopelessness, helplessness, grief, dissolution, and anger... among an array of all kinds of other feelings as well. I do not take the responsibility of treating children with apraxia lightly as I know an entire family's emotional well-being is depending on my help.
I have worked with Luke since he was three years old. He will turn 11 in just a few weeks. He will also likely "graduate" from speech therapy shortly after. I am sharing a video of our session just yesterday, where he was relaying a story from his vacation the prior week.
I'm guessing you didn't have an ounce of trouble understanding one word of Luke's story! This boy has scaled mountains & I am so happy that I have been able to lead him on his journey... no, his expedition!!