[This post is dedicated to the mothers who wonder about the timing of speech therapy or those that have had one too many appointments… and still looking for the magic wand]

As a Speech Pathologist, I have worked with MANY children over the years with speech difficulties.  Today I am going to focus on apraxia.  But actually, this is also for you wonderful mum, if your child has any speech issues.

Apraxia is a speech disorder, also known as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) or developmental verbal dyspraxia (DVD).

It is a ‘mysterious’ motor planning disorder, where the signals don’t get from the brain to the articulators, which affects timing and pronunciation of speech.

As a speech pathologist, we are taught ‘no known cause’ and to spend a lot of time trying to diagnose it instead.  Without regular and consistent speech therapy, children can make little progress.

From what I have seen, there actually is more of a magic wand for this speech disorder, than most realise.  And a wand that can help our children to become their most vibrant selves at the same time!

What is apraxia all about?

As I work with these children, I often noticed these sensitive little ones have more than just speech issues.  They have many signs that hint at a sensitive child, including many other health and development issues.

The health issues are your ‘typical’ childhood health complaints such as constantly sick, skin irritations, constipation, paleness, sleep issues and more.

And some even displayed other developmental issues such as delayed milestones, delayed language, movement difficulties or learning difficulties such as with literacy.

Some children with apraxia also come with a diagnosis, for example global developmental delay, autism or syndromes but it can also occur in children who are quite bright and sensitive.  There is an array of them.

The common factor is that apraxia and these other childhood health and development issues all point at a body and brain that is struggling.  It immediately tells me this child is SENSITIVE.

You see, apraxia has more to do with the brain than the articulators of speech.

This post has nothing against Speech Pathologists or the profession but all to do with the respect for the families who are desperate for their child to talk.  And in my opinion, just aren’t being shown the root cause.

I would like to show you!

Is speech therapy the best way to deal with apraxia?

Over the years in my work as a Speech Pathologist, I have seen the desperate parents who have spent just so much of their time, energy and effort in trying to help their children talk through speech therapy.

This can look like weekly or even bi-weekly speech appointments with the Speech Pathologist, typically sitting down to work with  the child.  However, from my experience in looking into the toxins and foods that affect our childrens’ brain, it makes me question whether we should be looking to this first.

I feel so sad when I see these desperate families :

  • spending a lot of money on speech therapy
  • using a lot of their child’s precious time which could be spent playing or socialising
  • leaking their time, effort and mental energy where speech therapy is just an extra thing on their schedule to take this child to their appointment, let alone the follow up homework
  • Or the guilt if/when they just don’t get to it!

It is quite a big commitment.

I have seen that yes speech therapy does appear to help.  If you have the right child who is motivated with the attention skills for it and the right Speech Pathologist that can develop excellent rapport and who has the right skills!  For example, using a PROMPT therapy which literally shows the child, through tactile cues on the child’s facial muscles, how to make the sounds and time it into speech.

The quandary

I have used PROMPT with children and it has got excellent potential.  However!  It must be regular and the child must be ready to practice many repetitions in the session to actually change neural pathways.  Otherwise you are wasting your time.

And of course, many keen families are getting in with very young children.  Children who just don’t have the attention and motivation to sit for this intensive practice.

The result

Sadly, I have seen too many families, years down the track, look back.   They realise their child hasn’t made a lot of progress or are tired from the long slog.  They are lost and confused and still desperate.

Some of the families don’t realise their child hasn’t made substantial progress.  But I see it.  And want more for this child.

Some mothers have had their intuition question it.  But they’ve pushed that nudge down, not knowing if there was another answer and through their desperation have continued with speech therapy.

And there are very few mothers who question it and then just trust their child could make ‘spontaneous recovery’ anyway.

Spontaneous recovery?

I can tell you, spontaneous recovery is a real thing.  Speech Pathologists may feel threatened by this, but it is true.

Children will keep developing their speech skills, given time.  Like with anything, practice improves a skill.  And maturity and increasing motivation helps too.  How many adults do you see with such speech issues?

Generally, these children have grown up without talking nearly as much as another child of the same age.  Naturally, they ‘clock’ far less hours in practicing speech as another child as a toddler.  This just means less experience for the brain and so given time and practice, the children do learn to coordinate better.

Many parents or grandparents of the child with apraxia will tell you they had speech difficulties or were late talkers.  But they talk with little to no signs of it all now.

I will say, it is more likely for a child with more ‘typical’ speech delays to completely recover.  And no, don’t stop speech therapy if it is working for you and your family!

My wholistic, proactive approach to apraxia

Knowing that apraxia is a condition affecting the brain, it makes sense to put our energy where we can help the brain to do what it does best.  And allow the child to learn to develop speech with a brain that is ready to plan and organise speech correctly.

Just as the body will recover itself, given half a chance, the brain also can learn to recover itself, given half a chance.

This can look like a family that works on the root cause itself first while the child is young and doesn’t have as much attention or motivation to change their speech.

The root cause

Over the years I have seen the effects of foods, toxins and even stress on the development and functioning of the brain.

Food intolerances – our sensitive new age children are being weakened by all sorts of foods.  This might be sugar, vegetable oils and food additives, but also the ‘healthy enough’ culprits such as gluten, dairy, soy and corn.  It literally wreaks havoc on the body and these ‘toxins’ then make their way to the brain.  Food intolerances are having a much larger effect on the neurological development of our children than we realise.

Toxins – on top of aggravating foods, our sensitive children are getting affected by every chemical that is in, on and around them.  This goes as far back as in utero and the onslaught continues as the child is born with the toxins in vaccines, water, food, cleaning and family personal products and even ‘baby/hypo-allergenic’ products.

Stress – to a lesser extent but certainly a contributor, early stress has the potential to literally have a negative impact on the child’s brain.

The fine line

Unravelling the effects of the above factors, can take some years.  By this stage, the family might consider some speech therapy, with their child’s ‘brainfog’ lifted to a greater degree.

Ideally with the right speech pathologist, with the right skills and the child at the best ‘window’ in getting the most out of therapy with them.

There is the fine line in waiting longer than needed and the child having speech patterns that are difficult to change.  Versus getting in too soon and having a child who is, what speech pathologists term ‘therapised’, where the child has had that much therapy that by the time they hit 4, 5 or 6years and they are actually better to work with, they are completely sick of working with Speech Pathologists doing therapy games, therapy homework and having their parents pull them up on speech.  The child shuts down completely.

The bonus of the wholistic approach

What I find it hard to impress upon the parents is this.  Your child is sensitive.  Their speech difficulties are just the tip of the iceberg in what is going on for them.

They need you to commit to making the lasting changes that will help them to not only talking with ease but also to learn, to play, to be creative, to have energy, to sleep, to be well and to have long lasting health habits that will give back to them a million-fold.

Beautiful mama, I am now taking applications for 4 and 6 month mentorships where I guide parents to create their own vibrant children through my root cause approach.  Please get in touch here if you are interested and we can chat about how I can help your family!

Heidi