My name is Laura Baskall Smith, and I was an SLP five years prior to the birth of my first child. I went four days over her due date, and had to be induced. Labor did not progress as expected and we ended up having a C-section. Her apgar score was a healthy 9, and I was relieved everything would be okay.
At 6 months, she was a happy baby, always giggling and laughing; however, she wasn’t babbling like she was supposed to. In addition, she had extremely pointed toes and she was starting to lag in physical developmental milestones. At her well baby check, the doctor told me to stretch out her calves which I did each night in the bathtub. I took her to a Physical Therapist who I worked with, who didn’t think she was too far behind yet as she was just meeting her milestones on the low end of the average range.
At one year of age, she had her first word “hi” that she would proudly and consistently say to everyone. Always the social child, it was a powerful word.
She still wasn’t walking though and could only army crawl. She also couldn’t eat solids well and would seem to just swallow her food whole. She couldn’t pucker for a kiss, use a straw, or feed herself well. She always came in though right underneath the cut off for motor issues.
By 18 months I knew her speech was delayed. I worked with her every night for over a year trying to stimulate language and speech production. I remember talking to the pediatrician who was trying to give me professional courtesy while still strongly hinting I might want to take her for an evaluation. I was mortified. I AM an expert in speech and language disorders. I help other kids talk all the time. Surely I could do and was doing what any other SLP would do.
By 2 years 9 months, I finally had to waive my white flag. A was severely delayed at this point in her speech. That evaluation flipped our world upside down. “Laura, this is apraxia.” I will never forget that day or that sentence. I will never forget how devastated I was. I knew from treating it in elementary school what a complex and difficult disorder it was. A future of struggles and heartbreak flashed before my eyes. Oh, and not only did she have verbal apraxia, but she was delayed in all motoric development. Essentially, she was globally impacted with motor planning issues. In the apraxia world, we refer to this as global apraxia.
I instantly jumped into action. I found an SLP who specialized in the Kaufman method who helped A over that initial hump from an ineffective imitator to an effective imitator. I researched like mad, and joined every group I could find. I devoured information. I attended workshops and conferences, and then was fortunate enough to be selected for a four day intensive training on Childhood Apraxia of Speech. I started only seeing clients with CAS exclusively and am now CASANA recognized for advanced training and expertise in Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
I always say a mother is the expert on her child, and she is. However, now I had the benefit of being an expert on my child and the speech and language expert watching her develop. I feel like watching my daughter on this journey has taught me so much more than anything ever could. I know this disorder personally and professionally. There is nothing now that I am more passionate about.
This blog is a personal and professional compilation of my experiences with apraxia. I frequently write about my daughter’s journey, about my journey; but also about my clients and their families. In addition, I post materials I have made that I personally use in therapy for my kiddos.