May 14 marks the third annual Apraxia Awareness Day, a movement headed by the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). The association’s motto—”Every Child Deserves a Voice”—entreats industry pros to correctly identify and treat kids with apraxia who may not develop intelligible speech. This is why apraxia awareness day is so important.
When I wrote the 10 Early Signs and Symptoms of Childhood Apraxia of Speech, many SLPs voiced their concern about how CAS is supposed to be a rare disorder and they are seeing over-diagnosis. Their concerns are valid. Current data, according to the ASHA portal, state that CAS occurs in every one to two children per 1,000. Over-diagnosis is a problem precipitated by factors that include:
- Lack of clear and consistent diagnostic guidelines.
- Lack of adequately validated diagnostic tools.
- Professionals other than SLPs (pediatricians, neurologists) diagnosing CAS.
- SLPs inadequately trained in diagnosis and treatment.
Over-diagnosis can cause families undue emotional stress and financial hardship. It also might divert important resources from those children who most need them.
According to research, children with CAS also often go undiagnosed if they truly DO have it! Differential diagnosis is critical with this disorder. Children not identified with CAS may struggle their entire lives and quite possibly not achieve intelligible speech without early and appropriate intervention. Consider that last line again: Without proper diagnosis and treatment, children with CAS may NOT achieve intelligible speech. This is what’s at stake!
Apraxia awareness is crucial for professionals and families, so every child who has CAS gets the services he or she needs and deserves, regardless of how “rare” the disorder.
These children and parents rely on SLPs to be their heroes. So please, take time today—or soon—to learn more about childhood apraxia of speech. And if you suspect CAS in a client or student:
- Seek out resources.
- Attend a conference.
- Listen in to a webinar.
- Talk to and consult with your colleagues.
- Wear blue and speak up for those who don’t yet have a voice.
- Above all, be part of the solution.
These children and families are counting on you.
Having trouble getting reimbursed for CAS treatment? Read advice on making successful appeals.
And more resources to learn more about childhood apraxia of speech:
- Apraxia-kids.org (CASANA):
- Offers a growing library of on-demand webinars for professionals and parents.
- Maintains a list of SLPs nationwide who are CASANA-recognized with advanced training and expertise and who are available for consult.
- Has a National Conference in July addressing all aspects of this disorder.
Laura Smith, MA, CCC-SLP, is a school-based and private clinician in the Denver metro area specializing in childhood apraxia of speech. She’s CASANA-certified for advanced training and clinical expertise in Childhood Apraxia of Speech and often speaks at conferences and consults for school districts or other professionals. Like her on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest, or visit her website at SLPMommyofApraxia.com. firstname.lastname@example.org