The Norman Transcript

May 24, 2014

McAlester mother bringing awareness to speech disorder

By Jeanne Leflore
The Norman Transcript

MCALESTER — A McAlester mother and her son traveled to the Capitol recently to witness the reading of Senate Resolution 56 for Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

Shelly Kelly said her son Grant, 6, was diagnosed with CAS when he was 4-years-old and since then she’s learned a great deal about the disorder which is estimated to affect 10 out every 1,000 children.

According to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech. The child knows what he or she wants to say, but the brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words.

Kelly said being at the Capitol that day with her son was very emotional because of all they had been through.

“We were there on May 14, the second ever National Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Day,” Kelly said. “I  had never heard of CAS until my son was diagnosed with it more than a year ago. I made it my goal, by traveling to the Capitol and being present in session, to raise awareness for this disorder.”

She said although Grant had symptoms of the disorder at a very young age, she wasn’t able to recognize them.

She said one of the first signs her son had the disorder appeared when he was 14 months old.

“He was having a hard time swallowing solid foods and would harbor it in his cheeks for awhile before eventually spitting it out,” Kelly said.

At that point she said her son’s pediatrician told her to “wait and see.”

By his second birthday, Kelly said she noticed Grant’s speech was somewhat behind that of other children his age, but “I just assumed he was a ‘late-talker’ and would talk when he was ready.”

By the time Grant was 3, he had a total of 10 words in his vocabulary, she said.

“That’s when I contacted the speech therapist.”

Kelly said Grant was diagnosed with a severe case of CAS after a year of speech therapy.

“Until that day, I had never heard of the term ‘apraxia’ and I didn’t have any idea of what having CAS entailed,” she said.

Today, Grant is talking up a storm, Kelly said.

“Thanks to an amazing speech language pathologist, the Rite Care Clinic, and lots of work,” she said.

Grant’s speech disorder is far from being resolved, but he has greatly improved his speech and motor skills, Kelly said.

To help bring awareness to CAS and to raise money for CAS education, Kelly said she is part of a group hosting the Tulsa Walk for Children with Apraxia at LaFortune Park on Oct. 18.

“By hosting this walk, not only is it my desire to raise awareness for CAS but to encourage parents to seek help at the earliest point in their children’s lives that they feel there may be a problem or delay,” Kelly said. “Early intervention is the key and every child deserves a voice.”

For more information about the Tulsa Walk for Children with Apraxia, visit secure.apraxia-kids.org.

Breaking news, severe weather alerts, AMBER alerts, sports scores from The Norman Transcript are available as text messages right to your phone or mobile device. You decide which type of alerts you want to receive. Find out more or to signup, click here.