My new friend, Pattie (aka "ApraxiaMom"), has graciously permitted me to post one of her recent posts. See, Pattie has 2 children with apraxia. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association defines childhood apraxia as: "Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) 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 his/her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements necessary to say those words. " It is common for children with CAS to also have expressive language deficits. Some may need a device or sign language to communicate. As they get older, these children will more than likely have serious difficulties with reading and writing, and may require additional services (other than speech/language therapy) to be successful in the classroom.
The following is a post written as a letter to her daughter, describing an experience she had while voting. It's hard for me to read this and realize that there are still so many people out there who have no idea that a special needs' child doesn't have to be physically disabled.
Seventy-two hours ago, you were assaulted by something that I have worked seven years to protect you from: ignorance.
It may be the first time, but I am sure it won't be the last.
However, I promise you that I will continue to protect you as well as I can.
That is my job description.
You didn't know that the old bitty that you asked "What's your name?" gave you a look of annoyance.
You didn't realize that the tone of her voice when she said "Joo-death" (Judith) was sarcasm.
You didn't see her roll her eyes to the woman sitting next to her in reference to you.
You didn't pick up on her aggravation with you when she scolded you for touching that cord between the voting booths.
You didn't see me give her the look of "she's-my-daughter-I-will-take-care-of-discipline-if-I-think-it's-necessary".
You didn't feel my disappointment in a public official.
You couldn't read my mind as I walked up to her to hand her a card with your diagnosis, hoping to educate her closed-mindedness.
Don't worry, Judith couldn't either.
You will never understand the pain I felt when that nasty old bitty of a man (and I use the term "man" very lightly) told me to put a sign around your neck so that others would know that you had special needs.
I will never forget it.
But what I want you to understand is that I did what I thought was right at that moment.
I chose to protect you.
I chose to not acknowledge his ignorance and evil.
I chose to walk away.
I chose to keep you from witnessing further harassment and discrimination from two people who, in my opinion, do not deserve a second glance or even breathe the God-given air around them.
I chose to protect you from physical harm, because if that man could bellow words so cruel and painful, what would stop him from physically hurting you or I?
I chose to breathe and pray.
Please don't think that I let you down by not standing up to them.
My silence was my stance.
But I only kept my silence for a short time.
I want you to know that I made sure the right people knew what he did.
A lot of right people.
Hundreds of people have read your story, my dear.
And those people have been very supportive of you and I.
So don't look at me in your funny little way if I pull you a little closer to me while we are out in public.
Don't be mad if I don't let you learn to fly on your own a little sooner.
Go on and keep playing if you see me talking with a stranger a little longer about why your speech isn't perfect yet.
Let me stroke your hair a few more times.
Let me give you one more hug before you walk into school.
I won't shelter you.
I will still allow you to do all the things that you did before.
I will just watch you a little closer.
And I will listen to those mean people a little closer.
Because mean people suck.
(Kate, please don't repeat that word, OK?)
But most of all, I love you more than life.
You are my life.
To learn more about Childhood Apraxia, visit the following links: