Tomorrow is the 14th of May. To some it might be just another date, just another day; but to those of us with children with a certain type of speech disorder, it’s a big thing. It’s Apraxia Awareness day! The one day of the year when we get to go all out and tell the world about our children with apraxia/verbal dyspraxia – those little ones who are trying to find their voices – and the struggles that they and their families are facing every day.
This time last year, Monty was three years old and nine months. He only had a handful of speech sounds, and another handful of single words on the side. Much of his communication centred around the sounds ‘eeh’ and ‘eh eh.’ We were panicking. Every appointment with a professional left us with more questions, more worry, more concerns over the future. We poured ourselves into researching the internet, and doing speech therapy, and doing yet more speech therapy, and testing Monty for every type of mineral and vitamin deficiency that we could get our hands on. And it was tiring, and repetitive, and sometimes, a little bit negative.
When I knew that Apraxia Awareness day was coming last year, I decided to do something positive. I wanted to spread the word that my little boy was suffering with something more than just silence. I wanted to tell the people we saw everyday what life was really like for Monty, rather than just say ‘we’re fine’ all the time. I wanted to inform people, so that if they ever met anyone else with verbal dyspraxia, they would know what it was, and what the parents of that child might be going through. So how do you do all that? You have a coffee morning, of course, and you provide a lot of cake.
I had so many friends offer their help and support. Some brought beautiful home-made cakes. Many paid over the odds for raffle tickets so that we could buy Monty’s nursery the Nuffield NDP3 computer programme and a heap of resources for parents going through the same thing. Looking back, it seemed a relief for friends and family to be able to do something to help, in their own little ways, in what was at the time a helpless situation. And I was so grateful. Out of the sadness came something so positive, where people were so receptive and understanding, that it was one of the things to inspire me to start this blog. This morning I told Monty that tomorrow would be Apraxia Awareness Day. He’s used to seeing the little blue symbol, like a little pair of crossed fingers for hope.
He looked at the pictures on the internet, and then he said, ‘Is for me, Mummy?’
‘Yes’, I said. ‘It’s for you, and all the other children who are finding their words this year.’
Monty looked at them again, studying them harder. ‘I like the blue best. Actually, little star best.’
What a difference a year makes.