You’d like to blame someone, anyone on this misfortunate combination of luck and biology, I didn’t do it…she did it.” But chances are, there is nothing or no one that can really take the blame. Of course, you are wondering why your little one has CAS…there are no clear-cut answers, and even the experts can’t seem to agree on any one cause.
Ever had a Thanksgiving conversation in which you shoot the breeze, talk about the weather, politics and religion and then ask, “So which one of you lovely relatives gave my kid speech apraxia?” Suddenly everyone looks down and gets quiet—so quiet you hear the swallowing of the sweet potatoes. There. You asked. Someone sets their fork down and says, “Why do you ask?” Folks might get a teensy bit defensive…it’s like the blame game but know one really knows who to blame. Fact is there is some genetic connection to CAS.
Have you thought about the family members—extended and immediate—who may have had a speech disorder? I hadn’t thought much about this until my husband piped up and told me that he had a lisp as a kid, “Everyone used to think it was cute, but I was sort of embarrassed by it, especially as I got older.” I learned he received speech therapy through the 3rd grade. And then I began asking more: did your parents have a speech disorder? How about your grandparents?
When you do your own familial research, you’ll likely be a bit more discreet than the Thanksgiving dinner scenario. Keep in mind that there are lots of speech and language disorders to consider. Here’s a list, though not exhaustive:
- Late to talk
- Selective mutism (unable speak in certain social situations due to extreme anxiety)
- Trouble finding the right words (groping and silent posturing)
- Trouble with certain sounds (i.e. “R” words)
- Unable to understand what is being said (unintelligible)
- Volume of voice
- Quality of voice (whisper, high-pitched, grating, hoarse, nasal)
- Strange rhythm to voice
- Chewing/Swallowing/Eating difficulties
- Learning Disability
- Writing/Reading Disability
- Remember, accidents from traumatic brain injuries (TBI), paralysis, or stroke (CVA) causing some kind of speech impediment are not “passed down” and should not be considered in this equation.
Keep track of your family speech pedigree. But remember, “filling in the blanks” is not a diagnostic tool. It’s just interesting to you and your speech therapist to see the family connection. It does not indicate that there is a clear genetic cause for CAS, but it does show a tendency for speech problems for your family.
It’s a tough call and a loaded question when some well-meaning person asks you what causes apraxia. Rest assured, you didn’t do anything–it just is. As a parent, you are doing your very best by reading about apraxia, getting your child to a therapist, and working with your child at home. Keep up the good work, just don’t blame your in-laws at Thanksgiving.