Remember back when you were in school…the nice ladies who took your meal ticket, scooped up your mashed potatoes, and handed it all to you with a smile and a hairnet? Yes, the lunch ladies, you remember them well. Perhaps not by name, but if you think back you might still remember their faces. You always knew they’d be there to help you if you should need it. They came around after you ate, wiped the tables clean and prepared the cafeteria for the next round of students.
Don’t take this the wrong way but there are similarities between lunch ladies and speech ladies. I’m not referring to SLPs necessarily, although they shouldn’t be excluded. Speech ladies can be anyone you’ve bumped into on your apraxia journey who seems to have a lot of knowledge or expertise or experience in the whole world of speech therapy. They may have been a mom whose child “graduated” speech therapy in the not-so-distance past or someone whose currently going through the same things you are. They are interested in helping you help your child.
My “speech ladies” come from a variety of places–listservs, emails, neighbors…my daughter’s speech therapist (but that one is sort of expected). Last weekend, I had the opportunity to meet a couple of my speech ladies in person. You see, I had “met” them on-line, a friend of a friend, etc. They are both living in St. Louis (my hometown)–I’m in Chicago now–and I thought, “How ironic, these two women who seem to know so much about apraxia both live in St. Louis. We should all get together sometime.” I emailed these ladies indepently and inquired about meeting. As luck would have it, one of the women (Rhonda) was actually an SLP who had worked with the other woman’s (Amy) daughter (with CAS)!! Here I was thinking I was connecting all of us together, when in fact, it was them who was connecting me!
We chatted and shared information over drinks at Panera (The St. Louis Bread Co) and let me tell you just how sweet and refreshing I found these two women. To be able to connect over something we have in common (apraxia) while exchange information, ideas, even complaints seemed to lighten my mind and heart.
It’s hard being a parent of child with apraxia. We need speech ladies in our lives to help us along the way, to wipe the tears and messes and to prepare us for what’s to come. Here are a few more points I tool away from our conversation:
- Don’t refer to your child with CAS as “an apraxic kid.” It sounds benign, but always put your child first. “My daughter with apraxia” is better than “my apraxic daughter.” (Just as you wouldn’t say, “My Down’s kid,” or “My autistic boy,” right?)
- Social skills groups are great and can really helps kiddos with apraxia. Don’t overlook them. Is there a “lunch bunch,” or similar group at your church, your child’s preschool, or speech clinic?
- Child acting or theatre classes might be just the ticket for kids who need some assistance with social situations. Often when kids have a script to follow, they “get” what needs to be said/done to have interpersonal relations.
- Martial arts, swimming, gymnastics, and soccer are all great opportunities to get those kids moving who seem to be driven by a motor.
- If your child will be starting kindergarten soon, make sure the elementary school has information on your little one’s history with speech services. Call the school now and leave a message or connect with the school principal or psychologist who can either help you directly or get you in touch with the person who can. You may need to schedule an evaluation now (get on a waiting list perhaps) so when fall rolls around, you’ll be ahead of the game.
You may not be eating cafeteria food anymore, but be sure you find yourself some speech ladies who can scoop up some food for thought. You’ll be glad you did!