Pandemic shoots children's problems with childhood speech apraxia - Fonemi Institute in Puerto Rico

The consequences can be serious

The pandemic and the consequent closure of schools and cessation of therapeutic services have seriously affected the vulnerable population of special education children. Within this group, there are students diagnosed with childhood speech apraxia (AHI), who have been deprived of services. If these children do not receive their services, including therapies integrated into their academic curriculum, their progress will be affected, and as a result, they may suffer an irreparable lag.

Apraxia is a speech sound disorder that arises in the brain and causes a difficulty in planning and coordinating the oral movements needed to produce the sounds and join them together to form from syllables to words and sentences, in the absence of muscle weakness. Every day these minors go without services is detrimental to the optimal development of communication, which will result in other problems in learning. The more time you spend, the harder your progress is.

These children, as recommended by the Mayo Clinic, experts in this diagnosis, need intensive and consistent treatment in order to overcome the difficulty with a spinal prowess in humans: that of communicating effectively.

These children and their parents suffer for years from ignorance of this diagnosis. Many professionals who serve this population share with parents the concern that "something happens to their child who wants to communicate, but speaks little and is not understood what he is saying."

The general ignorance of our society and, worse, among the professionals who serve this population, can cause these children and their families to suffer the following consequences:

Loss of years of treatment from a late diagnosis. The wait to make the diagnosis, because they are considered to be still very small and barely speak, is a mistake. As early as 2 years of age, the indicators of apraxia are evident. Early diagnosis and intensive treatment on time can help them overcome apraxia. Lost time cannot be recovered.

A misdiagnosis in the early years. Misdiagnoses such as severe speech, phonology or autism are common. This has the effect of receiving ineffective treatment that causes them to reach kindergarten with a severe problem communicating. It's a terrible mistake to confuse apraxia with autism, and place them in the same classroom aimed at children with autism. Ignorance makes this error unacceptable common.

Learn more about our Child Speaking Apraxia Clinic (AHI)

Inadequate school location. Children with AHI often have dyslexia (difficulty learning to read), dysgraphia (writing difficulty), and dyscalculia (difficulty with math), so they need innovative educational approaches to this diagnosis. In addition, specialized therapies for apraxia should be part of the child's daily curriculum. An educational-therapeutic curriculum is the most effective and helps them in the learning process.

Vulnerability to bullying or bullying. Out of ignorance they may be considered as children with intellectual disabilities, which is not part of the diagnosis, or immature because they "speak like babies", or socially inept because they are not understood when they speak.

If this harsh reality that it is for children to live with apraxia because of the ignorance of the diagnosis we add the cancellation of services by the pandemic, the possibility that they can overcome their difficulties, are increasingly remote.

How to help students with apraxia during the pandemic?

Children with apraxia need to continue their specialized therapies for this diagnosis through teletherapy or distance therapies. Likewise, their education must be specialized, taking into account the particularities of this diagnosis. Your education must also continue through virtual mode. They need lost time to recover. This means that this summer you must invest in helping them continue to make progress to overcome their difficulties. This summer is not the time to seek pure fun.

On August 1, 2019, Law 133-2019 was signed to designate May 14 as the "Awareness Day on the Diagnosis of Child Speech Apraxia", with the aim of guiding and raising awareness among the people about this diagnosis.

The law is perfect on paper, but nothing has changed since then for these children who continue to suffer from a poor school location, misdiagnosis, ineffective treatments, bullying or bullying, and this year, for cessation of

pandemic services. It is high time we raise awareness of the existence of this diagnosis and the particular needs of these children.

Guidance is the key, as the Law says. The responsibility is everyone's responsibility.