If you have apraxia of speech, I want you to know that you are not alone. You see, I have it too, which means that we’ve probably faced similar challenges in life. Because we have a hard time putting sounds together, it makes communicating difficult. As you’re aware, not being well-understood means that we might have a few more obstacles in our path than other people do. But that’s what makes us unique.
And I want you to know that despite having apraxia of speech, it is possible to live a fulfilling life. I am now 21 years old and have two jobs, both of which involve speaking with customers. In fact, I’ve come a long way since I first shared my journey in a Tell Me A Story seven years ago. I still have plenty of learning and growing to do, but I want those with the condition who are younger than I am to read my story and have hope.
So I thought I would share some things that I’ve learned along the way. Here are six things that have helped me:
Growing up with Apraxia of Speech: 6 Things That Helped Me
I discovered stress relief techniques
When people don’t understand what I’m saying, I get frustrated. At some point, I developed social anxiety because I was afraid to talk to people. I was scared that they wouldn’t understand me, so I avoided it all together. This made me realize that I needed a physical outlet to release my stress and frustrations. I’ve played many sports in my childhood, such as basketball and floor hockey. Now running is my favorite.
I found a creative outlet
I’ve found that in addition to a physical outlet, I need a creative release as well. I write, because it helps me to get my thoughts out on paper. When they’re on the paper, I am less likely to dwell on them. I’ve written about a girl with emotional issues, and most recently, I’ve started writing scripts for YouTube and posting them online. I want to inspire others who have the same condition as I do.
I built a support system
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have an amazing support system, both at home and at school. My teachers have encouraged me to try new things and to not let my disability get in the way of accomplishing my goals. I also attend a self-advocacy group once a month, which helps me understand my rights and responsibilities.
I utilized speech therapy
I’m not going to lie. There was a time when I didn’t want to do speech therapy. It was a lot of work and I didn’t understand how much I needed it. But I wanted to become more fluent, so I started going again once a week. I first started speech therapy when I was about three years old. After that, I worked with different speech therapists on specific sounds and then putting words together into sentences. Eventually, I was evaluated for a Dynavox talking device, which was the focus of my therapy for quite a while. The next step was using the lighter-weight and socially-accepted iPad with the Touch Chat app. I now use on my iPhone when people don’t understand my words.
I tried to not give up
Sure, I’ve had some rocky, frustrating roads to cross. And I’m sure I’ll encounter many more. But my teachers and family have all encouraged me to not give up. Show people what I can do, even if it takes a few tries, and even if I need to use the speech app on my phone. It may take me a little longer but following through is much more rewarding.
I learned how to stick up for myself
People who aren’t familiar with my disability might not realize that I can think and hear just fine. I have the same feelings like everyone else does – it may just take me longer to say what’s on my mind. So if someone doesn’t understand you, don’t be afraid to repeat yourself until they do.