Beate Peter, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Will earliest interventions during the first months and years of life help to prevent childhood apraxia of speech? To find out, the Peter Speech/Language Genetics Lab at Arizona State University has launched the Babble Boot Camp. With guidance from a speech-language pathologist with special expertise in infants and toddlers, parents learn to stimulate and support earliest signals of communication, from eye gaze to cooing and babble to first words and sentences. The Babble Boot Camp was originally designed for babies with classic galactosemia. These babies have a very high risk for severe speech and language disorders, and because this risk is known as soon as the babies are diagnosed via newborn screening, they hold the key for finding out whether earliest professional intervention helps their speech and language later on. The first results are encouraging, and now it’s time to expand the study to include babies with other kinds of genetic risks for childhood apraxia of speech. We are looking for babies who have older siblings or other biological relatives with childhood apraxia of speech. The entire extended family will be included so that we can find the genetic cause of the apraxia, which helps us find out if the baby has the same genetic risk as the other members of the family with apraxia.
Here is how it works:
1. Families from anywhere in the US can participate because the intervention is all online.
2. Parents contact the principal investigator for a brief telephone screening. Each family member donates a DNA sample, fills out questionnaires, provides copies of previous speech-language pathology reports, and completes some speech and language tasks.
3. For the intervention, parents meet online with the speech-language pathologist for an initial orientation and weekly 10-minute sessions. Once a month, parents make a day-long audiorecording using a recorder that we provide. Every few months, parents fill out some questionnaires about their baby’s speech and language growth and about the baby’s and their own general health. The weekly meetings with the speech-language pathologist end when the child turns 2 years old. A full speech and language assessment is done at that time and again when the child turns 3 and 4 years old.
1. The baby can be as young as a newborn and should be younger than 6 months.
2. The baby should not have any other medical or developmental diagnosis besides the familial risk of severe speech disorder.
3. At least two biological relatives have to have a diagnosis of a severe speech disorder.
4. Both biological parents and any siblings should participate in the study. Also, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and cousins should participate in the study, altogether at least 10 people – the more, the merrier, because it makes it easier to find the genetic change that causes the apraxia.
5. English should be the primary language of the baby’s parents.
Note: We can’t guarantee any results; keep in mind that this is a research study.
To find out more about the study, contact Beate Peter at Beate.Peter@asu.edu.
IRB approval information: Protocols STUDY00004969 at Arizona State University and STUDY00001315 at the University of Washington.
Download the flyer for this study here.