This document is provided to you in support of the Faster Care for Speech and Hearing the Goal of MPP Bill. We are the only non-profit in the United States dedicated to the support for children diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech and their families. From our understanding, licensed speech-language pathologists in Ontario, Canada conduct assessments and then refer a patient back to a doctor in order to obtain a diagnosis of childhood apraxia of speech. But that is often an unnecessary step, delaying the commencement of treatment which can be quite frustrating for the parents/caregivers of these children who themselves are frustrated by their lack of ability to communicate with others.
Many speech-language pathologists in Ontario hold the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). The ASHA Position Statement, which came out in 2007 supports that “it is the certified speech-language pathologist who is responsible for making the primary diagnosis of CAS, for designing and implementing the individualized and intensive speech-language treatment programs needed to make optimum improvement, and for closely monitoring progress.” We do not have the restriction in the United States to have children suspected to have apraxia referred to a physician before critical treatment can begin. Also, it is our understanding,that this restriction doesn’t exist in any other provinces except Ontario and Prince Edward Island.
Childhood apraxia of speech is not a medical diagnosis. We currently have no definitive genetic testing or brain imaging that will allow a physician to make this diagnosis. The physician is often left having to turn back to the speech-pathologist for confirmation of the clinical symptoms that present when a child struggles with this challenging speech disorder. We cannot expect a child, who already is often reluctant to talk to most people, to be comfortable enough in the doctor’s office to provide a sample of speech that allows the physician to make this clinical diagnosis nor can we expect physicians to have the training to accomplish this.
This bill will help eliminate this unnecessary step making the health care system more responsive to patients and more cost effective. The Ontario Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (OSLA) is supporting the Bill and hope that it will be receive unanimous consent to pass third reading and become law before the end of the legislative session and the launch of the provincial general election. We are fully behind them in this endeavor.