Featured Story: Cooper’s All Stars

Cooper was a happy, healthy baby.  However, he did not babble or coo, constantly over stuffed his mouth with food, groped with his mouth and tongue, and had little to no words when it came time for him to “talk”. Before I even realized something wasn’t quite right, I started teaching him sign language just for fun, but he didn’t catch on nor seem interested. We pushed on and eventually he picked up a few signs like please, thank you, more, all done, milk and a few others, but he also began to make high pitched shrills and lots of grunts when he wanted something.  So I would sign with him and say things like, “oh you want more milk,” and he would shake his head yes or no.

Many people said to me things like: he’s just a late talker, it’s a boy thing, his big sister talks for him, or he doesn’t talk because we give him what he wants.  All of which were far from the truth!  We worked so hard to help him find his words and he started saying “ma” for mama, “A” for our dog Ace, and he even said “Nana” a few times before completely losing the word. When he was almost 20-month-old, I contacted our local early intervention program and asked for him to be evaluated for speech.  An evaluator came to our house and Cooper passed his first evaluation – which was an overall evaluation for cognitive abilities, fine and gross motor skills, and expressive and receptive language.  We were told while he did have expressive language delays, that he scored high enough in the other areas that he did not qualify for intervention and that they could come back in a few months to reevaluate.

Eventually he did receive therapy, but it wasn’t always easy.  Therapy was hard work and sometimes Cooper would throw epic fits to get out it.  It was quite the battle, but eventually we found the right therapy schedule and he began to show very slow (i’m talking like a snail’s pace) improvement.  I knew in my heart that something wasn’t quite right and this was just not a “typical speech delay”. I began to research and turned to our local Children’s Hospital to have him further evaluated by someone who specialized in apraxia.

The evaluation conclude, that without a doubt, our son had apraxia. While I was heartbroken to know that there was something truly wrong, I was happy to know we had a starting point to our journey and felt we were headed in the right direction.

Now, almost five years later, Cooper is in third grade. He still receives private speech therapy and occupational therapy, plus he receives speech therapy at school twice a week.  With the right support and hard work, he has made amazing strides since his diagnosis in October 2014. He has never once let apraxia stop him from doing anything.

In honor of our son, we participated in our fifth Walk for Apraxia during summer 2019.  Each year, we have worked hard using different methods of advocacy and fund raising to raise awareness about childhood apraxia of speech.  Each year I am blown away when we arrive at the walk and I see Cooper’s smile as he whispers to me, “Mama, you know they do ALL of this for me and kids just like me!” and I smile and say, “I know baby, that’s because you are all such rock-stars, work so very hard, and deserve all of this!”

Furthermore, raising over $1000 and being part of the Walk for Apraxia Champions Club means that we are helping to spread Awareness and are making a difference. I know how blessed we are that Cooper has come so far with the proper support and help of his amazing therapist. To us raising money and awareness about childhood apraxia of speech allows us to contribute to the support of other families who are just beginning their journey.

 

Cooper and his family attended the 2019 Hershey Walk for Apraxia, and fundraised over $1,000 to be a member of the Champions Club. Apraxia Kids is grateful to “Cooper’s All Stars” for helping to continue our mission of strengthening the support systems in the lives of children with apraxia of speech. Thank you to Cooper and his family for sharing their story of hope.

Cooper was a happy, healthy baby.  However, he did not babble or coo, constantly over stuffed his mouth with food, groped with his mouth and tongue, and had little to no words when it came time for him to “talk”. Before I even realized something wasn’t quite right, I started teaching him sign language just for fun, but he didn’t catch on nor seem interested. We pushed on and eventually he picked up a few signs like please, thank you, more, all done, milk and a few others, but he also began to make high pitched shrills and lots of grunts when he wanted something.  So I would sign with him and say things like, “oh you want more milk,” and he would shake his head yes or no.

Many people said to me things like: he’s just a late talker, it’s a boy thing, his big sister talks for him, or he doesn’t talk because we give him what he wants.  All of which were far from the truth!  We worked so hard to help him find his words and he started saying “ma” for mama, “A” for our dog Ace, and he even said “Nana” a few times before completely losing the word. When he was almost 20-month-old, I contacted our local early intervention program and asked for him to be evaluated for speech.  An evaluator came to our house and Cooper passed his first evaluation – which was an overall evaluation for cognitive abilities, fine and gross motor skills, and expressive and receptive language.  We were told while he did have expressive language delays, that he scored high enough in the other areas that he did not qualify for intervention and that they could come back in a few months to reevaluate.

Eventually he did receive therapy, but it wasn’t always easy.  Therapy was hard work and sometimes Cooper would throw epic fits to get out it.  It was quite the battle, but eventually we found the right therapy schedule and he began to show very slow (i’m talking like a snail’s pace) improvement.  I knew in my heart that something wasn’t quite right and this was just not a “typical speech delay”. I began to research and turned to our local Children’s Hospital to have him further evaluated by someone who specialized in apraxia.

The evaluation conclude, that without a doubt, our son had apraxia. While I was heartbroken to know that there was something truly wrong, I was happy to know we had a starting point to our journey and felt we were headed in the right direction.

Now, almost five years later, Cooper is in third grade. He still receives private speech therapy and occupational therapy, plus he receives speech therapy at school twice a week.  With the right support and hard work, he has made amazing strides since his diagnosis in October 2014. He has never once let apraxia stop him from doing anything.

In honor of our son, we participated in our fifth Walk for Apraxia during summer 2019.  Each year, we have worked hard using different methods of advocacy and fund raising to raise awareness about childhood apraxia of speech.  Each year I am blown away when we arrive at the walk and I see Cooper’s smile as he whispers to me, “Mama, you know they do ALL of this for me and kids just like me!” and I smile and say, “I know baby, that’s because you are all such rock-stars, work so very hard, and deserve all of this!”

Furthermore, raising over $1000 and being part of the Walk for Apraxia Champions Club means that we are helping to spread Awareness and are making a difference. I know how blessed we are that Cooper has come so far with the proper support and help of his amazing therapist. To us raising money and awareness about childhood apraxia of speech allows us to contribute to the support of other families who are just beginning their journey.

 

Cooper and his family attended the 2019 Hershey Walk for Apraxia, and fundraised over $1,000 to be a member of the Champions Club. Apraxia Kids is grateful to “Cooper’s All Stars” for helping to continue our mission of strengthening the support systems in the lives of children with apraxia of speech. Thank you to Cooper and his family for sharing their story of hope.



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