How Babysitting a Child with CAS Helped Me Find My Voice, Too

By Noelle Scolieri, Graduate Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baylor University, Class of 2021

A few summers ago, I was asked to babysit for a family a few days a week for the summer. The parents were looking for someone who had experience with children who had communication disorders, as both of their young children had various communication difficulties. I can honestly say that the experience I had babysitting for this family has forever changed my view on how we communicate with those around us. That summer, and the past few years following that, have led me further down my path toward becoming a speech-language pathologist and have solidified the importance of speaking up for those who can’t.

Right before starting this summer job, I was finishing up my freshman year of college, studying Communication Disorders. I had just finished up an incredibly difficult class that honestly had me questioning if I was cut out for this field or not. I saw my friends in other fields getting internships for the summer in their field and felt like I was falling behind because there were no internships for speech pathology for undergrad students in the summers. Then I met this mom of two sweet little kids who both struggled to communicate. She talked to me about how hard it is seeing her children struggle to talk to her and tell her what they need. She told me she was so glad I was a Communication Disorders major because she knew I would understand, and she could tell I would be patient with her children when they tried to tell me something.

Her oldest daughter had been diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). Up until the day I met her, I did not know very much about CAS. We had briefly touched on it in my Introduction to Communication Disorders course, so I knew the definitions, but there is no way anyone could know how much this disorder impacts families’ lives until you see it for yourself in person. I saw their younger child having more words than their older child. I saw the frustration the young girl had with her desire to communicate, but inability to do so.

I wanted to know more about this speech disorder to be able to communicate better with her while I watched her through the summer. I came home after meeting the family for the first time and began researching more about CAS and tips for helping children with this disorder to communicate and feel heard and understood. The more I researched, the more I wanted to know about it.

Toward the end of the summer, I approached my professor about pursuing an independent study research project about CAS because I just wanted to know more. Over the next year, I worked on this project alongside my professor and David Hammer with the Apraxia-Kids organization. I learned so much about CAS and found that children with CAS are at a “higher risk for literacy related problems” (Gretz, n.d.) Being someone who has always loved reading and having written two children’s books, this fact really struck me. I ended up focusing my research on this specific area of CAS and looked at how Phonological Awareness skills being incorporated into therapy can really help with speech and literacy for children with CAS.

I had the incredible honor to present my findings from this project at the Apraxia-Kids Convention in July, 2019 in Pittsburgh, as well as at the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association’s Meritorious Poster Session in April, 2019. Standing at both of these conventions, speaking to Speech-Language Pathologists and parents of children with CAS was such a great experience. I got to hear first-hand how some of the intervention ideas I had been researching for the past year were helping children with CAS and that their speech pathologists were seeing a difference, seeing their vocabularies grow like crazy.

This research project solidified that this is the field I feel I am meant to work in. I cannot wait to be a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and specialize in CAS so I can use my voice to spread more awareness about CAS and help the families and children with CAS to feel heard. I can’t wait someday to dive more into research on CAS and do more to spread awareness.

A friend of mine showed me a quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” More than anything, children just want to feel heard and know that someone cares and is going to be patient enough to listen. A lot of times, children with CAS feel frustrated because they know what they want to say, they just can’t say it. I saw this first-hand with the little girl I watched. It is difficult for their parents, too, figuring out why their child is struggling to talk.

Over the past two years, it has been such a great experience seeing the work that Apraxia-Kids is doing in this area to help families around the country feel heard. Facebook groups and Walks to raise awareness for CAS help link people all around the country dealing with the same things. It has shown me how important it is having that connection and to feel heard, so people don’t feel alone in what they are going through.

CAS has a special place in my heart. I have a drive to do more to help, to be a voice and spread awareness. I want to help children with CAS feel heard…because every child deserves a voice.

 

More information on Noelle’s project can be found at: https://casandliteracy.wordpress.com/

 

Gretz, S. Literacy and Children with Apraxia of Speech. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. Retrieved from: https://www.apraxia-kids.org/library/literacy-and-children-with-apraxia-of-speech/

By Noelle Scolieri, Graduate Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baylor University, Class of 2021

A few summers ago, I was asked to babysit for a family a few days a week for the summer. The parents were looking for someone who had experience with children who had communication disorders, as both of their young children had various communication difficulties. I can honestly say that the experience I had babysitting for this family has forever changed my view on how we communicate with those around us. That summer, and the past few years following that, have led me further down my path toward becoming a speech-language pathologist and have solidified the importance of speaking up for those who can’t.

Right before starting this summer job, I was finishing up my freshman year of college, studying Communication Disorders. I had just finished up an incredibly difficult class that honestly had me questioning if I was cut out for this field or not. I saw my friends in other fields getting internships for the summer in their field and felt like I was falling behind because there were no internships for speech pathology for undergrad students in the summers. Then I met this mom of two sweet little kids who both struggled to communicate. She talked to me about how hard it is seeing her children struggle to talk to her and tell her what they need. She told me she was so glad I was a Communication Disorders major because she knew I would understand, and she could tell I would be patient with her children when they tried to tell me something.

Her oldest daughter had been diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). Up until the day I met her, I did not know very much about CAS. We had briefly touched on it in my Introduction to Communication Disorders course, so I knew the definitions, but there is no way anyone could know how much this disorder impacts families’ lives until you see it for yourself in person. I saw their younger child having more words than their older child. I saw the frustration the young girl had with her desire to communicate, but inability to do so.

I wanted to know more about this speech disorder to be able to communicate better with her while I watched her through the summer. I came home after meeting the family for the first time and began researching more about CAS and tips for helping children with this disorder to communicate and feel heard and understood. The more I researched, the more I wanted to know about it.

Toward the end of the summer, I approached my professor about pursuing an independent study research project about CAS because I just wanted to know more. Over the next year, I worked on this project alongside my professor and David Hammer with the Apraxia-Kids organization. I learned so much about CAS and found that children with CAS are at a “higher risk for literacy related problems” (Gretz, n.d.) Being someone who has always loved reading and having written two children’s books, this fact really struck me. I ended up focusing my research on this specific area of CAS and looked at how Phonological Awareness skills being incorporated into therapy can really help with speech and literacy for children with CAS.

I had the incredible honor to present my findings from this project at the Apraxia-Kids Convention in July, 2019 in Pittsburgh, as well as at the Pennsylvania Speech and Hearing Association’s Meritorious Poster Session in April, 2019. Standing at both of these conventions, speaking to Speech-Language Pathologists and parents of children with CAS was such a great experience. I got to hear first-hand how some of the intervention ideas I had been researching for the past year were helping children with CAS and that their speech pathologists were seeing a difference, seeing their vocabularies grow like crazy.

This research project solidified that this is the field I feel I am meant to work in. I cannot wait to be a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and specialize in CAS so I can use my voice to spread more awareness about CAS and help the families and children with CAS to feel heard. I can’t wait someday to dive more into research on CAS and do more to spread awareness.

A friend of mine showed me a quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did but people will never forget how you made them feel.” More than anything, children just want to feel heard and know that someone cares and is going to be patient enough to listen. A lot of times, children with CAS feel frustrated because they know what they want to say, they just can’t say it. I saw this first-hand with the little girl I watched. It is difficult for their parents, too, figuring out why their child is struggling to talk.

Over the past two years, it has been such a great experience seeing the work that Apraxia-Kids is doing in this area to help families around the country feel heard. Facebook groups and Walks to raise awareness for CAS help link people all around the country dealing with the same things. It has shown me how important it is having that connection and to feel heard, so people don’t feel alone in what they are going through.

CAS has a special place in my heart. I have a drive to do more to help, to be a voice and spread awareness. I want to help children with CAS feel heard…because every child deserves a voice.

 

More information on Noelle’s project can be found at: https://casandliteracy.wordpress.com/

 

Gretz, S. Literacy and Children with Apraxia of Speech. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. Retrieved from: https://www.apraxia-kids.org/library/literacy-and-children-with-apraxia-of-speech/



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