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Apraxia Research Using the Apraxia-KIDS Listserv

Preliminary Impressions

Pamela Garn-Nunn, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

We downloaded daily postings from the Apraxia-KIDS Listserv from July 1, 1999 to December 31,1999. Anyone who posted to the Listserv was first assigned a permanent number; then all identifying information (e.g., names, location, e-mail addresses) were removed from each message and a hard copy printed out. We kept a separate, confidential master list so that we could always refer to “repeat posters” by the same number. This lets us track trends and themes and still maintain the confidentiality of all Listserv members. To say we underestimated the amount of information we would gather is a GIGANTIC understatement! Even with making copies front-to-back, we have filled several very large notebooks and a full filing cabinet drawer with printouts. As a result, we have barely begun the process of analysis.

We thought you might be interested in some preliminary impressions, based on our review of Listserv postings from JULY ONLY.

Of the 1400+ members on this Listserv, 160 of you made at least one contribution to the Listserv during July. Most often, individuals posted 3 or fewer times during this month (135 members).

Twenty-one members averaged 4 to 6 monthly postings, and the remaining four members contributed 8 or more times.

You asked and answered questions and offered resources, information, and psychological support. We were very impressed by your knowledge and caring in this first month of review!

Some “trends that appeared in July follow;

DIAGNOSIS was a big concern of many members who posted. Families were often confused about the use of the diagnosis, varying descriptive terms (e.g., developmental verbal dyspraxia vs. DAS) and the actual nature of the problem.

Discussion of symptomatology included comparisons of both DAS symptoms and symptoms of concomitant problems. In addition to information specific to DAS diagnosis, you exchanged information on the following:

  • sensory integration dysfunction
  • low tone
  • high tone
  • ADD/HD
  • CAPD
  • dysarthria
  • sleep issues
  • ocular motor apraxia
  • and later learning problems.

The following professionals were mentioned as being involved in diagnosis of different children:

  • developmental pediatrician
  • gastroenterologist
  • OT
  • PT
  • SLP (most often)
  • neurologist.
  • SLPs’ continuing debate regarding the use and name of DAS has clearly affected your understanding of the problem in a variety of ways, and the Listserv helped clarify that debate in July.

TYPES OF TREATMENT also formed a major topic of July postings. A detailed review of the first 14 days of July revealed the following topics mentioned 1-5 times with regard to speech treatment:

  • oral motor practice
  • cueing speech production
  • picture cards
  • auditory bombardment
  • treatment observation
  • anxiety and/or behavioral problems in treatment
  • intelligibility with SLP
  • treatment progress
  • practicing two-word combinations
  • and symbolic play concerns.

Speech treatment issues mentioned more than five times were:

  • use of sign language
  • and sound production techniques.

Other High-frequency treatment-related postings in this two-week period-included

  • phonemic awareness
  • sensory integration dysfunction
  • and use of nutritional supplements such as flaxseed oil and Efalex.

Many of you are intensely involved with your children’s treatment and appear to be an integral part of your children’s progress. We repeatedly noted that you must be knowledgeable about not only speech-language treatment but also with a variety of other problems, which may accompany your children’s speech difficulties.

Concerns about SECURING TREATMENT SERVICES also appeared often in July because your children require intensive treatment over a long period of time; you often have to deal with securing different sources of treatment. Discussions ranged from IEP procedures, goals, and “portability” to private insurance denials. Decisions regarding school placement and availability of services also affected choices for your children in July.

SUPPORT/CHEERS/VENTING also appeared as another “thread” in July. What difference you make for each other!

Overall, results from July have given us insight not only into your children’s speech difficulty but also into the “life effects” of this problem on you and your children. You’re dealing with many areas of concern in addition to DAS and you’re informing the “long haul.

We have MUCH more (five more months of printouts!) analysis to do. Our review of July postings has convinced us that the Listserv is an important source of information, not only for families, but also for clinical SLPs who wish to be maximally effective in working with children and families affected by DAS.