Young Adults with Apraxia – Mikey Akers

I’m Mikey, I’m 21, and I live with a diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia (what we call apraxia here in the UK). I work as an Early Years Educator in a private nursery but my long-term goal is to support children in school with additional needs. My hobby is football (soccer). I’ve been playing Sunday League football since the age of 7 and I still play now. It’s where I feel most at home as you are not judged in your speaking ability. I have 3 cats, Bump (already named when we got him from a cat rescue 12 years ago), Peppa, and the baby of the cat family, Gizmo. I did a video once and I had Bump on my lap and I believe I spoke the best I’ve ever spoken (on video) due to his calming effect on me. My passion is raising awareness of apraxia and ensuring that those who share my diagnosis (and their families) never feel the loneliness my family and I felt when I was growing up.

I spent 13 years having intensive, specialised speech therapy, finally being discharged from speech and language at 15 years old because my speech was, “as good as it’s going to get.” I can now be understood by everyone I speak to a bit. I do have residual speech sound errors, word retrieval difficulties, and anxiety surrounding my speech. The anxiety is now the hardest thing to live with. It makes speaking to unknown people very difficult. It’s something that I have to fight to overcome on a daily basis.

I am so upfront and open about my diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia. It’s how I advocate for myself and everyone else living with the diagnosis. As soon as people hear me speak, they know that my speech is different somehow. If I’m with my dad people assume that I am hard of hearing, like him. I very quickly tell them it’s apraxia and give them a brief definition of what it is. I use my Facebook page, Mikey’s Wish – Verbal Dyspraxia Awareness, to educate the world and raise awareness if this little known diagnosis.

 

If I could go back and tell my younger self anything about living with apraxia it would be:

“I’m not going to lie, living with a diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia/apraxia is tough. Growing up having to fight for every word. The feelings of frustration when you can’t make yourself understood. The loneliness because no one truly understands what the diagnosis you live with entails. The hours in speech therapy when your peers are having fun. The slow progress with your speech. For some, the struggle in school due to poor literacy skills. The co-occurring diagnoses that can run alongside verbal dyspraxia/apraxia. I could go on but I guess you’re getting the picture.

It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it can be soul destroying at times but I promise you, these feelings are temporary. With hard work, determination, and support, a lot of the struggles that come with verbal dyspraxia/apraxia can be overcome.

Will they go away totally? No, but it will improve. As we grow older we also become more accepting of our diagnosis, we understand it more ourselves, and we find coping strategies.

Verbal dyspraxia/apraxia is a life-long diagnosis that presents itself differently over time and, yes, it’s tough, but so are you!”

 

Finally the two things that I wish people would understand about apraxia is…

  1. Our struggle to speak and verbally express our thoughts and feelings has absolutely no impact on our intelligence.
  2. Apraxia is a life-long diagnosis that evolves and presents itself differently over time. Children with apraxia grow up to become adults with apraxia.

 

Mikey’s Wish – Verbal Dyspraxia Awareness

I’m Mikey, I’m 21, and I live with a diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia (what we call apraxia here in the UK). I work as an Early Years Educator in a private nursery but my long-term goal is to support children in school with additional needs. My hobby is football (soccer). I’ve been playing Sunday League football since the age of 7 and I still play now. It’s where I feel most at home as you are not judged in your speaking ability. I have 3 cats, Bump (already named when we got him from a cat rescue 12 years ago), Peppa, and the baby of the cat family, Gizmo. I did a video once and I had Bump on my lap and I believe I spoke the best I’ve ever spoken (on video) due to his calming effect on me. My passion is raising awareness of apraxia and ensuring that those who share my diagnosis (and their families) never feel the loneliness my family and I felt when I was growing up.

I spent 13 years having intensive, specialised speech therapy, finally being discharged from speech and language at 15 years old because my speech was, “as good as it’s going to get.” I can now be understood by everyone I speak to a bit. I do have residual speech sound errors, word retrieval difficulties, and anxiety surrounding my speech. The anxiety is now the hardest thing to live with. It makes speaking to unknown people very difficult. It’s something that I have to fight to overcome on a daily basis.

I am so upfront and open about my diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia. It’s how I advocate for myself and everyone else living with the diagnosis. As soon as people hear me speak, they know that my speech is different somehow. If I’m with my dad people assume that I am hard of hearing, like him. I very quickly tell them it’s apraxia and give them a brief definition of what it is. I use my Facebook page, Mikey’s Wish – Verbal Dyspraxia Awareness, to educate the world and raise awareness if this little known diagnosis.

 

If I could go back and tell my younger self anything about living with apraxia it would be:

“I’m not going to lie, living with a diagnosis of verbal dyspraxia/apraxia is tough. Growing up having to fight for every word. The feelings of frustration when you can’t make yourself understood. The loneliness because no one truly understands what the diagnosis you live with entails. The hours in speech therapy when your peers are having fun. The slow progress with your speech. For some, the struggle in school due to poor literacy skills. The co-occurring diagnoses that can run alongside verbal dyspraxia/apraxia. I could go on but I guess you’re getting the picture.

It’s hard, it’s frustrating, it can be soul destroying at times but I promise you, these feelings are temporary. With hard work, determination, and support, a lot of the struggles that come with verbal dyspraxia/apraxia can be overcome.

Will they go away totally? No, but it will improve. As we grow older we also become more accepting of our diagnosis, we understand it more ourselves, and we find coping strategies.

Verbal dyspraxia/apraxia is a life-long diagnosis that presents itself differently over time and, yes, it’s tough, but so are you!”

 

Finally the two things that I wish people would understand about apraxia is…

  1. Our struggle to speak and verbally express our thoughts and feelings has absolutely no impact on our intelligence.
  2. Apraxia is a life-long diagnosis that evolves and presents itself differently over time. Children with apraxia grow up to become adults with apraxia.

 

Mikey’s Wish – Verbal Dyspraxia Awareness



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