Brandon has been diagnosed with Speech Apraxia. This goes beyond simply being a ‘late talker’. To be brief, the wiring between what he wants to say and his oral motorskills are not connecting. To complicate things further, Brandon has very low muscle tone. His gross motorskills have improved vastly with his therapists (Thanks Andi! Thanks Linda!), but his hands - and again, his tounge – are severly impacted by this.
How is He Different?
To the best of our knowledge and experience, Brandon is actually quite a smart little boy. He understands everything you are saying to him (so watch what you are say!). He knows most of his alphabet, loves his numbers and is great with puzzles. He comes up with clever approaches to solving things and has a great sense of humor as well. He also has quite an eye for the young ladies! The two things that are missing is his ability to speak, and a large enough circle of friends who are able to interact with a real two-way language-based “dialog”.
Connecting With Brandon
Don’t worry about connecting with Brandon. He will connect with you! He seems to gravitate to new people almost right away. Our hope is that all who engage with Brandon will help us in our effort to increase his ability to think in sentences and share complete thoughts – not to just to point at objects and pull you to see something. This is an important stage in his development and we need as many people on Team Brandon as possible!
Brandon has been learning sign language at school (Thanks Stephanie!) We have had a number of situations where he intentionally attempts to communicate something to us but do not know the sign he is using. He then shuts down and walks away. This is a horrible experience for both us and him when this happens – and we don’t want this to happen with you in the brief time you get to engage with him!
So does this mean we want you to learn sign language? No. We’re not asking for anything that time-consuming. But we ask that you be familiar with some of Brandon’s more common signs and speech aproximations so you know what he is trying to tell you. Also, by your using some signs as you communicate something with him (e.g. Play ball?), you are reinforcing his ability to use and understand sign language. We are confident that Brandon will be able to speak some day (soon, we pray!), but we need him to think and communicate in complete sentences as much as possible!
A Note to Moms and Dads
At this time (Brandon is 5), children his age are beginning to shut him out. They simply do not know what to make of someone who simply smiles at you and says nothing – which is understandable. Also, it takes him a while with new kids to not be overwhelmed or shy away from them. I will say that I’ve have had great success with Brandon’s interaction with other children by simply grooming them with a few pieces of infomation about Brandon. Once they understand, they play together nicely. Here are a few things that I’ve told children.
“You know how you can talk real well? Brandon cannot talk yet. But he’s almost always happy, is very nice, and will never hurt your feelings! ”
Once that doorway of understanding is open, they typically run around and play together quite nicely. Again, it might take a little while for Brandon to overcome some shyness. And since Brandon is a ‘follower’, it is extra important for him to interact with children his age to learn and model off of the things that he really needs to be doing at his age.