I feel like the people who have contacted me about Cooper's story deserve an update.
Cooper is now 7-years-old. He was diagnosed with apraxia almost 4 years ago.
I wish I could tell you that Cooper has made some miraculous recovery. I wish he was 100% healed. I would give just about anything to take away the challenges he faces on a daily basis. I really want him to be a typical walking, talking little boys.
But he's not.
I don't want to scare the hell out of everyone who is reading this hoping to learn more about the disorder and the recovery. But, I also don't want you to be fooled about apraxia.
For Cooper, it's not just about pronunciation. Apraxia impacts language for him entirely. It's also taken a toll on his behavior.
At about the age of 6, Cooper could be understood most of the time. His therapy has now shifted gears towards sentence structure. He often gets the words out of place....For instance; you and I might say "how old are you?" Cooper would say "how old you is?"
I was prepared for Cooper to have reading problems. I knew it would happen. I guess I wasn't sure how extensive the problems might be. Cooper started kindergarten and within the first 10 days....he was placed in a literacy program. We are fortunate enough to have a school district that focuses heavily on reading so he gets help daily. At first, he needed help learning to read. Now he needs help with reading comprehension. He struggles retelling stories and focusing on questions asked.
Only recently did our school district start providing Cooper with occupational therapy. He has always struggled with writing. His little hands just don't do what he wants them to do. I must say....this is an area that I don't stress out over. I figure he can always type anything he needs. When is the last time I wrote anything except my name? I don't remember!
This is Cooper's newest and most challenging hurdle. Cooper oozes with awkwardness in social settings. There's no proof but I truly believe his speech disorder has triggered him to get obsessive about certain things. It's like he needs to have control over something. He focuses on topics he feels comfortable with....like football and sharks. He can't change gears and discuss other things without being told by an adult that "we are done talking about sharks." It sounds a little bit like autism but he's not autistic.
Cooper is also obsessed with winning and cannot accept defeat without tears and insults. He gets downright mean and sometimes, he even tries to convince himself that he did win. He's the kid who calls time out on the soccer field right before a kid on the other team scores a goal.
I wish Cooper had more friends. Thank goodness he has a brother who is close in age to him. The truth is Cooper doesn't really have any friends and not many kids in class like him. He's awkward and selfish. Things I see as "quirky" his classmates think are "weird." He is at an age where his differences are really visible and I fear it will only get worse as he becomes more aware of how other kids feel about him. We are enrolling him in social skills therapy to help him learn how to hold conversations and treat other people.
-Cooper excels at things like soccer and baseball.
-I remember worrying Coop would never learn to ride a bike...but he learned at 6-years-old and rides like a champ.
-Cooper loves people and wants to make friends. I have to believe in my heart that he will learn to make friends, hopefully sooner than later.
MY UNSOLICITED ADVICE FOR PARENTS...
-don't waste your time with "miracle cures." We tried fish oil, nutriiveda, gluten free diets and probiotics. Some worked briefly but all were expensive and barely had any impact. The only thing that really worked for Coop was good old fashioned therapy.
-get your kid into a social skills class early. Cooper has struggled to make and keep friends. I think he struggles to talk and form sentences so he focuses on things he feels comfortable talking about. The only problem...not everyone wants to talk about topics he cares about for extensive amounts of time. I wish I could have spotted this problem earlier.
-fight for therapy in school. As your child gets older, it's critical for them to be getting speech and OT at school because they are so busy after school. Keeping speech and OT appointments is hard when you are trying to get to soccer and baseball too.
-work to keep your kid's confidence up! We do this with soccer and baseball but I've heard martial arts are good too.
-be patient. Apraxia is a slow recovery and it can be really frustrating going for months with no improvement. But every once in a while....you see a huge surge in speech or motor skills and those are days worth celebrating.