While most children almost miraculously learn to speak without effort, children with apraxia struggle mightily to accurately produce sounds, syllables and words. While their understanding of language is usually much better than their ability to express it, children with apraxia have difficulty planning and programming the movements which underlie speech. At the heart of it, speech is more than knowing what you want to say. Rapid and finely graded movements of speech structures (the lips, tongue, palate and jaw, etc.) occur which allow us to clearly articulate our ideas. But for children with apraxia, ideas are often stuck inside, unspoken or not understood, because of apraxia. Childhood Apraxia of Speech is considered rare among speech disorders in children and particularly challenging to overcome.
Each year a growing number of families, friends and supporters of children with apraxia thousands of them come together at towns and cities throughout North America to participate in the Walk for Apraxia. While the walk is a tremendous avenue to raise awareness about apraxia and raise critical funds for programs and research, it is also so much more. At its heart, the Walk for Apraxia is about the children. Walk day is a chance to celebrate the efforts, persistence, and resilience of children with apraxia. On their special day, children with apraxia get a chance to shine brightly - our shining stars. Many of them do not have the opportunity in other activities to be held up for their accomplishments, but on their Walk for Apraxia day? Well, these children are proudly front and center! Finally, the Walk for Apraxia is a reminder to not only the kids, but also to their families, that they are not alone. At the walk, relatives, friends, neighbors, co-workers and community members surround them, creating connection and a web of support.
Individuals and teams fundraise as part of the Walk for Apraxia because they want to join CASANA's mission and its current and future efforts to help children with apraxia to have a voice. What we know is:
This is why we fundraise. As the only national nonprofit organization totally dedicated to the needs and interests of children with apraxia and their families, CASANA is able to offer programs in key areas only because of that fundraising help.
Information, Awareness, Support — These three ingredients - information, awareness, and support - are cornerstones in the cause. Each year, in your very own community and in others, children are newly diagnosed with apraxia. Parents and families are concerned, confused, and afraid. Where can those friends and neighbors turn to be sure they are getting the most up to date, reliable, and accurate information to help their child? What resource is recommended to families by professionals? They turn to CASANA and our extensive online informational resources and support.
Freely available through CASANA, parents in your community are able to connect with other families for support and begin to learn the most effective ways to get their child the help they need to become speakers and communicators to have a voice. Additionally, funds are made available to help some families, with limited financial means, to defray the costs of speech therapy for their child. Each year CASANA awards iPads and cases to children through our iPads for Apraxia program in order to support their speech practice and give them a communication outlet. CASANA initiated and continues to spearhead the annual Apraxia Awareness Day each May 14th. Each year, more and more people learn about childhood apraxia of speech. Because of these efforts, proper diagnosis and treatment, as well as increased sensitivity, is spreading.
Apraxia Education & Professional Development — Each year CASANA provides direct training and education to well over 2,000 professionals, parents, and other community members. Both parents and professionals have a full range of educational options that provides them with the latest information on understanding, diagnosing, treating, and living with children with apraxia of speech. CASANA offers online webinars, regional workshops, parent seminars, and an annual national conference in order to further educate. Finally, CASANA also supports professional development to an additional several thousand speech-language professionals each year through presentations at schools, professional association meetings and conventions, and other venues to which we are invited. All of these educational activities are aimed at improving the speech and communication outcomes for children with apraxia in your community and through the country.
Research Support — Because childhood apraxia of speech is considered a somewhat rare speech disorder funding for research is scarce. Each year, with your fundraising help, CASANA provides small research grants, through a competitive grant-making process, to speech scientists who are studying apraxia. Our efforts have particularly focused on research into effective treatments for apraxia. Additionally, we periodically convene gatherings of the world’s top researchers in order to share their research questions and findings, further advancing what is known about the nature and treatment of apraxia. Finally, researchers count on CASANA to share information about studies so that families interesting in helping researchers by enrolling their children in a study have the opportunity to do so.
These are just some of the ways your fundraising is making a difference for kids in your community and throughout the country.