Staff Report, FOCUS Therapy
This week, FOCUS Therapy was among the many organizations promoting awareness of childhood apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder that typically becomes apparent as a young child is just learning to talk. The condition is often misdiagnosed because it is relatively rare, though our speech therapists in Fort Myers have successfully treated numerous children with this diagnosis.
The 2017 Apraxia Awareness Day was recognized May 14, the fifth year since it was designated by the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA). The motto of the organization is, “Every Child Deserves a Voice.”
We work toward that goal in our own speech therapy program, with the firm belief that it starts with correctly identifying the condition early on, and beginning therapy as soon as possible. Children with apraxia who do not receive early intervention may have great difficulty developing speech that is intelligible – a problem that can lead to struggle in all aspects throughout their lives. This is precisely why Apraxia Awareness Day is so critically important.
FOCUS Therapy is proud to support OneTree.org in its mission to reforest this community and beyond, one tree at a time. The “Trees for Mom” campaign by OneTree is a great local initiative that involves planting trees right here in Southwest Florida. It’s an opportunity to name a tree after a special mom in your life!
Mother’s Day is coming up – just a few days left – and Trees for Mom is a sweet way to honor her with a lasting symbol, and simultaneously make Southwest Florida more beautiful. Each tree is just $12, and OneTree was co-founded by one of our own in the “FOCUS family!”
Our Fort Myers speech therapists, occupational therapists and physical therapists at FOCUS believe in planting the seeds of effective communication, growth and well-being for the next generation. Success is achievable when we aim for steady, long-term solutions and stay the course.
By Jennifer Voltz, MS/ CCC-SLP, Owner/ Founder of FOCUS
As mothers, we know what our children want even before they do. We know when they will be thirsty or hungry, because well, we just know.
But think about it: If we get out a juice box and have the straw already inserted and the first sip taken to make sure it’s not too full – and we hand it to our little one, they never have any need to communicate. We met their needs before they even had to say one word.
One of the ways our speech therapists compel children with speech delays to engage in communication is to resist giving into that need or desire – even when we know exactly what it is.
Parents can employ this same tactic.
Most parents at some point or another question whether their child is properly developing.
“Is that normal?” we ask. “Should I be worried or call someone?”
The need for physical therapy is sometimes obvious, but not always. At FOCUS, our Fort Myers physical therapists for children know a parent’s instincts are usually right. We do offer free screenings to help determine whether we should proceed with an evaluation and possibly services.
Occupational therapists use proven clinical strategies to promote physical and mental well-being and health. A child’s “occupations” can include anything from activities of daily living (basic hygiene, getting dressed, eating, etc.) to education – and yes, playing.
For victims of childhood trauma, these functions may not come easily.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, approximately 1,825 children are abused or neglected in the U.S. every day. In all last year, there were 6.6 million children reportedly abused or neglected in the U.S. – and those are only the instances that were reported to state or local authorities. To us, these are not merely statistics. They are precious individuals who deserve to be surrounded by compassion and support. The proper response to their suffering is not to shy away from it. Rather, it demands action.
Childhood apraxia of speech may be effectively treated in part with sign language. That was the conclusion of a study by researchers at Penn State College of Medicine, who recommended further study and noted the effectiveness of early intervention of numerous pediatric therapies together.
There is a great deal of evidence to show that learning sign language is beneficial for all children – regardless of whether they have a speech delay. Researchers have found when children learn sign language:
- It improves the cognition in typically-developing children;
- It does not impair or prevent communication for children with disabilities;
- It can help both younger and older children develop important language skills.
A recent study published in the journal Pediatrics underscores the importance of early therapy intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Ample previous research shows the sooner children with autism are able to receive services – including behavior therapy (applied behavioral analysis/ ABA), speech therapy and occupational therapy – the better their overall outcomes. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all 18-and-24-month children be screened for autism because intensive early intervention has been found to improve:
- Language Ability
- Social Interaction
Welcome to the FOCUS blog! Our Fort Myers pediatric therapists are looking forward to sharing news, tips, research and inspiration.
We are approaching this as a way to connect with our families and the greater community. Feel free to share these blogs or contact us with questions, concerns or other feedback. If you have ideas for child therapy blog topics, we want to hear those too!
Our goal here is to touch on issues that are of great importance to many of our families. Often, FOCUS sees children and parents who are facing the same kinds of struggles or have similar questions. They are usually curious about a lot of the same things and they also share many similar interests. We encourage you to explore our new site, browse the various blog topics and reach out to us if you want to follow up on any specific topic or issue.
FOCUS is a full-service child therapy clinic offering speech, occupational, physical and (coming soon!) behavior therapy/ applied behavioral analysis. We are privileged to serve children with a wide range of developmental delays and disabilities in Southwest Florida.