Life Lessons

Life Lessons: Apraxia Awareness

Life Lessons: Apraxia Awareness

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - A Lehigh Valley speech therapist is trying to raise awareness about a little known speech problem that impacts children.

She says people need to understand what these kids and their families are going through.

This problem is called Childhood Apraxia of Speech and can be extremely difficult for kids and their families.

Imagine your frustration if you knew what you wanted to say but you just couldn't figure out how to do it.

Four-year-old Jacob Rueske and his brother, five-year-old Ethan, both try their best to work on their speaking skills when they have therapy and the Schnecksville brothers have a lot of it.

Both boys have Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

It's a neurological disorder that makes it difficult to form words.

"So there's a disconnect between what they want to say in their brain. They have a word in mind but then there's a disconnect between the mouth, the lips, the tongue and how they can move their lips to make those sounds," says Heather Hamilton, a Lehigh Valley speech pathologist who works with about a half dozen children in the area with the condition.

Christine Rueske, the boys' mom, has done everything she can to help the boys. She and her husband have taken them to specialists in Hershey and as far away as Detroit.

She remembers when Ethan was first diagnosed at 16 months.

"It was really a devastating blow and I absolutely went through a sense of mourning that my child wasn't going to be developing naturally and he wasn't going to be experiencing things naturally," says Christine.

Therapists say Childhood Apraxia of Speech is difficult on the whole family, including the child.

" I imagine that they're kind of locked. They know what they want to say but they just can't get it out. You often see a child struggle and they get frustrated. They might say a word once and they say it again and it might take a third time before it comes out the way it's supposed to," says Hamilton.

But with the right intervention, many kids can have the problem resolved.

"He actually will be starting kindergarten in the fall and we're really proud and keeping our fingers crossed that socially he fits in well," says Christine.

Hamilton is organizing a walk for children with Apraxia.

This year it will be held on Sunday, September 28th at Lone Lane Park in Allentown.

Learn more information about the 2014 Allentown Walk for Children with Apraxia.

You can also contact: Heather Hamilton via e-mail: or phone: 215-850-7485.

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Allentown, PA 18102




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