We share stories from adults living with childhood apraxia of speech. If you would like your story to be featured today, please email us. We are here to celebrate you!
Hello everyone, My name is Jessica Huttinga, I am 22 years old and live in the Netherlands. I have been diagnosed with apraxia since birth. Here in the Netherlands this is called developmental verbal dyspraxia.
The first characteristics where you could already see that something was wrong with me was when I was a baby. I babbled a little, but not as much as another baby. You could see that I understood everything, but I couldn't talk back. When I was a little older you started to notice it more and more. When I was 2 years old I only spoke 10 words and many of those words I spoke in my own language. As a result, communication with my mother was not optimal. Often she did not understand what I meant and this also made me very frustrated and easily angry, which is of course also very understandable. If even your own mother doesn't understand you while she's your first real confidant.
When I was a little older and reached the age of primary school, my mother started to worry. How can a 4 year old child go to primary school with so few words and that even her mother barely understands her. I then had an examination with the speech therapist who quickly concluded that I could have apraxia, since I had almost all the characteristics of this. I got speech therapy form apraxia. There are now many more forms of therapy, but in my time that was not there yet. The best thing about the speech therapy time that I can remember is that we often played games. I always liked playing games and this allowed the speech therapist to often do the exercises in the form of a game, for example memory, live goose board, etc. This made me learn it in a playful way, without me knowing exactly that I was practicing used to be.
In total I have had intensive speech therapy for almost 10 years and I also went to a school for 3 years where the emphasis was on speech / language promotion. This allowed me to develop at my own pace. Since 10 years now I have not been treated. That means that I had reached the level where it will not improve anymore. So you will always hear that I have apraxia, it does not matter in which language I speak. People also often think that I speak with an accent, because I pronounce some letters and words differently than they should. Or they often think I'm deaf or I'm from abroad, when that's not the case at all. This is all because of my apraxia and that's just how I talk.
Growing up with apraxia didn't bother me at all. In the past I didn't even realize that I was different from others and that I often had to do my best. I thought everyone struggled with that. If I couldn't do something well, I would try until I could. In my eyes nothing was impossible. The most important thing is to accept yourself as you are. There comes a time when you realize that you are different and then it is especially important that you accept yourself. For example, you can't just take off your backpack of apraxia and think you don't have it, you will have this for the rest of your life. It is precisely then that it is important that you can handle it.
What I would like to pass on to the parents is: If your child has just been born, then that is of course the most wonderful thing that can happen to you. However, in the long run it is possible that you will notice that the development is not going as it should be. Then of course you have all kinds of questions, but who can answer them? In my case, the speech therapist couldn't even answer the question of what my future could look like. I would say now, it will definitely be fine! It is indeed a very long road that you have to travel, but in the end it will be ok. I always compare it to an ice mountain. Once you've started, there's no turning back. Eventually with long or short roads you will also reach the mountain top. What I will say with it, you must never give up as a parent or as a person with apraxia. Because although you have apraxia, you count too!
You can follow Jessica on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/jessicahuttinga
You can follow Jessica on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/jessicahuttinga/
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Thank you, Jessica, for sharing your story!
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