I have an almost 3 year old daughter who was recently diagnosed with PDD and verbal apraxia by a developmental pediatrician (we started seeing him in the winter and just got the diagnosis a couple weeks ago). I am a little confused on the verbal apraxia thing... is it common for kids with PDD to have verbal apraxia? What are some recommended web sites or places to get information on verbal apraxia? (There is a ton of stuff on PDD and autism, so not needing more info on that part.)
the diagnosis of PDD can be a scary one, particularly since it is not a narrowly defined condition. It represents a segment of the autistic spectrum where multiple areas of functioning are impaired. The good news is that early diagnosis leading to appropriate therapies can have a significant impact on your daughter's development.
An apraxia or dyspraxia refers to an expressive language disorder in which the child is having trouble with voluntary control over her articulators (i.e. mouth, tounge, lips) to the extent that it negatively impacts her speech. You can read more about this disorder on the American Speech, Language, Hearing Associations' website
ASHA also has excellent articles about speech language therapy, with recommendations for frequency and intensity of treatment, as well as information about which treatments have been shown to be most effective.
Children with PDD tend to have a wide range of difficulties, and it is part of the diagnosis that language is either delayed or developing atypically. Research has shown that one of the most important early interventions for children with PDD is speech language therapy. You can obtain speech therapy through your county's early childhood special education services or privately if you can afford it (and I do suggest you pursue private therapy as well, particularly if your insurance company will reimburse some of the expenses).
Ask your developmental pediatrian to make a written recommendation for how many hours a week your daugher should receive therapy. School systems sometimes give very little or infrequent services, and you may need to advocate to make sure your daugher is getting what she needs.
If you seek services through the public school system, you will be going through the special education eligibility and admissions process. Get familiar with special education law and policy before you attend your first meeting! The websites Learning Disabilities Online (ldonline.org) and The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (www.nichcy.org/) will help you get up to speed to make sure your daughter's needs are met.
Finally, once your daughter has had at least a few months of therapy, I recommend you obtain a developmental psychological assessment for her to guide future services and therapies. She may be eligible for special education preschool. I have a blog posted about developmental testing for children under 5 that tells what this is and how it can help.
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