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At sportsplex: Apraxia walk gets under way Saturday

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lisa Melancon Webb, (from left) Lee Webb and Jason Webb are busy promoting the Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech, coming up Saturday at the Hansel King Sportsplex. Lee was diagnosed with the disorder three years ago, and he and his family hope to help others like him.

DAILY LEADER / RHONDA DUNAWAY / Lisa Melancon Webb, (from left) Lee Webb and Jason Webb are busy promoting the Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech, coming up Saturday at the Hansel King Sportsplex. Lee was diagnosed with the disorder three years ago, and he and his family hope to help others like him.

The Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech this Saturday at the Hansel King Sportsplex is more than just a fundraiser for children and families who deal with the little-known speech disorder, it’s an opportunity for organizer Lisa Melancon Webb to reach to those who may be struggling with it and going undiagnosed.

Webb said they have around 156 walkers/runners for Saturday. The sports complex is located at 1134 Beltline Drive in Brookhaven, and the walk starts at 10 a.m. Adults and kids can still come early at 8:30 a.m. to register for the walk and run. The charge is $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Webb said there will be other activities on site, such as carnival games and lots of prizes.

Awards will be given out at the end of the walk to the teams and individuals who raised the most money. Webb said the response from the community has been overwhelming, and she hopes the event will help educate the public.

“One of the things I wanted to do this for is educate the public about apraxia and give parents tools for early intervention,” Webb said. Webb explained she and her husband Jason had taken their son Lee, 6, to several doctors with little results.

She said that at age three when most kids are using sentences, Lee still said few words, and she could see his frustration – he seemed to know what he wanted to say, he just couldn’t get the words to come out, she said. Her jumping off point – where she became determined to find an answer – she explained was when Lee said to her one day in complete frustration and resignation, “Never mind.”

It was a heart-breaking moment that set her on a path to an organization called CASANA, Childhood Apraxia Speech Association of North America, an organization that provides education, emotional and financial support for children and families that are dealing with apraxia.

Apraxia is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s “planning” of speech. The pathways from the part of the brain called the temporal lobe that knows what words need to be said, for some reason is short circuited with the parts of the body that say the words like the lips, tongue and jaw. This affects speech development and will in the long run affect reading, writing and learning as well as communication.

Webb explained that the disorder can easily go undiagnosed because there is so little awareness of it, and the solution to overcoming it will involve more than just a speech therapist 30 minutes a day.

“If a child is going to speech and is not showing progress,” she said, “they need to know about this disorder. With apraxia, 30 minutes of speech a day at school is not enough. You have to work with them at home. It has to become a constant way of communicating.”

Webb said that is where CASANA comes in and provides families with the tools and resources they need and the emotional support of other families going through the same thing. She said the funds raised at Saturday’s walk will all go to CASANA for this purpose.

She added that at least 11 families in the Brookhaven area have a child diagnosed with apraxia and that special training and speech therapy is a necessity for the child and the family.

“Every dollar raised goes towards educational research and resources for local families dealing with apraxia,” she said. “My hope with this is that kids can get the right diagnosis and parents can learn about treatment and how to help the child along at home.”

Web said if your child has delayed speech, has lost words previously used, shows frustration when trying to communicate, has few sounds for words, uses elaborate gesturing instead of speech or is not understood by most people, seek out a speech specialist.

To learn more about apraxia visit the website, apraxia-kids.org, or you may contact Webb at (601) 320-8925, or email her at lisajowebb@gmail.com.