Kingston town crier holds special proclamation Sunday for children with rare speech disorder

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WATCH: Kingston's town crier held a special proclamation in honour of Childhood Apraxia Awareness Month. His grand-daughter has the speech disorder- he and the ambassador for "Apraxia Kids" say that it's important to bring more attention to apraxia, so that more resources can become available to help children resolve, or cope with it – May 9, 2021

May is childhood Apraxia month, but many still don’t know about this rare disorder that impacts children’s speech.

Chris Whyman has been Kingston’s town crier for over 30 years, and while his call introduced the city to many events and causes, this childhood apraxia proclamation comes from his heart.

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“My granddaughter Leah was diagnosed with apraxia, never had heard of it myself,” Whyman said.

Angela Muis, the ambassador for “Apraxia Kids,” says that children with this disorder have difficulty making accurate movements when speaking. Their tongue, lips, and jaw don’t form words properly, which causes them to struggle.

“A lack of appropriate speech therapy intervention may impact not only communication but also individual outcomes in education, and mental health,” Whyman bellowed from the steps of city hall Sunday afternoon.

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In order for children to correct their speech, they have to learn how to move their mouth in ways that form words easily and at a natural pace. Muis says that this form of speech therapy isn’t always as accessible as it should be.

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“Overwhelmingly, children with apraxia of speech are drastically under-served and they’re not able to get the speech therapy that they need in order to speak,” she said.

The ambassador said that her son had the speech disorder and resolved it after hundreds of hours of speech therapy, plus at-home practice.

“It was an incredible journey learning how to speak. The biggest example I can give you is that before he could say the word ‘hi’ on his own, we practiced it together 1,500 times. So it’s an intense, very long [journey for] children to learn how to speak,” Muis said.

Both Whyman and Muis say it’s important to bring awareness to apraxia. The ambassador shares resources, though she says they are limited in this country.

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“There’s a Facebook group called ‘Apraxia Kids Canada,’ and it really is Canada’s only resource right now. But we do have a wonderful resource about apraxia in general, and it would be ‘'” said Muis.

The symptoms in children can range from mild to severe, and though it can be resolved with persistence and patience, it also may stick with children throughout their lives.

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