We are thrilled to be sharing the very insightful perspective of a Ontario-based parent, Angela Muis who is at the “other side” of her journey with her child with CAS and her suggestions for maximizing therapy services in Ontario. We hope you find them as useful as we did! Please add to the conversation or add your own idea by posting a reply/comment. Let’s work together to create a long list of ideas for families to access more speech therapy in Ontario.
While Ontario’s public speech and language programs differ by municipality, most parents and caregivers in our province find that there is a gap between the amount of therapy offered by public programs and the amount of treatment our children with Childhood Apraxia of Speech would receive under more ideal circumstances. The gap is often too big to fully close and parents are left to do their best with what they can manage to access.
- Get the very most from your public program. Ask lots of questions about what you can access and request what you feel might help. When you can’t advocate for more sessions, see if you can advocate to improve the content of the sessions by requesting, for example, 1:1 or a SLP experienced with apraxia.
- Investigate whether your child might qualify for, and whether it would be appropriate to request additional speech therapy under programs for any co-existing issues your child may have. You might find that your SLP has knowledge in this area or is able to direct you to someone who does.
- Pursue private speech therapy. If you haven’t pursued private speech therapy yet and worry that the cost may be prohibitive, it’s important to know that (a) your SLP can work with a budget that suits your family’s needs; (b) even a little can go a long way with speech therapy – EVERY session helps; (c) there are a few places you can go to seek funds to help you finance speech therapy (so keep reading!)
- Take advantage of any employee health insurance benefits you have. It’s worth taking a peek into your plan because although most plans seem to cover 2-3 speech therapy hours per year, there are some plans that are much more generous. Also consider any Health Care Spending Account dollars you might have. Share this information with your SLP who may be able to help you maximize these funds.
- Talk with your SLP about whether your child might qualify for Canada’s Disability Tax Credit and the Child Disability Benefit. SLPs are able to complete the form and it doesn’t require a formal diagnosis of apraxia but rather the confirmation that the child is “markedly restricted” in his/her ability to speak and that this is expected to persist. You can find more information here. If you run into a SLP who can’t or won’t fill out this form for you, you can reach out to OPPEN CAS or your family doctor for support.
- There are Charities that offer grants some children with apraxia may qualify for. The Elks of Canada have a personal assistance program for children who live in their Lodge communities and Jennifer Ashleigh Children’s Charity also offers financial support to families who qualify for support. Additionally, Apraxia Kids has included Canadian children in their Speech Tablets for Apraxia Program and Canadian parents when offering parent scholarships to their annual conferences.
- If you can find them, apraxia research opportunities can offer excellent assessment and/or therapy to participants. The added benefit is that you get to participate in something that might just make the world a much better place for children with apraxia and that can feel pretty good. We were able to connect with research opportunities through our local children’s hospital, and via a call for participation shared by Apraxia Kids but apraxia research is relatively rare in Canada so keep your eyes open!
- Learn what you can about apraxia! There are excellent articles available at http://www.apraxia-kids.org/ at no cost, as well as reasonably priced webinars. As a parent you are welcome to attend most events and webinars directed at SLPs, just ask the organizer! Having a bit of extra knowledge behind you can be really helpful – a great way to advocate for your child is to be working with the same information your SLP has.
- Home practice! Under the careful guidance of an excellent SLP, home practice offers an excellent opportunity to increase your child’s practice time. Practice is essential so when you cannot meet the amount your child needs within SLP sessions, home practice becomes especially attractive. I am not going to tell you that home practice is always easy but I will say that, from my personal experience, great home programming is possible and it can be very effective… again, the careful guidance of an excellent SLP is necessary – I could never have helped my son achieve any meaningful practice at home without our SLP!
- Communicate with other parents! Local parents of children with apraxia (though you may have to search for them) can be a huge source of information on what local intervention programs and schools have to offer. On Facebook, the “Apraxia-Kids Canada” group discusses Ontario issues from time to time and is also a great place to ask questions. You can also join the mailing list and discussion forums at OPPEN CAS for Ontario based issues and information.
Angela Muis started her journey with apraxia when her son, Huxley, was diagnosed with the speech disorder in 2011. It has been a long and hard road but Huxley’s apraxia is now resolved and along the way, Angela found her calling and is currently completing her Honours Diploma in hopes of becoming a SLP-A/CDA.