VALDOSTA – Luke Tarpley is a well-spoken third grader at Scintilla Charter Academy who dreams of being a professional football player.
However, Luke has worked hard to be the boy that he is today.
“Luke was a happy baby and met all the developmental milestones until he was around 18 months,” said Luke’s mother Mary Tarpley. “This was when we asked for a speech and language evaluation. We were told not to worry, but he was our second child and boy.”
Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a specific speech disorder that interferes with a child’s ability to develop clear speech. CAS impairs a child’s ability to plan the movements that are needed for speech. Children with CAS generally have a good understanding of language but have difficulty learning or carrying out the complex movements that underlie speech.
Currently, the only known treatment for apraxia is frequent and appropriate speech therapy over a number of years.
Because of the rarity of CAS, it is often difficult to diagnose, leading Mary to scour the internet in search of someone that could help Luke.
“My searches all pointed to one person: Nancy Kaufman,” Mary said. “She was the creator of the evaluation tool that is used by Speech and Language Pathologists to diagnose CAS.”
Kaufman diagnosed Luke with severe CAS at the age of two and he has been in apraxia specific speech therapy since then. The Tarpley family made trips to Kaufman Children’s Center in West Bloomfield, MI and even spent a summer living in Michigan.
While the traveling certainly wasn’t easy, Luke made the best of it, noting that he enjoyed many of the places he was able to go during the travels.
“There have been huge strides of progress for Luke and, thankfully, at nine years old, communication is no longer the struggle it once was,” Mary said. “The earliest intervention is key. If you suspect there is an issue with your child, please don’t hesitate to ask for help and look for answers.”
In honor of Luke’s fight with CAS, he and his family have met with State Representatives Amy Carter and John LaHood over the years for the proclamation of Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Day. This past Monday, May 14, marked the sixth annual Childhood Apraxia of Speech Day.
“The proclamations have given use a venue to bring awareness to this motor speech disorder,” Mary said.
Luke also mentioned how much he enjoyed being able to receive copies of the proclamation to keep and that they mean a lot of him.
“To be able to communicate effectively with others is fundamental in life. It is the basis of having needs met, being able to express thoughts and feelings. Most importantly, it’s an essential part of making friends,” Mary said. “We are grateful to our church family, our community and the professionals that have all helped us get to the point where I no longer have to worry at night about whether he will be able to communicate his wants and needs and have friends. Luke is an apraxia success story and we are so proud of him.”