National Apraxia Awareness Day: Learning how to communicate

Today is National Apraxia Awareness Day. Apraxia is a motor speech disorder that doesn't allow the brain and mouth to properly connect to form words and sentences.

Children diagnosed with Verbal Apraxia of Speech are unable to clearly communicate.

Joey Gardo, 4, was diagnosed with Verbal Apraxia of Speech a little over a year ago. His parents knew something wasn't right.

"He would whine or cry because he couldn't get his point across. He couldn't tell us what he wanted, what his needs were," said Sharon and Andrew Gardo, Joey's parents.

Nicole Young-Cline is a speech pathologist at Young Talkers in Surfside Beach. She explains what Apraxia does to those diagnosed with it.

"Problems with the brain; has problems coordinating with body parts to be able to get the speech from the brain to the mouth," said Cline.

Cline says it's frustrating for both the child and parents.

"He knows what he wants to say he just can't form the mouth movements to get his point across," said Andrew.

After weekly sessions, Joey, now almost 5 years old, knows nearly 100 words plus some sign language.

" 'I love you' that sign we've been trying to teach him because he's not able to say the words," said Sharon.

Though communicating is hard for Joey, comprehension is not.

Sharon says he's able to understand everything she says.

"Just because he's not verbal doesn't mean that he doesn't understand. You can still be his friend," said Sharon.

If you have a child under the age of two who has yet to make out any words or sounds, or forgets how to say a word, talk to your pediatrician, who may suggest you see a speech pathologist.

For more information on Apraxia, click here.