Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a very challenging and complicated speech disorder in children, making it difficult or impossible for children to accurately produce sounds, syllables and/or words despite having a good understanding of language. Through the awarded grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, CASANA will be able to provide more children with CAS the latest technology to help with speech therapy and to communicate, as well as a unique educational opportunity for their families to learn all about their child’s speech, language, learning, and communication needs.
“We are so appreciative of Highmark’s generous support for two of our very important programs that support children with apraxia of speech and their families,” said Sharon Gretz, M.Ed., Executive Director and Founder of CASANA. “These families struggle constantly to provide critical therapeutic resources for the children, resources that often strap them financially. Highmark’s grant will provide critical resources to these children and families.”
CASANA’s iPads for Apraxia project was initiated in 2011 and to date has provided iPads and protective cases to 115 children with severe apraxia of speech. The use of this mobile technology has not only engaged and motivated children with apraxia of all ages, but its usage has led to increases in the amount of home practice on the children’s speech therapy goals and skills. Equally important, applications on the iPads enable their use as “talkers” or augmentative communication systems as the children continue to practice speaking more clearly. This awarded grant from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will provide iPads and cases for eight children.
Another key provision of the Highmark grant is scholarships for 15 parents to attend the 2013 National Conference on Childhood Apraxia of Speech in Denver, Colorado. This conference is unique among all educational opportunities worldwide in that it brings together parents and professionals over three days to learn about and discuss all aspects of raising a child with apraxia and significant communication issues. Many parents report the event is transformative to their ability to advocate for their child and increase their understanding of their child’s needs.
“Highmark has a longstanding commitment of assisting children in the communities we serve, so it’s a perfect fit for us to support CASANA,” said Mary Anne Papale, Highmark’s director of community affairs. “We are proud to be aligned with an organization that is making a difference in the lives of children.”