Denton Summer Camp Tackles Rare Childhood Speech Disorder

A special summer camp at Texas Woman's University in Denton is helping children overcome a rare speech disorder.

(Published Tuesday, June 5, 2018)

A Denton summer camp is helping North Texas families overcome a rare speech disorder in children.

Childhood apraxia of speech affects only one or two children for every 1,000. For those afflicted, the disorder impacts the ability to speak, and in turn, hurts confidence.

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As rare as the disorder is, camps like one at Texas Woman’s University in Denton are even more rare.

Watching for a room specially set up for parents, Alex Gangstead has a front-row seat to her daughter Ivy’s summer camp. Ivy, who’s 4, has Childhood apraxia, a neurological disorder affecting speech.

“I could understand her 60, 70 percent of the time,” said Gangstead. “But most other people couldn't, and she didn't really want to talk."

The Childhood Apraxia and Motor Planning camp at TWU just started its fifth year. The cost is $250 per child. The cost at a few other similar programs in Texas can run into the thousands.

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“What's happening with the children is that their ability to motor-plan what goes on in their mouth, in order to talk, is broken,” said Laura Moorer, who oversees the camp where children get motor-learning therapy tailored to their needs.

The disorder is rare, and for children with apraxia, speech struggles can lead to other issues.

“A lot of times what happens is they shut down,” said Moorer. “They're not successful and it's very frustrating."

Ivy's in her second year at the camp. Her mom has seen a big difference.

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“She's much more confident,” said Gangstead. “She's not afraid to talk to strangers or new people."

In October, a Walk for Apraxia will be held in Carrollton to raise money for programs like the one at TWU.

For Ivy, coming out of her shell may be the best gift of all.

“It's wonderful,” said Gangstead. “I love seeing her be her bubbly self all the time, and not just for me at home."

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