Ronda Rousey Raises Awareness for Childhood Apraxia of Speech
When most people think of a mixed martial arts athlete like Ronda Rousey, images of her quick right upper cut and strong physique quickly come to mind. However, what may be surprising is that this hard-hitting combatant faced and overcame a motor-speech disorder in her childhood. Childhood Apraxia of Speech, or CAS, is a motor-speech disorder in which a child struggles to make the specific motor movements necessary for intelligible speech. Children with apraxia of speech often know the words they want to say, but their brains have difficulty coordinating the muscle movements of the articulators required to say those words (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association [ASHA], 2015). Rousey’s advocacy could not have come at a better time. According to ASHA (2015), “there is little data on the prevalence of CAS, however, the number of children being diagnosed is on the rise.”
According to a recent blog post written by a mother of a child with CAS, Rousey was encouraged to speak out about her journey after the two met at a book signing. (Read blog post here.) In an effort to encourage her young daughter, the mother questioned Rousey about her experiences, presented her with an informational packet, and asked her to help shed light on the disorder. After the signing, Rousey immediately posted pictures of the pamphlet on her Facebook page with the caption, “Does your kid having trouble speaking? Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of Apraxia and what can be done to help your child find their voice at apraxia-kids.org.” She even discussed her personal experiences in a recent interview. “I love my speech therapist — I thought she was super cool and I didn’t even know I was in speech therapy,” she stated. She then sent a message to kids who are currently fighting CAS, “I’d like to tell any kid struggling with speech that anything can be overcome with hard work regardless of how insurmountable the odds seem.” (Block, 2015)
Awareness about motor-speech disorders such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech is a crucial part of helping families, therapists, children, and other members of society to overcome communication obstacles. ASHA (2015) contends that research shows children suffering from CAS benefit the most when they receive frequent and intensive treatment. Early intervention is also crucial to success, as well as strong support from the home environment. Families are often given strategies to use at home to help augment the professional therapies to ensure optimal success (ASHA, 2015). For those suffering with communication disorders, Rousey’s message is one of encouragement and hope.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015) Childhood
Apraxia of Speech. Retrieved September 6, 2015 from http://www.asha.org/public/speech/disorders/ChildhoodApraxia/
Block, J. (2015, August 11). “Rhonda Rousey’s Encouraging Wordsfor Children with Speech Impediments. The Huffington Post. Retrieved September 6, 2015 from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ronda-rousey-speech-therapy_55c9ffb5e4b0f1cbf1e63226
Smith, L. (2015, August 5). “When We Asked Rhonda Rousey If She Had Apraxia of Speech.” The Mighty. Retrieved September 6, 2015 from http://themighty.com/2015/08/when-we-asked-ronda-rousey-if-she-had1-apraxia-of-speech/