P.O. Box 8524, Port St. Lucie, Florida 34952 help@cherab.org 772-335-5135

Letter to Lisa Geng about the Beginnings of Cherab

Lisa,

I am glad to hear from you. I have been following the web site you set up and wanted to tell you how impressed I am with how you are doing. I think you are providing valuable information to families with children who need education about apraxia and its treatment. I am happily surprised to see the help you have enlisted, i.e. Children’s Specialized Hospital, therapists, doctors, toy companies. You have certainly taken the skills you use in the work place and gifted them to Apraxia Outreach in New Jersey. I think you are doing a wonderful job! Thank you for making so much for others out of a small beginning.

As for our beginning, I must tell you that for the same reasons you have jumped into the helping mode for your son, Tanner, I jumped for our daughter, Anne. Her son, Zane, was 2 1/2 years old, not talking and unable to socialize with his peers. Anne was beside herself wondering what to do, how to help him and who to turn to. We enlisted the help of the Special Needs Unit at our local hospital, interviewed Speech Therapists and Occupational Therapy Therapists. Once decisions had been made and therapy started for our grandson, my goal was to help our daughter find other parents who were experiencing similar speech problems with their children. As the grandma, I saw our grandchild getting help, but was sad that our daughter was alone. I needed to find a way to help.

I asked Zane’s Speech Therapist if I could start a parent’s group. We discussed the issues involved with Apraxia, and she came up with a list of parents whose children had the same or similar diagnosis. The first meetings were held at the therapist’s home. We provided a snack, she provided a safe place for our first meetings. Later, we began to meet in each other’s homes.

After a few months, we realized there were more parents in our area who might be interested in a group. When we decided to open the group to people we might not know, I decided we should meet in a public place rather than in our homes. I arranged with our borough Community Center that we could meet there for one night per month. We asked our children’s therapists to be our speakers. We asked the school personnel to talk to us. We talked to each other. Whatever the parents were asking about, we tried to schedule the information for a future meeting. We met for special activities.

…One month a picnic at a county park that had a working farm, another time a picnic at the community center. We did not have anyone to watch the children that were brought to the meetings because we never collected any money from the parents. I covered any costs of the meetings. I listed our meeting times in the free section of our local newspaper. I made a newsletter each month, mailing to parents who had come to the meetings, local therapists, hospitals and community centers.

Our grandson was released from OT and Speech Therapy, unclassified at the Public School and I decided to stop arranging meetings, etc. Through the newsletter, I asked for someone in our community who wanted to lead the group to step forward. You stepped and now you are running! Thanks to you, many families will be better equipped to help themselves and their children overcome Apraxia. My best to you and all who help you. You are
the best!

Kathryn Rickard

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