Health Check: Portsmouth boy has childhood apraxia - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Health Check: Portsmouth boy has childhood apraxia

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. -

At first glance, you might not suspect anything's wrong with 3-year-old Talan Jenkins.

He loves being outdoors, helping dad in the yard.

But looks can be deceiving. Talan was healthy as a newborn. By the time he was a year old, his parents started noticing delays in his development.

"Talan walked late. He crawled late. He waved bye-bye late," said Talan's mother, Kendra Jenkins.

By the time he was 2 years old, he was tested for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders and was receiving services because of his speech and developmental delays.

Then last year, a speech therapist brought up the possibility Talan had a condition known as apraxia.

"We had absolutely no idea what it was. We'd never heard of it. We felt lost, we felt alone. We were scared," Kendra Jenkins said.

After extensive testing, it turned out Talan did have apraxia, head to toe, which meant his speech was not only affected, so were his motor skills and planning.

Knowing some of the symptoms now, Kendra Jenkins said there were signs.

"He couldn't kiss. He couldn't purse his lips together. He couldn't blow out his birthday candles. He can't keep his right foot on the pedal of a bike. He had a hard time navigating equipment at the playground," Kendra Jenkins said.

Since the diagnosis, Talan's parents work with him daily.

"I just want him to be happy. I want him to feel confident," Kendra Jenkins said.

He has about 20 words now at a time when children should have 1,000 words. One of those words, however, is very special.

"He's just recently saying mama so it took him almost four years to say those words," Kendra Jenkins said. "It's a slow process for him, but we just keep going at it. We work on his letters. We read to him. He does six speech therapy sessions every week."

And since May, Kendra Jenkins has organized a fundraising walk and has started a support group.

"We're there, we're cheering each other on. We're happy when we hear about progress our kids are making and we're there to be a comfort when things aren't going so well," she said.

Jenkins' apraxia support group meets a couple of times each month. About 50 families are involved.

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