Health & Fitness

Walk for Apraxia in Modesto raises money to help children with speech disorder

Antony Konefat 5yrs, is pictured at Walk for Apraxia in Modesto, Calif. September 29, 2018.
Antony Konefat 5yrs, is pictured at Walk for Apraxia in Modesto, Calif. September 29, 2018. Courtesy of Janell Konefat

A walk in the park to help kids talk.

On Sept. 28, Walk for Apraxia is having its second annual local event in La Loma Park in Modesto. All ages are welcome.

“I’m involved because I’m a parent of a child with childhood apraxia,” said Janell Konefat, organizer of the Modesto walk. Her son, Antony Konefat, was diagnosed at age 3 and has been receiving speech therapy since then. He is now 6 and his speech has improved from about 30% to 75% understandable.

Konefat attributes her son’s improvement to the help he received from the nonprofit organization, Apraxia Kids. Antony received an iPad with a special program to help him communicate, in addition to therapy from a speech therapist in Turlock.

“I coordinated the first walk in Modesto in 2018,” said Konefat. The walk raised $12,000 and she hopes to raise even more this year. Konefat said she lives with her family in La Grange but they have strong ties to Modesto. Her husband, Antony Konefat Jr., owns Yosemite Welding and is a former officer with the Modesto Police Department.

Apraxia Kids estimates that about 18,000 California children are afflicted with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. CAS is a rare disorder of the brain’s ability to plan and organize speech. Generally, the muscles in the lips, jaws and tongue are normal, but they aren’t getting the right signals from the brain to coordinate their actions to deliver intelligible speech. Affected children understand language and usually know what they want to say, but can’t get the words out.

CAS may be identified in toddlers between 18 and 24 months, the time when most toddlers begin using words, but it’s often diagnosed in older children. Kids with CAS may have delays in starting to talk or utter only a few vowel or consonant sounds.

Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend early assessment of children suspected of having a delay in speech or language.

The cause of CAS is not well defined, and many factors, including genetics, may contribute. Children with other medical conditions, such as head trauma, autism or Down Syndrome, may also have CAS. Speech therapy is the only proven treatment; however, finding a skilled speech therapist can be difficult because there are only a few in the area.

The Walk for Apraxia is a nationwide event to raise funds and awareness about the disorder and to help support affected children and their families. The Modesto event will have a DJ, Tri-Tipery food truck, silent auction, magic show and arts & crafts.

Proceeds from the event are used to advance the mission of Apraxia Kids, including research, training professionals, family support groups and services for the children. The fee to participate is $10 for kids younger than 18 and $20 for adults.

“I want to raise funding and to give back to Apraxia Kids,” said Konefat. “They helped give my son a voice. I can never give back enough.”

Additional information about the walk can be found at https://secure.apraxia-kids.org/site/TR?fr_id=2860&pg=entry

This story was produced with financial support from The Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Stanislaus Community Foundation, along with the GroundTruth Project’s Report for America initiative. The Modesto Bee maintains full editorial control of this work.

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