The First Scientific Conference Dedicated to the Therapy of Verbal Apraxia/Dyspraxia
7:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m
July 23, 2001,Headquarters Plaza Hotel
Morristown, New Jersey
|How did this Scientific Meeting Come About?
Ms. Lisa Geng, President and founder of the CHERAB Foundation, has been supplementing the regular diet of her son, Tanner, diagnosed with verbal apraxia, with a nutritional supplement containing a mixture of essential fatty acids (EFAs) containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The results of the supplementation have been remarkable in that Tanner started to talk and his speech improved rapidly. After sharing her experience with hundreds of parents through the CHERAB Foundation, many have adopted the EFA supplementation approach and reported improvements in their child's speech. Positive results have also been noted by Marilyn Agin, M.D., a former speech pathologist, and now a clinical developmental pediatrician, Medical Director of New York City's Early Intervention Program, who has a number of EFA-supplemented apraxic children under her supervision. CHERAB Foundation's resident speech pathologist, Lori Roth, M.A., CCC-SLP, who is also supervising apraxic children, has reported similar progress.
Ms. Geng asked Robert Katz, PhD, a Health Scientist Administrator with about 25 years of research program management experience and currently president and co-founder of the Omega-3 Research Institute, Inc. where he initiated and co-organized three international workshops on physiologic effects of omega-3 fatty acids to suggest possible approaches to validating these initial reports. The emergency fact finding workshop described below represents the strategy approved by the CHERAB Foundation.
|Objectives of the Conference
1. To discuss professional anecdotal case reports on positive therapeutic effects of Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) supplementation in children with verbal apraxia.
2. To assess the need for the timeliness of disseminating the presented data to speech pathologists and therapists, pediatricians, developmental pediatricians and pediatric neurologists so that they are aware of this option.
3. If justified, to plan and design clinical studies/trials in order to assess the nature and the magnitude of the potential therapeutic effects.
Scope of the Conference
The conference will be organized in a workshop format and will have a limited audience (about 60-80 invitees). Such a format is most conducive to extensive discussions and frank exchanges of opinions, essential for the fact-finding and evaluation nature of the event and it also requires an atmosphere of objectivity free of external pressures. Bringing the invited panelists together with the parents of the children who were supplemented with EFAs would not have been an ideal background for the deliberations to follow.
Therefore, a decision has been made by the CHERAB Foundation's Organizing Committee to honor the parents who have undertaken EFA supplementation of their children and simultaneously the first scientific meeting devoted in its entirety to the therapy of verbal apraxia/dyspraxia, separately from the scientific panel. The scientific panel members will arrive to the planned evening scientific session from a different location.
What will be Discussed at the Workshop?
The emergency fact-finding workshop will allow participants to discuss the present views on the pathophysiology and diagnosis of verbal apraxia. These discussions should lead to the design of a research protocol to include speech and language assessment tools and behaviour rating scales to measure changes in speech output and intelligibility as well as behaviour (i.e., improved attention), from EFA supplementation.
The possible role of the brain speech centre in verbal apraxia will be discussed in the context of traditional therapeutic interventions in general and EFA supplementation in particular.
The evidence that a percentage of children on the autistic spectrum are displaying signs of verbal apraxia will be discussed, with a consideration of examining this population for the therapeutic effects of EFAs entertained. Consideration will also be given to the possible beneficial effect of EFA supplementation in ADHD. EFA supplementation in newborns will be discussed as models for clinical trials in verbal apraxia.
Workshop panelists will debate the professional anecdotal case reports presented, and if justified, the workshop will conclude with recommendations on ways to alert the medical professionals involved with verbal apraxic children of the existence of this new potential therapeutic intervention. Discussions will cover the type and nature of clinical studies/trials that could be undertaken to validate the reported effects.
In order to ensure a frank and open scientific discussion, attendance will be by invitation only, and the workshop will be closed to the general public. About 15% of the invitees will be parents. No videotaping or closed-circuit TV viewing of the proceedings is planned.