Finding Cayl’s Voice: an update on Cayl in 1st Grade

Cayl Sturtevant

Cayl Sturtevant

By Jana E. Pye, Editor,

Last May we shared the story of my childhood friend Tammy Sturtevant’s son, Cayl, who struggled to find his voice. They live in Estero, FL, and thanks to the persistence of Tammy and her pediatrician, Cayl was finally diagnosed and was able to not only find his voice, but continues to impress his teachers. and his mother, and me, his adopted auntie, daily!

After printing his story last year, we had several readers contact us that they had taken their children to be tested and are now receiving much needed therapy.

This May 14th, people around the nation will wear blue and white in support of Childhood Apraxia of Speech Awareness Day. The Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA) invites communities worldwide to become aware and educated about the needs, challenges, and abilities of children affected by Apraxia. Apraxia is among the most severe speech and communication problems in children. Affected children have difficulty planning and producing the precise, highly refined and specific series of movements of the tongue, lips, jaw, and palate that are necessary to produce clear, intelligible speech.

Tammy’s update on Cayl is shared once again in hopes it will help other families find their little one’s voice.

My son’s story, shared by Tammy Sturtevant, Estero, FL:

“At 18 months my son’s pediatrician suggested that I contact Early Steps in Lee County, Florida because he was not babbling or attempting to speak. He was unable to eat certain foods due to not being able to chew properly and could not blow bubbles or blow kisses. His pediatrician was concerned. It was because of her that we had an early detection of Apraxia. One of his Speech Language Pathologists in Early Steps suspected he had Apraxia and the prognosis was unknown. My heart sank thinking that my child was never going to find his voice.

Just before his 3rd birthday, he was accepted into full time ESE program at Pinewoods Elementary. In his program he had 90 minutes of speech a week, 30 minutes of OT a week and a very small classroom lead by a very dedicated teacher. I read so much on what to expect on our journey and the key thing that every thing I read was that these kids need a lot of speech therapy. For almost three years, my son had school therapy and then also private therapy of a one on one session three days a week.

Today, my son Cayl is in first grade in a general education class talking in full sentences and is an A student. His dedication to his therapy and hard work has amazed me over the years. He is overcoming a disorder that there is so little that is known about it. I have made it my job to make sure he gets the proper therapy and to change things within the school system to recognize these kids that they can be A students with or without a voice they just might have to learn a different way. Pinewoods has been nothing but supportive over the past 4 years. He got through ESE program his first year and moved on to their Headstart program in a general education setting and was at the top of his class and just continued to strive to be the best he could be. For a little boy who had no words til he was 4 he is truly amazing and my hero.

I want other parents to look for the signs of Apraxia and have it detected early. The earlier the better; even if it is suspected Apraxia, the therapy the do with these kids will help them find their voice. Some children will have to use a device for the rest of their life to express their words, but they can be just as successful as kids that do have a voice.

For the past five years a walk in the Tampa Bay area of is held to raise awareness and funds to support grants, iPads, webinars and more for parents of children with Apraxia. Our motto is Every Child deserves a Voice.”

To contact Tammy Sturtevant, email: Patsrule4

Cayl enjoying finding shells on the beach near their home in Estero, FL.

Cayl enjoying finding shells on the beach near their home in Estero, FL.

“Raising awareness about apraxia is crucial to assuring that affected children and youth throughout the world are provided with the help that they need in order to fully realize their potential. With appropriate speech therapy and the support of family and community, most children with apraxia of speech will become capable verbal communicators. Without appropriate help, that possibility seriously diminishes. This is what is at stake,” says Sharon Gretz, Executive Director of the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America (CASANA).

Proclamations and resolutions are being issued by state level legislative bodies and CASANA is pursuing the placement of a statement acknowledging Apraxia Awareness Day in the Congressional Record again this year. For more information on Apraxia visit:

Author: Jana Pye

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