High School Student Gives Voice to Kids Struggling with Speech

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- A rare speech disorder hasn't stopped a Valley High School junior from chasing her dreams and raising awareness about her struggle with speech.

Reagan Crabtree looks like any high school student, but you can hear a difference. She said, "It's just sometimes people can't understand me. And, I just need to repeat some things."

Mom Kelly Crabtree said, "She was born with apraxia of speech, which affects her speaking."

Reagan's mom took her to a developmental pediatrician when she was a toddler and not talking. That's where she was diagnosed with a disorder that interferes with a child developing clear speech. Mrs. Crabtree said, "She understands everything you say, she just can't speak it."

She started going to speech therapy every day when she was two and a half. Now she goes once a week. Reagan said, "Now I'm just down to the main sounds, like the ‘s’ sound and the ‘ah’ sound."

"She probably didn't speak a full sentence until she was about 9, so she's come a long way,” said Mrs. Crabtree.

She's a junior at Valley High School in West Des Moines. She just started visiting colleges. Her favorite class is math, but she is a self-professed news junkie. "I'm thinking of being a journalist," she said.

Even though Reagan has trouble getting out her words, she has no problem spreading her message. She's a social media queen tweeting her news idols and raising awareness about apraxia. She said, "It's so rare."

May 14th is Apraxia Awareness Day. This is the third year to shed light on a disorder that's often misunderstood, but greatly affects a child's communication. Dad Jeff Crabtree said, "In today's society, people are very judgemental, but if you do take the time to listen to people, to know people, then you can really understand a little more about the individual and not just initial perception."

It’s an obstacle Reagan is overcoming, as she gives a voice to all kids struggling with speech. Today is Apraxia Awareness Day, but supporters will raise funds at a walk in Des Moines on September 26th at Water Works Park. Click here for more information.