How Speech Therapy Has Impacted My Child: A Parent’s Perspective
For Better Hearing and Speech Month, we are celebrating our speech therapists and their impact on families. Here is one parent’s perspective on how important speech therapy has been for their child. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
At first, I didn’t think there was a problem. I later learned that many parents feel this way because we are told to “wait and see,” “he’ll grow out of it,” or “just give him some time.” I am grateful that I didn’t adopt a wait and see approach with my child because without appropriate intervention, he could have struggled to speak for years. My son was eventually diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and we have learned that these issues would not resolve on their own.
"Jessie is AWESOME! She is very patient and has done some serious progress with my son in very short time!"
— Eldijana Muhovic Karačić
Aaron was born full term. He was happy and healthy. He progressed through his physical milestones without delays. He was not quiet but did not babble like his sister. He produced vocalizations and communicative intent was clear. We didn’t worry when he turned a year old and didn’t have any words. We were told that boys can sometimes take longer to talk. But when he turned 18 months old, he still wasn’t using any words. We decided to ignore the “wait and see” advice and have him evaluated through Babies Can’t Wait, Georgia’s early intervention program.
Aaron’s needs were identified and he began receiving services right away with a special instructor coming to our home once a week to work with the entire family. With these interventions, our baby was able to participate in play routines, follow directions, and participate in daily activities. But, even with these successes he still wasn’t using many words.
Aaron was evaluated by a speech therapist when he was 2.5 years old. That evaluation showed that he had average receptive language skills, meaning he understood almost everything that was said to him. However, his expressive language skills were significantly below average. Therapy started immediately and the therapist came to our home to see him. Jessie was kind, funny, included the family in therapy, and made sure our child enjoyed the activities. She said that she had two main goals in therapy, 1) Make sure the entire family is involved 2) Have fun. If these two things were achieved, progress would be made. She explained that family involvement was important as it helped make a bigger impact on his skills. She broke down activities for us every week and made sure we were comfortable with how to elicit responses from him. In just a few sessions, she had incorporated strategies and his expressive language was improving. Aaron started producing more words and was less frustrated. He was so happy with himself when he produced a word and we understood it! We were thrilled! But, we knew that we still had a lot of work to do.
As I mentioned earlier, we learned that Aaron has Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Our speech therapist helped us understand this motor planning problem. In simple terms CAS means that a child may know what word he wants to say but is unable to make the muscles in his mouth move correctly to produce that word. This is why Aaron had difficulty producing a word the same way each time, why his vowels were distorted, and why he had extraneous mouth movements when trying to talk. These were all signs of CAS that were missed by other professionals.
When Aaron was first diagnosed, we did not understand the impact of CAS or what it could possibly mean for his life. Our speech therapist was able to help us understand the challenges that Aaron faces. She continues to provide therapy to Aaron and we have progressed from using no words to working on sentences. He is answering questions, retelling stories, and having conversations with us! We still have work to do but we are so grateful to know that our speech therapist will be there every step of the way.
Our speech therapist is more than just a speech therapist. She provides us with the information we need to make informed decisions. She designs and teaches us how to use strategies that increase Aaron’s ability to use language. She advocated for him and us when others were quick to brush us off. She provided counseling when we were unsure of Aaron’s future. Quite simply put, she has become part of our family.
If your child is struggling with using language or any of the red flags remind you of your own child, please reach out to us. We provide free phone consultations and will help you determine if speech therapy is appropriate for your child.
"Jessie is such a loving and caring therapist. Her passion for helping her patients and families show every visit. She is open to what works for each patient while being effective and productive. She is responsive and able to adapt to her patient's moods. Speech therapy has never been my son's favorite, and he has been to known to be a bit difficult, but it never slowed Jessie down. She was always so loving and made the sessions fun for him. I would recommend her to anyone looking for a great therapist." – Belinda