Speech Therapy Has Changed My Daughter’s Life For The Better

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We headed in for our initial playgroup and evaluation. Alicia and I went into a communal play space, and she got to settle in and play with some of the toys while Erin, the speech language pathologist, talked to me about what I was noticing about Alicia’s speech. To my delight (and, I will admit, relief) Erin immediately understood what I was talking about when I said that Alicia was introverted, and said that she had experience modifying her approach accordingly.

 We went through some questions about how Alicia talked. They started with the basics – what were my concerns – and then got into the nitty-gritty: did she know the names of people in the family, could she follow two-part directions, could she tell a story? She even asked about very specific grammar and syntax issues: did Alicia use pronouns? Did she seem to understand the difference between past and present tense?

Then it was time for some one-on-one: Erin sat down with Alicia in a separate space, and they played with a bag of toys, carefully selected to encourage her to say a wide variety of sounds. Alicia had enough time to warm up to Erin that she got comfortable (and even chatty), talking about all sorts of things while Erin jotted notes about errors she was hearing.

 The official result was that Alicia’s language usage was right on par, but her articulations needed some work, likely as a result of her open bite, which allows her tongue to slip forward in her mouth. Would it go away on its own? Possibly, but if it didn’t, Alicia would have two or more years’ worth of bad habits to break. We went home with our first assignment: practice “s” and “f” sounds for about five minutes a day, and see Erin again in two weeks. Fortunately, with a little encouragement in the form of a bottle of bubble fluid, Alicia was happy to practice. It didn’t take long for her to get the gist of what we were trying to do, and while she couldn’t always make the sounds correctly on the first try, she got to be able to do the correct version several times in a row after being prompted.

 Her first longer appointment with Erin was fascinating to watch. Many speech language pathologists use games, both as a reward for practicing a sound (“Say ‘s’ again and then you can take your turn!”) and to encourage the social aspects of language (like taking turns and making eye contact while speaking.)  Erin had noticed how hands-on and high-energy Alicia was, so she brought games that involved lots of action – pick this up, put that here, push this button. And in between each action, they practiced a sound.

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