Our Experience with Speech Therapy
My son is 6 and is a very funny, happy, loving little chap who has overcome or is overcoming many hurdles in his life; heart surgery, speech therapy and hypermobility to name a few.
He was born with a tiny deletion on one of his chromosomes called 22q11 which affects children in different ways, the list of which can be as long as your arm. It was a very frightening time. We didn't know how this would affect him and his development as he got older and the first year of his life was incredibly hard. We spent most of it checking stuff on the list and hoping to be able to rule it out.
This was all whilst getting used to being new parents and coping with heart surgery too.
With 22q11 it's common for children to have speech difficulties and palate abnormalities and it was during a clinic to get his palate checked that I first got introduced to speech therapy. It was a relief to find out that his palate looked good structurally, however, as coordination can be a big struggle with 22q we were told that we'd need to work to ensure those muscles were used and that coordinating them could take quite a bit of practice.
Sounds silly now but I'd never really thought about the fact we had muscles there to help us speak as it's something that comes so easily to most.
Luckily, we met Rebecca who knows a lot about it and our journey with speech therapy took off.
Rebecca explained a lot about the mechanics behind speech, the way children learn and other things you don't even realise and many take for granted. Also things that we can do to help and it turned out we were already doing quite a bit right and it was so reassuring to know that.
I remember Rebecca coming to our house for the first few sessions and thinking it made such a difference getting him used to the sessions in a home environment at first. Every few weeks or so we'd then work with Rebecca and he made such great progress. We started focussing on certain aspects and particular excitement came after weeks of practice, he could pronounce 'mini', such a special moment.
We used his love of cars to play games to help him learn. I really enjoyed helping him and I'm proud of the part I played in his development. We got more reassured with each session and from learning that if he could say certain words then others would naturally come because the sounds were related.
Oz loved going to see Rebecca and I don't think he always realised he was there to work on his speech as he found it fun.
It wasn't all easy and with all the services we were involved with, times were often emotional and sometimes the worry would be overwhelming. Pre-school was looming and posed new worries, especially about how he'd get his needs met if he couldn't communicate them effectively. This was another thing speech therapy helped with. Rebecca worked with pre-school to help them understand the science behind it and how they could help him more. She also helped with his transition into reception and came to his 'my plan'. Having a professional there to back up my requests and often helping me to articulate our family needs made such a difference.
Sometimes you get tired of pushing and it's nice to have someone in your corner and I realised that often my instincts were right.
We've used a lot of services over the past 6 years since he was born and one of the stand out ones for us is speech therapy. His speech is now incredible and if you ask him he can reel off some of the most complicated dinosaur names that even I can't pronounce. I'm getting emotional just thinking about how far he has come and how much one person can make a difference to a family.
If you are considering if speech therapy is worth it then I can't recommend it highly enough.