Much More than Playing with Words – Speech Language Therapy

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Human language can convey our thoughts, our emotions, our desires and our needs. Language can move people to tears, to laughter and to action. We take for granted what takes years for a child to develop. Language is not just the articulation of sounds, but it depends upon an understanding of social structures, the world around us, and a slew of intangible concepts. Human language is amazing, but what happens when some aspect of that complex process breaks down or doesn’t develop as expected?

Every day, at the north end of the TMC Campus, speech-language therapists engage children in activities that develop ability to not only pronounce, but to articulate and communicate their thoughts.

CalebSpeechThe mother of one young patient, Carolynn, explains that the speech-language therapy her child receives opens up a window on his complex development. His development does not neatly fit into the textbook descriptions of child development. Speech-language therapy provides “pieces to the puzzle” as to what is going on in her young child’s brain that can not be uncovered in a singular doctor’s visit. The therapy provides vital information to understanding how both medical professionals and family can support her son. At speech-language therapy, parents and families are provided with strategies to support development.

Millie, a speech-language therapist, works with C., encouraging him to imitate her actions, the noises she makes, the signs she uses. As she does this C. is learning to pay attention, to have eye contact, to use sign language. C’s mother and sister join in, encouraging and praising C’s accomplishments.

Brayden and Brenda

B. and Brenda work on word retrieval, providing starting words, using touch to trigger retrieval. Brenda explains that the boundaries in language can translate into boundaries in daily life, the world and in actions. B’s mother expresses what a difference the therapies have made to B and to his family. Speech-language therapy helps facilitate independence. They switch to working on pronoun use, asking questions, and using whole sentences. Brenda shares that it isn’t just about knowing which pronoun to use, but understanding the concept of ownership.

The power of language, the importance of this work, the need for this expertise to help our children reach their full potential is clear in these sessions. The speech-language therapists work as part of a team of pediatric occupational therapists and physical therapists. The therapy goals for a patient often overlap and the therapists coordinate to reinforce each others’ goals providing a synergy. This close collaboration of therapists in a single location is integral to the strength of the program.

Most insurance policies put a session limit on therapies, like speech-language therapy, that rarely meets the child’s need. The Children’s Miracle Network, with donations from you, helps those whose insurance does not provide sufficient sessions or whose insurance doesn’t cover speech therapy at all (many health insurance policies don’t) to address this crucial developmental need for their children. Funds raised by our local Children’s Miracle Network also help provide specialized equipment, aqua kids and support research.