Six months ago Max began going twice a week for speech therapy at a private practice to work on his /r/, /th/, and /sh/ sounds. I wanted to update on his progress. I’m so proud of his hard work!
To give a short background story, as a baby he had fluid in his ears and needed tubes inserted three times before he was five years old. During that important time of language development, it was as if he heard sounds while swimming under water when the fluid was present; so he had many articulation delays. Speech therapy was needed from the time he was a toddler.
Therapists made it fun for him but, man, he worked hard. I remember the day when he was three years old and said his first 9-word sentence. Most of his words were mixed in with gibberish up until that point, so it was an exciting accomplishment.
Max has never shied away from saying whatever was on his mind and just like now, having an audience was a big motivation in therapy. One time he was invited to “read” Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? in front of a crowd of over 75 special education workers. He lit up when they applauded and cheered for him. They gave him the reaction of his dreams and he was only 3 years old!
We’ve been blessed with good therapists (some better than others) through the school system, but after he met certain goals, we stopped going. We took a wait-and-see approach with his /r/ sound and wondered he would “grow out of” the errors in his speech.
Here is a video of how he sounded back then.
He was such a cutie.
Over the years, with gentleness, my wonderful sister-in-law, Jen, urged us to continue therapy in the private sector. I was hoping for the best and, admittedly, reluctant to make the commitment (time and money) to take him, though.
But last summer, after Max got a virus that quickly turned into a serious case of meningoencephalitis, the decision to get him help for speech was an easy one to make. By God’s grace he walked out of that hospital one week later as a healthy 9 year old boy, but I was aware of what this illness could’ve done to his sensory, cognitive and physical abilities.
While in the hospital, I realized and reflected upon the gift that Max is. Not only did I breathe the greatest sigh of relief that he was going to be okay, but I was given a unique opportunity to see when help is asked for, help is received.
Surrounding him were incredible professionals in the medical field trained to help with whatever needs the children at the hospital had. We live in an area of the country (not to mention the world) where therapy services are available for the asking.
Going to speech therapy for articulation seemed like small potatoes compared to what his needs could’ve been. Like tiny, minced potatoes. But it was time to ask for help.
He started in September and went twice a week. Our insurance covered the evaluation (a few hundred dollars) and 30 visits/year with a $30 copay at each session once our deductible was met. Well, we didn’t have any worries about the deductible. A week plus a helicopter ride to the hospital took care of that. 🙂 The copays add up but we have a health savings account that our church funds as part of our benefits. So thankful for that provision.
Max made such great progress. After 6 or so sessions, I took this video of him talking about Hurricane Sandy that came through in October. You can hear how the /r/ sound is beginning to be heard more clearly but this is basically how his speech sounded for a while before this.
And here is a video that I took today. It should not surprise anyone that he is talking about Minecraft. I hope you can hear that although he still makes some errors, there has been quite a remarkable change since late October.
I’ve wanted to share about this for a long time. My heart bursts with pride over this kid. Especially after what happened this summer, I am thankful for each day with him. He’s funny, smart, expressive, witty, loving, kind, and teachable. He teaches me a lot of important things, too.
*in the photo at the top of this post, he’s reading some speech homework out loud to me. The homework was a Mad Libs-style fill-in-the-blank worksheet. He couldn’t stop laughing when he read what his chosen words made the story sound like.
Tryouts are being held today in the flying saucer for the anteater School Choir, which was called a lavender choir by our neighbors in the sewer. Even their janitor said, “Danger!” after our last performance. Do you like to sing and visit places like the shower and the elevator? You’ll meet miniature people. At our last concert, we had a babysitter and a pitcher in our audience…