May 1, 2020
Today is a celebration! Bubbles, cheering and squeals of laughter fill the house. Today, three-year-old Jonathan said the sound “e"! In the Judy house, every sound is celebrated for Jonathan who has apraxia of speech, which means it is more difficult for him to make sounds that may come naturally to other children.
When Jonathan was between six and nine months old, he was meeting his speech milestones. However, when he was still making the same sounds at 18 months, Victoria knew it was time to seek help from Easterseals’ Children’s Therapy Services.
“We worry about one sound at a time. We celebrate each new sound like a New Year’s celebration,” Victoria says. “We know it is a long road for Jonathan but because of Easterseals he is making all this progress. It is so helpful to have the therapists especially when you go into this with no knowledge of how to help him. We have been blessed through this whole process with all their knowledge.”
May is Better Hearing and Speech month, which seeks to create awareness of communication disorders and the importance of treatment to improve quality of life. Although more than 5 million children in the United States have a speech, language or hearing disorder, parents are often unsure about what to do when they suspect their child may be affected.
Easterseals therapists are helping Jonathan produce more sounds but they have also helped him communicate with sign language, something his parents happily picked up. Recently, Jonathan also received a speech-generating device to help him communicate. Within the first three weeks, not only had he mastered the words programmed in the device but surprised his therapists with new words, like “submarine” and “triceratops.”
“Watching Jonathan work so hard at making sounds and making no progress was disheartening,” Victoria says. “Sign language has been great for Jonathan. He signed to me the other day that he could hear the birds and was able to do that with just one hand while holding mine with his other hand.”
Currently, some Easterseals programs are temporarily suspended due to the Coronavirus, but thankfully Jonathan is receiving Teletherapy at home. He is able to use a combination of his verbal sounds, sign language and his speech device to communicate with his therapist and his family.
“Easterseals has amazing therapists. We can tell they love their jobs. They went above and beyond for our family,” Victoria says. “I tell other parents, it is okay to be optimistic but it’s good to give your child the best chance at life, happiness or speech. If someone is able to help you, take the help. Whatever you need to do to get your kids the help they need, do it. It is important.”
Families with a concern about their child’s speech or feeding development should contact Easterseals for information on acquiring a full evaluation. Easterseals’ has a team of Master’s level, certified and licensed Speech-Language Pathologists who are available to provide services to children of all ages in our locations in Delaware and Maryland’s eastern shore.
A trusted provider of children’s therapy services for more than 65 years, Easterseals Delaware & Maryland’s Eastern Shore specializes in treating children ages birth through eighteen years with a variety of challenges, including developmental delay, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, speech and language delay, feeding and swallowing difficulties and others. Therapy services are provided for children in the home, at daycare centers, or through center-based play groups.