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Opening Up the World with Speech Therapy

Nearly 1 in 12 children in the U.S. are dealing with some form of speech disorder, which can have a severe impact on their development. The impact of a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) can be nothing short of miraculous.

“I don’t know what I would have done without the two speech therapists who worked with my son,” says Beverly, mother of Cooper. “They have made a huge difference in both our lives.”

Cooper’s story

Cooper was diagnosed with autism at a young age and was completely no-verbal. “We had started early intervention,” notes Beverly. “That allowed for a speech therapist to come out to the house. We were looking for someone who knew sign language and who used the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), and that led us to Pam Drennen.”

Drennen is director of clinical services speech at Kidmunicate, a leading pediatric speech therapy organization. Kidmunicate offers a wide range of speech therapy services via teletherapy and in-home sessions. “PECS is a type of augmentative communication” using pictures Drennen says. “It promotes interaction between people instead of devices.”

After about a year working with Drennen and receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, Cooper spoke his first sentence. “It was mind-blowing. We had wished for this child to speak or make a sound for so long,” says Beverly. “My child did not babble, my child did not make sounds, my child said nothing. And then he said, ‛I see cat’ and he was reading the PECS with Pam, looking at a photo of a cat.”

When Cooper entered Kindergarten, it became clear his needs were changing. Kidmunicate’s staff has a wide range of expertise allowing it to adjust its services as a child develops. “We brought in Sandi Spuhler, M.S., CCC-SLP, a specialist in social communication at Kidmunicate,” notes Drennen.

Spuhler began working with Cooper using a methodology called Social Thinking. “This methodology delves into these unwritten social rules for people who process social information in a different way,” Spouhler says.

Kidmunicate’s website offers support materials for parents of children with speech disorders. Today, Beverly reports that cooper is constantly talking to friends. “He’s learned so much from Pam and Sandi,” she says. Both Drennen and Spuhler agree that the support that Beverly and Cooper’s family offered was key. “Seek out early intervention. It’s proven that kids do better the earlier they get services,” advises Spuhler. “You really have to take the lead and advocate for your child.”

“You need to go with your gut,” Beverly says, but notes that the SPLs who worked with her son made the difference. “Parent advocacy is huge, but I could not have done this on my own.”

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