This Parent Tip of the Week is provided
by Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center
Drusilla Marshal’s daughter, Kassidy, was born pre-mature. At six months old, her beginning speech sounds seemed normal. But by the time Kassidy turned 1 year old, Marshal noticed her daughter’s words were hard to understand. As Marshal’s two older brothers had experienced speech difficulties in their youth, she was no stranger to the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center.
With the help of a speech therapist and the Help Me Grow program, they worked to improve Kassidy’s speech using mouth movement and tongue placement exercises. Kassidy was also enrolled in a Head Start program at Lakeshore Intergenerational School.
CHSC’s pediatric neuropsychologist, Karen Paull, eventually diagnosed Kassidy as having apraxia and aphasia. To address her needs, CHSC provided Kassidy with a “Talker” — a “talking tablet” — or, augmentative/alternative communication (AAC) device that helps children develop cognitive and communication skills.
“The Talker has been a great tool. It helps her find words when she’s trying to communicate with her teachers or classmates,” says Marshal.
Having been referred to Mercer Elementary School, Marshal moved her family to Shaker Heights to ensure her daughter would continue getting speech therapy within the classroom environment. At Mercer, Kassidy gets to work one on one with her teacher and participates in a peer group with children who also have speech challenges.
Over the years, Kassidy’s mom has seen tremendous growth in her daughter’s speech. “She worked hard at learning to form ‘s,’ ‘g’ and ‘ph’ sounds. Setting goals like pronouncing the word ‘elephant’ has been a big help. She used to babble and become frustrated when she couldn’t communicate her needs. Now she’s much more independent and confident.”
Before, she didn’t know how to express herself when she was sick, tired, sad, mad, happy or feeling shy. “Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center’s speech therapists have been amazing. With help from her ‘Talker,’ she now can self-identify, so if she’s tired she knows she needs to sleep,” says Marshal.
Now that Kassidy’s adult teeth have come in she is learning to place her tongue behind her teeth when she talks. Having had her baby teeth removed to help her control her tongue placement, Marshal says, “The new teeth are a new language barrier for Kassidy.”
Yet, through CHSC’s guidance and with the help of technology, Kassidy no longer acts out due to frustration. She’s full of life and loves to play and dance — as all children should. And her friends and classmates that did not have to overcome developmental delays, but who like most young children these days are tech savvy, can fully engage with Kassidy through her “Talker.”