Audrey is a bright-eyed spunky toddler who lights up a room. Like most children, Audrey’s first words were “Momma” and “Dadda”.
When “Momma” and “Dadda” were the only two words in Audrey’s vocabulary, and she began using them less and less after she turned one, her parents, Kayleen and David LaShelle, were concerned.
At Audrey’s 18 month well-child checkup, Kayleen expressed their concerns about Audrey’s lack of speech to her primary care provider, Dr. Michele Dikkers. Dr. Dikkers confirmed that a child Audrey’s age should be using at least 6 to 10 words consistently and referred her to speech therapy at GMHC for an evaluation.
The purpose of a speech and language evaluation is to determine a child’s strengths and challenges in their skills to communicate effectively with others. The assessment may include: oral motor assessment (how the mouth and face move while speaking), standardized assessment for expressive language (words the child produces), receptive language (what the child understands), speech production (articulation), social skills, and feeding and swallowing abilities.
Speech Pathologist Beth Mescher evaluated Audrey and determined that she had challenges understanding language. Mescher developed a treatment plan and in February 2019, Audrey began weekly speech therapy sessions with Beth to build a foundation for her language skills. Sessions included activities to increase Audrey’s attention span, turn taking skills, pointing, playing, making gestures, and using sign language. After building this foundation, Beth introduced activities to help Audrey model words and to increase her understanding of those words, growing her vocabulary.
Kayleen attended every session.
“It is necessary to have a parent attend each session to learn the specific language building strategies so they can pratice at home,” said Beth Mescher, “this is significant to the success of the child.”
“Beth was great! She recommended toys, and gave us tips for home, and reassured us that Audrey would get caught up,” said Kayleen. “We’re so happy with Audrey’s progress. She’s now pulling five-word sentences together and her vocabulary has increased to over 300 words.”
“After one full year of speech therapy, Audrey has made great gains in meeting developmental milestones and her communication skills continue to improve daily,” reports Beth. “If parents are concerned about a child’s delay in speech, I encourage them to visit with their primary care provider right away. Please don’t “wait and see.” Communication milestones develop quickly during the first years of a child’s life. The earlier children can be assisted in developing language skills if a delay is identified, the quicker they’ll reach their age-appropriate goals.”