Gabriel Walther babbled as a baby, and his speech development was on pace with other children his age. However, at 11 months old, he stopped being verbal. He had multiple ear infections and was referred to Dr. Ed Gonzales, WHC ENT Visiting Specialist. At age two, Dr. Gonzales put tubes in Gabriel’s ears and told Gabriel’s mother, Valerie, that he had quite a bit of fluid in his ears, which may have made sounds seem muffled. Val thought that’s what may have interrupted his speech progress. But when Gabriel turned three, she knew he just wasn’t catching up.
Gabriel met Kayla Berryman, the pediatric speech therapist at Waverly Health Center, in October and was diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech. “To speak, your brain and body follow a series of complicated steps. The brain decides what to say, then comes up with a plan on how to move the lips, teeth, tongue and other face muscles in just the right way to form words. When there is a breakdown in coordinating all of these steps, it may be due to Apraxia of Speech. Children with apraxia of speech are often very difficult to understand, have inconsistent speech, and get frustrated because they can’t say the words they know. With focused and consistent therapy and home programming, most children are able to retrain their brain to overcome their apraxia,” explains Kayla.
“My biggest goal when we started speech therapy was just to lessen Gabriel’s frustration when communicating. He’s such an independent little boy, and we just weren’t able to communicate with one another very effectively – there was a lot of pointing,” said Valerie. When Gabriel started speech therapy, he could say around 50 words well. He now says more than 200. “It’s an impressive improvement. I understand a lot more of what he says now and he’s really picked up an interest in reading, but most importantly, he’s less frustrated,” Valerie commented.
Gabriel meets with Kayla one to two times a week. “He loves Kayla. I sometimes even use her as a motivator to get him out the door in the mornings,” his mom continued.
Kayla also provides activities to work on at home. “Valerie works really hard with him, and that just accelerates his progress,” said Kayla.
Gabriel’s mom added, “We’re celebrating things that most kids celebrate at a lot younger age, but we make it a big deal when he says a new word or counts to ten. It’s so rewarding to see his progress.”
When should you be concerned about your child’s speech? Pediatric Speech Therapy — Red Flags