Without boring you will all the details (of which there are many) I will tell you that when he turned three Mike and I could hardly understand what he was saying and that people outside our home never could understand him. When I brought these concerns to our then pediatrician, we were told, without having ever heard Judah speak, that we didn't need to worry about it until he was closer to Kindergarten age.
That didn't sit well with us and we began looking for a new doctor for our kids. While we looked we took Judah to our school district to have him evaluated. They were more helpful, and affirmed that he did have some speech issues, however he scored an 81% on his evaluation and in order to qualify for services he needed to score lower than 78%. I felt stuck - I didn't know how to be an advocate for my son. While Mike was more relaxed about it and hopeful that Judah would grow out of his poor speech patterns, I was increasingly concerned that they would only get worse as he got older and by the time he was in Kindergarten he would be behind before he even started. It took awhile but we found a new pediatrician and when we went in for our first meeting and I asked about Judah he looked me square in the eye and asked,
"Do you think there's an issue?"
"Yes," I said. "I know they said he should be fine, but I really do feel like there's an issue."
"Good enough for me," he replied. "In my years as a doctor I've learned that mom's know a lot more than they are often given credit for. Find a speech therapist and I'll send my referral."
I felt so affirmed as a mom! It felt so good to be listened to and trusted that I did know what was best for my son.
We found a speech therapist not far from our home and while she was doing Judah's evaluation she asked me to look at Judah's mouth. "Notice," she said, "how when he talks his tongue doesn't move? Do you see that he's using his jaw to move his tongue around? That would be the reason for the 'lazy' speech you hear."
"Is that something he would grow out of?" I asked.
She looked at me wide eyed. "No," she replied. "That's something he'll have to work hard to stop doing." Once again, affirmed in the knowledge that I knew my son and what was and was not normal for him, we set ourselves up on a speech plan.
Judah was in speech for nearly a year when his therapist called me into her office before the session and asked me to watch this video of a student using a new device called a palatometer. I (not surprisingly if you know me) burst into tears. Judah's speech had indeed improved since he'd been in therapy, but it was a very slow process. Seeing the video gave me so much hope that Judah wouldn't need to spend years in therapy; that we may only have months left. Without even knowing if our insurance would cover the new device I asked our therapist to sign us up. The video gave me so much hope I didn't care if we had to pay out of pocket; I just knew that it was what we needed.
Since the spring time, Judah has been using the palatometer for his speech therapy sessions. Even with our sporadic schedule, the improvement has been immense. We only have one car, and Brooklyn has also needed some speech help, si there have been some months when Judah was only able to get one therapy session in. And still, he is talking clearly. It seemed to start slowly, but suddenly, people have been having conversations with Judah. And those same people have been saying, "Wow...I understood every word he said."
I wanted to share these Before and After videos his therapist took of him. I am beyond proud of the strides he's made and am so thankful that we were led to his current therapist. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to embed these videos directly into the post so (sorry!) you'll have to check out the speech therapist's website but take a look! Especially if you know someone who's child is having speech difficulty, they need to know about a palatometer and how it can help.
See Judah's Before and After Videos