When our grandson, Drew, began calling me Am at 15 months of age, it was cute. Endearing, in fact. As time went by, however, and his speech didn’t develop as it ought to, we all became concerned. He’s a bright little boy. At 32 months, he can identify all the upper case letters, knows his colours and shapes, and clearly has a great memory and excellent reasoning skills but his speech is almost unintelligible. Yesterday, we found out why.
Melaina cried when she read the diagnosis; severe phonological disorder. It breaks a mother’s heart to learn that there’s something wrong with her child and the name sounds so harsh. This is really the end of one journey and the beginning of another. The road to diagnosis involved three hearing assessments and a speech assessment as well as lots of careful observation and documentation on Melaina and Aaron’s part. After two inconclusive hearing assessments, Drew passed the third with flying colours eliminating that as a possible cause. An appointment with a speech pathologist in early December led to the final diagnosis.
As in Drew’s case, the cause of phonological disorder is often unknown. Children with the disorder substitute, leave off, or change sounds making their speech difficult or impossible to understand. When Drew talks, he drops the first sound or syllable off almost every word. Dog becomes og, book is ook and so on. Though he’s able to produce all of the sounds, he can’t get the words to come out whole. That’s because this is essentially a transmission problem. In simple terms, the message isn’t getting from his brain to his mouth correctly.
Fortunately, most children respond well to intervention and so begins the second journey. Melaina and Aaron will attend a parent session sometime in the next few weeks and then speech therapy will begin. It probably won’t be a quick fix but with lots of hard work, we should begin to see progress. We’re hoping that the fact that Drew was diagnosed at such a young age is in his favour.
I can’t wait to hear him call me Gram!