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Parents are the Key to Success

Speech therapy and now what I know of as the field of orofacial myology has always held a special place in my heart and in my life. It was a love affair that extended into decades. It began early on when only I could understand my younger brother. I would ‘interpret’ what he wanted to say and then inform our parents or other adults. This went on until he was 5 years old. We had moved back to Texas the prior year and now it was his turn to start school. Kindergarten! It was his 2 nd week in class with a teacher that had also just begun her career in elementary education. He was told to go outside the classroom and wait for her. Instead, he interpreted that as it was time to go home. He walked home by his five years-old self! Yes, those were the days, and the year was 1975, and children walked home from their neighborhood schools often without adults. Our mom was surprised to find him in the living room when she came out of the kitchen. She called his name, he didn’t turn around. She called his name again, he still didn’t turn around. She walked over to him, put her hand on his shoulder, and called his name. He responded with a smile. She knew then, without a shadow of doubt, that he was not hearing her or anyone else. He was depending on all the visual cues in his environment to make up for his hearing loss. She began advocating for him. She immediately made an appointment with the pediatrician and was referred to the ENT. They confirmed the hearing loss and need for ‘tubes’ as well as both tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. He would require two more sets of ‘tubes’ before his allergies were controlled, eustachian tubes were functioning and hearing was within normal limits. During this era, it was not the routine to screen children for speech or hearing delays in the schools or even in pediatrician offices and especially not in small, rural communities. We’ve come a long way with our early intervention and our diagnostic, and medical advances…it’s sometimes difficult to keep up on what’s the best, evidence based practice for a given problem. And yet, it can be as simple as taking the time to look, listen, and ask the right questions. As parents, you are the best advocate your children will ever have in their life. You have that innate bond with your children from the beginning, that spiritual gift of discernment. In my practice, I believe that parents are the best advocates and teachers. I encourage questions and will take the time to provide the rationale (based on evidence) for a given treatment. So, go ahead…look, listen, and ask away!

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