Troy is a charming and happy 3-year-old with an infectious laugh. His bright eyes and incredible attitude can light up a room. Until recently though, something was missing from the friendly and energetic little boy’s life – words.
Troy’s inability to speak made it very difficult for him to do a number of things, including making friends. His mother shares the following story:
Other kids Troy’s age would attempt to play with him, and gosh did he ever want to play. When they would ask him his name or if he wanted to play, Troy wouldn’t respond. Too many times I heard, “Oh, he’s just a baby.” The other kids would then run off thinking he was too young to play with them. Troy would stand to the side and quietly watch the other kids, unsure of how to involve himself. He looked so sad! After a while he would just come sit with me and cuddle. It broke my heart to see him left out.
In April, Troy’s mother brought him to Beaumont Children’s Hospital for evaluation by the experts in our Pediatric Speech and Language Pathology department. He was diagnosed with severe verbal apraxia – an inability to consistently coordinate the parts of the mouth involved in speech (lips, tongue and lower jaw) to create words and sounds. Troy was also diagnosed with a severe expressive language delay and a moderate receptive language delay.
With financial assistance provided through Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Lions Clubs of Southeast Michigan, Troy began treatment in June. Much of the treatment features a play-based approach that allows Troy to incorporate toys he chooses himself into each session. His favorites so far have been the doll house and barn.
Activities range from therapists playing along with Troy while providing narration and encouraging imitation to more structured activities that involve practicing speech sounds and word approximations. The result is a session packed with opportunities for Troy to practice speech in a variety of circumstances, to express what he wants, and have fun all the way through.
Initially, the process was very frustrating for him. He was unable to express his needs and wants, unable to understand and answer age-appropriate yes/no questions, and he demonstrated a limited ability to produce age-appropriate sounds.
Today, Troy has shown incredible progress in just three months of treatment. He consistently answers basic yes/no questions, labels a variety of objects and is now producing short sentences.
Thanks to the Pediatric Speech and Language Pathology department’s ability to enable families to monitor sessions via real-time monitors or on tape, Troy’s family has been able to witness his progress every step of the way. Their ongoing support in carrying Troy’s lessons from treatment to home has accelerated his improvement, helping him apply what he learns to daily life.
It seems he’s hitting new milestones and impressing both his Beaumont Children’s Hospital therapists and his family every single day.
In the words of Troy’s mother:
My little boy who hardly made a sound produced his first whole sentence last week. New words and combinations of words are popping out of him daily. Nothing melts my heart more than hearing a “love you” out of the boy I wasn’t sure would ever be able to speak. He’s still hard to understand to some people, but all things take time. He plays with other kids at the park now! When the other kids ask him to play, he grins ear to ear and says, “YEAH!”
Troy is an inspiration to us all here at Beaumont Children’s Hospital. We can’t wait to see what he accomplishes (and says) next.