Monday, February 26, 2018

Every bit of speech progress is major

A couple of years ago around this time, I was told by a speech therapist I respected that she didn't see a point in continuing to work with Max on his articulation. She felt that a communication device would serve as his primary means of communication, and noted that he hadn't improved that much in the years he'd gotten therapy at school. I was crushed, but refused to accept it. I pressed for some focus on articulation to continue at school, and it did.

At home, Max's longtime speech therapist has always focused on articulation. And his enunciation and intelligibility continue to evolve. While people still often don't easily understand what he is saying, there are those who have an easier time of it—we joke that they "speak Max." I am not always certain of everything he says, but I've found it easier to understand.

Saturday, the speech therapist came over for her usual morning session. Max wanted to tell her about his impromptu trip to Disney World last weekend with Dave (courtesy of cheap airfare and an Orlando friend who got them park tickets).

"Where'd you stay?" she asked.

"Holiday Inn!" Max answered. I, of course, knew what he was saying and thought it sounded pretty close, but she didn't get it. He repeated himself a couple of times, until finally she did.

So then, she sat down on the couch with Max and got him to enunciate "Hol-i-day Inn." Whenever she does this, whenever Dave or I get Max to do this, we are amazed. Because suddenly, Max sounds amazingly clear. Here, listen:

That D!!! What a D!!! Consonants are a real challenge for Max, but that was one super-clear, beautiful "D." Not to mention, "Holiday Inn." (Background whining by Ben.) One of Max's current favorite phrases has also been helping him with his "d's," along with his "g's."After he returned from Florida, he decided he wanted to move there—so he's officially over moving to Jamaica, and is now constantly discussing Orlando. The entire weekend Max kept telling me, "It's disgusting here!" (As in, it's not warm and sunny and near Disney World.)

When Max was little, I felt constantly anxious about his speech delays. Well, about all of his delays. That feeling ebbed as the years passed, replaced with acceptance and gratitude for the various forms of communication he has. I couldn't have known back then that the progress would never stop, and it hasn't.

After the speech therapy session, Max's pronunciation of "Holiday Inn" was less clear again. I couldn't quite get him to say it as clearly as he had with the therapist, as is often the case. But the potential is so there, as I was reminded on Saturday.

Holiday Inn for the win.


  1. If some of Max's speech ability seems "less" after therapy that is a Cerebral Palsy thing. Mouth muscles will be tired after therapy and tense up tremulously so it can look like the effects of the therapy are slightly reversed but his brain likely got the message. You just have to reinforce new movements. :) Never let them tell you new movements are futile. I have CP for 20 plus years and my brain is still changing.

  2. This is such an encouragement! We just got a speaking device (Tobii) and my biggest fear is that his therapists (and everyone else) would give upon his spoken voice.

  3. My almost-5-year-old son is on the spectrum, and I absolutely know what you mean when you say that early on, you were hyper-focused on the delays, and now it's all about accepting, celebrating, and loving who he is now. I felt like once we had a diagnosis, and then once I realized we were no longer "behind" the curve--we were on a completely different curve altogether--my mindset much improved to focus on being in the moment, and enjoying it. Thanks for sharing this!!!


Thanks for sharing!

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