Speech Therapy and Feeding Issues.
I was surprised to learn early on in the school year that Apollo qualifies for speech therapy. I wasn’t surprised he needs it, he can’t pronounce his f’s or v’s or g’s or k’s. I was surprised because when Tucker was in first grade, at the same school, I was told he didn’t (or maybe wouldn’t) qualify until age 8…I suppose I just assumed that eight was the magic number. I was thrilled to learn Apollo qualified. I’d already spent enough hours googling things like “how to teach the ‘f’ sound” with no luck. I was quite excited to learn he would be getting help right away, at age five. We had our parent-teacher conferences last week and Apollo’s first IEP meeting. I was shocked to learn that he was assessed as having “significant speech/language impairment”. Shocked because he talks a lot, in full sentences about intelligent subjects. Apollo was actually an early talker. The SLP (speech and language pathologist) has no concerns with grammar or syntax, just pronunciation.
When Apollo was in feeding therapy in 2013 it was run in a speech therapy clinic by SLP. Several of the kids had severe sensory issues and could barely handle having anything in their mouths. Before the “breakfast” part of his therapy, they always warmed up with some sensory exercises inside their mouths. At his point, Apollo had had his g-tube for nearly a year and was eating very little by mouth. Our biggest goal was just he took some food in orally everyday…no matter what that food was. We were determined that he not lose his ability or desire to eat orally.
And we were successful.
While talking to the SPL at school, however, I started thinking about the cumulative minutes and then hours and then days Apollo has spent eating through his feeding tube, not using his mouth muscles at all. While I think this very likely explains some of his articulation errors it also made me realize…
If his mouth muscles are weaker than other five-year-olds…
because he’s had less time to exercise them…
and this is affecting his speech….
perhaps his underdeveloped oral muscles are also affecting his ability to eat.
Removing the large diverticulum after his first heart surgery, allowed Apollo to get food down his esophagus.
Removing his tonsils last year, allowed him to get food down his throat.
Perhaps exercising those oral muscles in speech therapy will allow him to chew and swallow food better.