Count me as one who never thought about speech therapy overlapping with my baby – and that is from an early childhood educator who has steered numerous parents to speech therapy over the years. I wasn’t quite aware of the depth of reasons a child might need a speech therapist for. In fact – to put on my proud parent hat for a moment – I was pretty sure we’d mostly hit the jackpot with our child. Myer was good-natured, happy, loved to explore and discover, and was meeting almost all of the developmental milestones early according to the Ages and Stages questionnaires that we would fill out before his pediatrician visits.
Sure he didn’t really like to eat much and was having difficulty transitioning to getting enough calories from solid food, and he didn’t sleep through the night until recently just after he turned two.
But surely those were two things that he’d grow out of on his own when he was ready and we’d just be left with all the wonderful right? Well, not exactly.
This isn’t a horror story. Myer is doing fantastic and he does sleep through the night. The eating took a lot of work though. Our pediatrician couldn’t figure out if he had a tether that might be impacting the range of mobility in his tongue and referred us to a pediatric ENT specialist. The specialist felt there was a slight tether underneath the tongue, but was it enough that he would need surgery to correct that? For that we were referred to a speech therapist who would be able to do a feeding and swallowing study on Myer.
It was a little scary to think about. What’s involved in the study?
What if he does need surgery (yes it was considered minor, but is anything really minor when it comes to your own child…)?
Luckily I happened to know a speech therapist, Julie Liberman, who was able to put my mind at ease about what would be involved. Basically they would just give him some different textures of food to eat and see how he handled it. It turned out that we were lucky; Myer just needed encouragement to keep chewing and some softer foods to work on for a while. He was just getting frustrated eating and spitting the food out before he could chew it thoroughly and swallow it.
Myer is totally fine now. We were able to get reassurance along the way and do all the necessary work to get him to the point where he would eat anything and everything (so long as it’s not a vegetable). I am grateful for that quick conversation I had at work with Julie. She is kind, reassuring, and a wonderful resource. I do hope you can join us and hear her speak this Wednesday during our Babies and Bagels. She is well worth the trip!