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Speech therapy at Kenny Kids gets toddlers talking
Parents anxiously await a baby's first words, and are thrilled to hear them chatter away as toddlers. But Brandt Munson's vocabulary never exploded the way a typical toddler's does. At 2 ½ years old, he would grunt, point or use one of the eight simple words he could say.
Brandt Munson works with Speech Therapist Liza Schwartz at Kenny Kids, part of Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute – New Ulm. With therapy, Brandt has progressed from speaking only single words to sentences as long as eight to 10 words.
"I wasn't really concerned," said Janelle Munson, Brandt's mom, who has two older children. "I just thought he would talk in his own time." But she filled out a questionnaire sent by the county, and the evaluator said she thought he might have a condition called childhood apraxia of speech. In this condition the mouth and tongue aren't able to form sounds and words needed in order to speak.
Brandt started speech therapy with the county's developmental intervention program and the Kenny Kids program in March 2011. Kenny Kids, a part of the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute (SKRI) – New Ulm, offers occupational, speech and physical therapy to children with various needs and conditions. With therapy, Brandt's speech has steadily improved.
Early intervention means better success
"When I first met Brandt, he was only able to speak single words," said Liza Schwartz, a speech-language pathologist and Brandt's speech therapist. Brandt just turned 4 and now his speech is taking off. "He can now speak in sentences as long as eight to 10 words, and can successfully grouping certain words together into phrases. Brandt has limitless potential and a strong capability to improve much beyond the level he is currently communicating at," added Schwartz.
Early treatment for disorders like apraxia is very important. "Similar to many other learning processes throughout life, the ability to adapt to a new or different way of completing a task tends to be less difficult in our earlier years. As a result, there is less of a plateau to the limits and goals of speech that can be reached," said Schwartz.
Brandt is a good example of why it's important to treat childhood speech disorders early. "I do believe he will be able to achieve all of the long-term goals I have established for him. Had Janelle not come to us so early, the goals set for Brandt and the therapy itself would have been different and more difficult," said Schwartz.
Fun and learning go hand in hand
Schwartz believes that building trust with her patients, including Brandt, helps the kids achieve better results. She designs therapy regimens to "allow the child to have fun but learn at the same time," said Schwartz. “Both Brandt and I have developed that trust so he knows what to expect when coming into therapy. Brandt has an incredible eagerness to learn and has such a wonderful personality.”
Schwartz works with Brandt to not only help him strengthen different structures in the mouth, but become more aware of them. She will have him practice making sounds over and over again and show him how to form these sounds and eventually words. With therapy, Brandt is better able to communicate. That has also helped him develop socially, said his mom.
Speech doesn't always come naturally to everyone. By reaching out to Kenny Kids, Brandt got the help he needed. "I can understand him better, and he's not as frustrated because he can get his words out," said Janelle. Improved speech is also helping Brandt to slowly overcome his shyness with new friends at school and in the neighborhood.
Janelle said she's grateful to Schwartz and Kenny Kids for helping Brandt. "I've wondered, without Kenny kids would my child talk?" Now, Janelle can't even count how many words Brandt says and is constantly amazed by the lengthy sentences he can use. "It's nice to have people in the community who can help your kids when they need it," added Janelle.
For more information about Kenny Kids, please call 507-217-5173.