By Debbie Monterrey firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people shape our futures, but I can honestly say I wouldn’t be where I am today if it were not for a speech therapist.
It was 4th grade. I had just transferred to a new school that was fortunate enough to have a full-time speech therapist on staff. I was pulled out into the hallway one day and screened. Diagnosis? Pronounced lisp. Yes, I talked like Cindy Brady.
The diagnosis was actually shocking to me at first, but then answered all kinds of questions that had bugged me for years. Mainly why I got teased a lot by grown-ups (like my dad and uncles) who would always ask me to repeat certain things and then giggle because I “sounded so cute.” It never occurred to my parents that it was a problem that needed attention.
I began speech therapy. By the end of 4th grade, I was lisp-free.
Later, in high school, as I took every speech class the school had to offer and excelled at public speaking, I reflected back on how fortunate I was to have had access to speech therapy.
In college, I got my first job at a radio station (KTUF 93 in Kirksville, MO), and internship in TV (KSDK-TV 5 in St. Louis) and later landed jobs at a string of radio stations. I thought about it more. My radio and TV career would never have happened had I not gotten that early intervention.
Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of children in this country who could really benefit from speech therapy never get it. Perhaps their parents don’t realize it’s a problem or, like mine, assume kids grow out of it. Or maybe there’s just no access to speech therapy, or what’s available is beyond the family’s means to pay.
That speech problem goes from cute to a major stumbling block for many kids who don’t get help. Kids with speech issues are more likely to get bullied, refrain from participating in class, withdraw from people who can’t quite understand them. It can make an otherwise bright child feel stupid and kids who feel stupid often stop trying.
At the Walker Scottish Rite Clinic, they help kids every day become confident, capable speakers. And they do it for families who otherwise would never be able to pay for the services. Success stories are the norm, not the exception.
Of course, there is a waiting list.
If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s speech, do not wait to get that child evaluated. The Walker Scottish Rite Clinic at Maryville University can do the assessment and recommend a course of action.
If you would like to support a worthy cause and seriously change the lives of children in a very concrete way, consider attending the KIDTALK gala on November 12 at the Majorette.
At the KIDTALK Celebration Gala, Pat McGonigle will be your able and affable emcee and I am honorary chair. The Majorette is one of my favorite new event spaces. Please attend if you can!
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