Ezra is a happy and outgoing two-year-old boy who loves trains, books, bubbles and playing with his three siblings. Recently, while taking part in a language therapy session at the Masonic Children’s Clinic, Ezra made his mother joyful when he said another new word for the first time.
Each word Ezra masters is welcomed with a special level of appreciation by those closest to him because Ezra was born with a hearing impairment. At 12 months old, Ezra had surgery to receive two cochlear implants, special hearing devices that send sound directly to the hearing part of the brain. With this type of technology, Ezra’s parents had planned for Ezra to be a verbal communicator, versus communicating through sign language.
The word that made his mother so happy on that particular day was “down.” Although this word may not seem especially powerful, it was to Ezra because he was using it to play a highly motivating and fun game with the speech/language pathologist (SLP) and his mother. The game involved a parachute that the adults raised up and down over Ezra’s head. Each time the parachute went up and down, Ezra would belly laugh in anticipation. Once the up and down pattern was established, the SLP paused and waited for Ezra to use his words to communicate what he wanted. On this day, Ezra eagerly said, “down” not just once, but several times. His mother couldn’t have been prouder.
Through play and using specialized knowledge about how language develops, speech/language pathologists at the clinic are experts in creating experiences that provide the foundation for learning to communicate. Therapists teach not only the child but their parents how to create these types of language learning situations at home. It is this parent education and collaboration that is just one of the differences that makes the Masonic Children’s Clinic so special and unique.