Why We Need Speech Therapy for Kids?
Binge thinking time is here again. This week, I have been thinking about the recent movement to cut Medicaid Therapy Rates in Texas. As many of you know, my wife is a Speech Language Pathologist helping children with their speech in their homes. The clientele she sees are paid from this program.
What you might not know about me is that I too have a speech impediment. I have had it my whole life. When I was younger, I had a series of severe ear infections that truly prohibited me from hearing the sounds necessary to learn how to speak. I simply could not hear the sounds well enough to repeat them back to people. My mother was very protective of me so I didn’t even realize I had an issue with it until I was in Kindergarten and kids started to tease me for talking funny. There was some that liked me enough that they overlooked it and just decided I was from Japan and had a heavy accent. Kindergarten was the first and last grade in elementary school that I was able to even interact with kids. You see, after Kindergarten, the kids turned nasty.
I was so isolated in school. No one could understand me and we all know how cruel children can be. I was basically the first choice for every bully because I talked “so funny.” I quickly went inside myself and didn’t talk. My goal everyday was to blend into the room and not be noticed. To say the least, I turned into a very shy kid. I only talked to people who I knew, which amounted to about two kids on my block and my brother, who didn’t care that I sounded funny when I talked.
I had one saving grace in elementary school that I credit for getting me to where I am today. I had speech therapy!
Once they realized that I was not being understood because of a speech problem, I started to see a speech teacher three times a week. I remember being told that I had trouble with most vowel sounds and about seven consonants. I remember my first speech teacher made each of my fingers a sound and we told stories about each finger, saying the sounds over and over. Gradually, I was able to figure out how to make the proper sounds even though I could not hear any real difference in what I was saying. My speech teachers showed me how to do it. As the years wore on, I was finally dismissed from speech in the sixth grade when I had mastered the last sound, the R sound.
Junior High School and High School for me was pretty typical of most teenagers. It had its ups and downs, but at least I could talk to people without worrying about them making fun of the way I sounded. I owed it all to my speech teachers in elementary school.
I think this is where the disconnect exists for the lawmakers and bureaucrats in Austin. To them, speech is a minor issue that does not need to be addressed like some other health issues. They are dead wrong. Speech has a direct connection for most kids to their own feelings of self-worth. Imagine, if you could not be understood by anyone around you. It is a traumatic experience and very frustrating. Self-esteem is a hugely important to the success of any individual and not being able to communicate effectively with others contributes very quickly to a child’s well-being.
Lawmakers need to wake up! Without my speech teachers, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I love speaking in public and being in front of people, something I would have never thought of doing when no one could understand what I was saying. My self-confidence stems directly from being treated by those fine ladies thirty plus years ago. Don’t the lawmakers think kids today deserve to grow up with a healthy attitude about life, society and especially themselves. Let’s not take away this away from these kids.
If you want to help, sign the change.org petition here and let’s make the lawmakers hear our voice about these services for these kids.