Moving Past Labels: Addressing Special Needs in Order to Move Forward

. October 1, 2016.
Erin Marsh shares a smile with son Dexter and daughter Camille during family yoga time.
Erin Marsh shares a smile with son Dexter and daughter Camille during family yoga time.

When I pick up our three-year-old son from the fitness center childcare, I frequently hear something along the lines of “Dexter was great again today! He played, helped out and was just overall easy!” As a parent, these positive reports are welcomed.

A year ago, however, this was not the case. When I was pregnant with our second child, the gym had to write an incident report because Dexter hit another girl over the head with a toy and broke the skin. (In his defense, she was taking away his toys and he was still unable to speak, but it was the last straw for me.) That was the moment when I decided to stop taking him to any function with children because it was overwhelming for him and exhausting for me.

Fast-forward a year and things are quite different. Today Dexter uses age-appropriate words and sentence structure, and his behavioral issues have all but disappeared. The high maintenance two-year-old seems like the evil twin of our current little boy. 

Early Intervention

It’s possible that Dexter just outgrew that stage of his life, but the more likely reason for his maturation is the services he received from Help Me Grow, his speech language pathologist (SLP), and recently, Sylvania Schools. We scheduled an evaluation at Help Me Grow when Dex was just over two. They suspected a speech delay, sensory processing disorder, and mild low muscle tone. We knew his speech was lagging and he was more active than most toddlers his age, so when we heard the diagnoses, it all made sense.

Our early intervention developmental specialist from Help Me Grow came over once a week to work with Dex, and the occupational therapist visited once a month. They both gave us seemingly simple tricks to help Dex build muscle tone and address his sensory-seeking needs, and we immediately noticed a difference in his behavior.

After a few weeks of speech therapy, our SLP, Katie Nelson, administered the Kaufman Speech Praxis Test (KSPT). Dexter’s results confirmed what Nelson had already suspected: childhood apraxia of speech (CAS). We were bummed by yet another label, but addressing the other issues had proven so effective that we were anxious to tackle the CAS as well. As Dexter’s speech continued to improve, his sensory-seeking behavior seemed to slowly dissipate.

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Steady Progress

When Dexter turned three, we enrolled him at Northview Preschool, where he is part of the special education program. In just a few short months, Dex blossomed. His speech advanced rapidly, his behavior drastically improved, and he turned into the easy little boy who merits rave reviews from childcare workers and strangers at the store!

Maybe Dexter didn’t need all of that therapy– maybe he would have outgrown all of this on his own– but we believe it all helped make him the awesome little boy he is today. We are so thankful we acted upon our concerns and sought out help. He still has his moments but I now have the pleasure of the world seeing the same sweet little boy that I have always seen.

Need a little help?

If you think your child might be behind on a milestone or could use a little extra help, there are three local resources to look into:

Help Me Grow Early Intervention (Lucas County):
419.725.7194

Family physician/pediatrician:

  • PediatriCare 419.841.6202
  • Franklin Park Pediatrics 419.475.5433
  • Toledo Peds  419.291.2121
  • Rehab Dynamics 419.841.1840