Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Six-Month Assessment

Wynn's surgeon has us come in for a speech assessment and check-up every six months, so we went in today to see how our girl's doing.

Though she acted very shy and insisted on sitting on my lap the entire time, she was very good with the speech therapist - talked about the pictures on the cards, repeated words when asked, etc. All went well until the therapist brought out the fancy gizmo - it was black board, kind of shaped like a smile, with microphones on the top and bottom. Wynn was to hold part of the board on her "moustache" and repeat some sounds; then the device would measure how much of the sound was coming through her mouth and how much was being directed up through her nose.

Kinda cool because you got to see little blips on the computer screen that showed the data.
Wynn was not buying it.

The therapist did it.
I did it.
We talked about how silly it was that we were drawing pictures with our noses.
Wynn still wasn't buying it.

We put the thing against her face, and she went completely mute. The therapist even tried to bribe Wynn with assorted candies, but the stubborn little one just said, "No."

The therapist had enough data from the other assessments to tell us that Wynn has good resonance, has made great strides in the last sixth months, and still needs to work on her initial consonants. No big surprises.

We moved to to height and weight - 25 pounds and 35.5" - and then went to meet with the surgeon.

He asked Wynn to repeat a few words and looked in her mouth. Then he asked if she'd seen anyone in speech today. When I told him who, he stepped out in the hall and barked at the nurse to, "Get speech on the phone." I could hear him talking to her about consonant substitutions and initial p's and b's, and I could tell he was not pleased.

He came back in and told me that he's very concerned about Wynn's struggles with initial p and b sounds and the way she substitutes other consonants in their place ("Blue's clues" comes out "glue's clues", and "puppy" sometimes sounds more like "duppy"). He told me that at her age and with the amount of speech services she's been receiving, he'd expect her to be doing better. If she doesn't show great improvement by our appointment in December, she'll need to have another operation.

The surgery would entail taking tissue from the back of her throat and bringing it up over her palate. It takes about half an hour, requires two nights in the hospital, and has a "rough" recovery. Apparently, about 20% of cleft palate kids end up needing this.

As he talked about the surgery, my heart just dropped. All I could picture was how miserable she was after that last operation - how she stood there and cried, drooling blood and holding out her arms in those hideous no-no sleeves. Then I looked over at her in the exam room, happily showing her Dora doll how to do a puzzle, and thought about what a sweet little girl she is. And how much I love her. And how I want to protect her from pain.

So the next six months are going to be all about words that start with p and b. We're going to practice like crazy and hope that her speech issues can be resolved with our efforts instead of with a surgeon's knife.

We know she's made tremendous progress in the last six months, and that makes us hopeful that we can accomplish this very-specific goal in the next six.

Wish us luck.


Holly said...

Lots of great edible things start with p and b. Peanut butter, pancakes, blueberry pie...maybe lots of cooking with Wynn over the summer will be just the ticket.

Jenny, Mike and Paige said...