Curran enters the doors to Heartspring Pediatric Services with a bright smile and a wide-open future. Curran is three years old and brightens the lobby with his vibrant smile twice a week. He has been receiving speech and occupational therapies for almost a year and his mom, Becca, says he is not the same child today as he was then.
When Curran was 12 months old he started walking and seemed to be developing well for his age. At 16 months Becca became concerned with Curran’s speech development. He was not chewing foods and the only three words in his vocabulary were “Mommy, daddy, and yeah”. Becca knew something was wrong, but didn’t know what. He began getting some services and did make progress with chewing. However, over the next year Curran did not make much progress with his speech and language skills. That is when Becca called Heartspring Pediatric Services.
In September of 2009 Curran began preschool and started speech therapy at Heartspring twice a week. Becca recalls an outward change in Curran almost immediately. His speech language skills increased, he became more social, and transitioning was getting easier.
“When Curran first started speech therapy just before his third birthday, his ability to express himself was limited to about three words and lots of crying,” said Molly Murphy, speech-language pathologist. “When he was asked to repeat a word, his response was usually a very effortful repetition of the same syllable five to eight times. Curran was soon diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech.”
Today, Curran has made tremendous gains with his speech skills. He is now using intelligible three to four word sentences to communicate. Throughout the process, Curran’s dedicated parents have significantly contributed to his progress with their daily encouragement, praise, and work. While Curran continues to have significant speech errors that will be addressed in therapy, his verbal communication skills are now allowing his fun personality to shine.
Curran loves school and loves coming to Heartspring for speech language therapy with his therapist Molly Murphy. “Molly is a blessing,” said Becca. “Curran loves Molly and you can tell Molly loves what she does, and her kids.”
Throughout his early years, Becca had other concerns related to Curran’s development. He had difficulty meeting new people and going to new places. He did not engage in typical play activities like other children his age. Using her newfound resources at Heartspring, Becca made appointments with the developmental pediatrician and one of Heartspring’s occupational therapists. “When Curran first came in for an occupational therapy evaluation he was very resistant because he struggled with new people, things, activities and transitioning. But now he smiles, waves, says hi and participates without resistance,” said Teresa Young, occupational therapist. “Even if he does not want to do something he will get to work if you clarify ‘one’ or ‘two times’”. Curran is working toward being an independent dresser and increasing attention to tabletop activities in occupational therapy sessions. He often likes to sit on an air cushion to help him "wiggle while he works." Even though they are “working” there are some activities Curran enjoys. He likes to make MAT MAN and play in the loft. “Curran is a very smart, engaging and fun boy,” Teresa said. ”What a great kid.”
Curran has grown so much in the past 10 months. He is able to ask for things he wants and needs, and the behaviors Becca was concerned about are fading. He no longer has to have control over physical things like his toys and making sure doors are shut. He even has words to express himself. Becca is quick to credit communication as the reason for so many of the positive changes in Curran’s life. “What a powerful tool!”