As their son Weston approached his second birthday, Susannah Thomas and her husband realized the toddler’s speech was not in line with what they had experienced with their other four children.
“Weston had very few words at age 2,” said Susannah. “By the time he was 3, he had more words, but it sounded like he was speaking a different language.”
Susannah met with a speech-language pathologist through the Baker County Public School System, who offered speech therapy for Weston in a group setting. “His speech was so delayed, we felt he needed one-on-one therapy,” said Susannah.
Weston’s pediatrician suggested she make an appointment with a speech language pathologist at the Drew Bradbury Center, the downtown Jacksonville location of Wolfson Children’s Rehabilitation. There, Weston was diagnosed with an articulation disorder, as well as a phonological processing disorder, and the family learned he would need speech and language therapy two times a week.
“A phonological processing disorder involves patterns of sound errors,” explained Judy Hammer-Knisely, MA., CCC-SLP and CCC-A, Weston’s speech-language pathologist. “Children with this disorder frequently substitute sounds made in the back of the mouth like ‘k’ and ‘g’ for those in the front of the mouth like ‘t’ and ‘d’, or delete consonant sounds in words. Children who leave off sounds or produce them in the wrong manner are very difficult to understand.”
Susannah was happy to get a diagnosis and was even more pleased to learn that her son could get speech therapy at the Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City. Because the family lives in Macclenny, traveling to Lake City is an easier trip for Susannah and Weston. “I prefer not having to drive to downtown Jacksonville; Lake City is a straight shot down Highway 90.” With a total of five children and one on the way, the Thomas family welcomes any extra convenience they can get.
Wolfson Children’s Hospital recently opened three new specialty centers throughout North Florida and South Georgia to make it more convenient for children like Weston to receive outpatient pediatric specialty services. The Lake City specialty center was the first to open and also provides occupational and physical therapies, subspecialty care in pediatric cardiology, hematology/oncology and urology. The center is adding new pediatric rehab therapists to keep up with patient demand, and pediatric otolaryngology (ENT) is planned for the center in the near future.
It’s been almost a year now since Weston started speech therapy at the Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City. “When he first started speech therapy, Weston could only produce a few words,” said Hammer-Knisely. “He has made significant progress in the year he has been here.”
In addition to good results for Weston, Susannah likes the intimate atmosphere of the Lake City location. “I love the personal attention we get,” Susannah said. “Our speech-language pathologist Judy has helped him immensely and even gives us speech exercises to do at home with Weston so he continues to improve.”
To make an appointment at Wolfson Children’s Specialty Center in Lake City, call 386.758.1811.