Our daughter Darian was a late talker. At 2-1/2 she only spoke a handful of words. As her vocabulary increased, it became evident that she wasn’t speaking at the same level as her peers. We went through several speech therapists over the next few years, but the improvement was barely noticeable. When Darian came to the Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center at the age of 5 she was nearly incapable of pronouncing the /g/ and /k/ sounds, which are expected by age 3. Her intelligibility (percent of speech understood) was 60%, though it is expected to be 100% by age 5.
Pam Norton, director and speech-language therapist, was the first person that correctly diagnosed Darian's problem. Darian was suffering from a combination of apraxia and phonological disorder. Speech apraxia refers to difficulty with planning and initiating movements for speech. Phonological disorder refers to difficulty with understanding the sound system of English. With the correct diagnoses, Pam was able to target the therapy directly towards these disorders. She also understood Darian’s low stamina levels and kept our sessions to a reasonable length, while incorporating fun into the therapy. I also appreciated how Pam was able to explain Darian’s speech disorder in a way that was easy to comprehend. This gave me a deeper understanding of Darian’s difficulties as we tackled the exercises at home. Whenever I had a question or concern, Pam was always at the ready with several suggestions or exercises. She has been such a knowledgeable and valuable resource for us!
As she grew older, Darian demonstrated difficulties in some areas of language and reading. Because she also demonstrated low tone and poor stamina, we decided to have Darian take part in Interactive Metronome program with Nan Busse during the summer where Darian worked on coordination, focus, and stamina. She worked concurrently on Fast ForWord Program to tackle some of the problems she was having with language and reading.
The results of Pam’s and Nan’s therapy with Darian were astonishing! Within 9 months Darian mastered the /g/ and /k/ sounds in conversational speech and we had moved on to later developing speech sounds, such as the /l/, /z/, /j/, and consonant blends. Darian‘s intelligibility increased to 95%. After the Interactive Metronome intervention, Darian’s stamina and ability to stay focused without fatiguing also improved significantly. Darian’s reading level improved from an early first grade level just before second grade to a normal second grade level with average reading rate, accuracy, and comprehension.
The Center has provided us with many tools, including Fast ForWord for receptive language and reading, Rime Magic, Reading Assistant, (also for reading) and The Listening Program, as well as useful tips and advice to help us through the complexities of Darian’s language and learning delays. She has worked very hard!
We’re saddened that our time with staff at the Center is coming to an end, I feel confident we will be able to work through Darian’s continued reading and language difficulties with all the resources and recommendations Pam has provided. I not only will recommend the Oakland RiteCare Childhood Language Center, I already have. I can't say enough wonderful things about this organization and Pam Norton. She is truly a miracle worker.