Speech therapy – early intervention is crucial

 

Sir, – I’m a 20-year-old student who has verbal dyspraxia. It is frightening how similar my story and Charlie’s story is (“Our son Charlie is five but he cannot say his name”, Life & Style, March 12th).

I too could barely speak when I was five. I couldn’t pronounce my older brother’s name, just like Charlie can’t pronounce his sister’s.

The difference between me and him is that I was in speech therapy by the time I was diagnosed, aged three. I was absolutely blessed that I didn’t have to wait for the treatment I needed to overcome my dyspraxia. My childhood was filled with hours spent in the offices of speech, and occupational therapists and even more hours at home working on words and phonics. It wasn’t fun but the alternative was far worse. It’s hard to describe all the difficulties I faced as a child. To simply communicate what game I wanted to play was a daunting task.

I was always at risk of falling behind in school even though I know I wasn’t stupid. The self-doubt that developed when I interacted with friends who couldn’t understand me lingers in me to this day.

But speech therapy changed all that. Speech therapy gave me the ability to speak, taught me how to adapt and find solutions to my difficulties and, most importantly, it gave me the confidence to fulfil my potential. Today, I’m a debater in Trinity College Dublin, where I can and do often stand confidently in front of an audience, speak and have my voice hear and understood. That is why it saddens me to see ever-increasing waiting lists and children not getting the support they need. Early intervention speech therapy works, and I’m proof of it. – Yours, etc.

BRÍD O’DONNELL,

Sandycove,

Co Dublin.