by Jim Heuer
(Saint Peters, Missouri)
In May of 2004 my youngest and third daughter was born. As she grew, she simply would not speak. Having experienced delayed speech with my middle daughter just a few years earlier, spending much time visiting doctors and specialist I was taught that my middle daughter had no motivation to speak as a result of family and friends knowing what each “grunt” meant and responding to her request. I was told she would speak when she was ready. Which turned out to be absolutely correct as she is seldom at a loss for words today?
With this experience, I simply assumed the same would hold true for my youngest. Shortly thereafter our good fortunes began with the introduction to Parents as Teachers. The wonderful people of this organization entered my home to prepare my daughter for pre-school. During these visits the teacher felt there was more to my daughter’s lack of speech then simply desire and encouraged testing. I must admit, I was skeptical though lucky enough to understand they were the professionals and had my daughter’s best interest at heart and agreed. Through this testing it was learned that my daughter was challenged with Apraxia and it was advised that she begin speech, language and occupational therapy, which to my amazement would be provided by the professionals of Parents as Teachers as part of their regular visits in my home. As we began this process, with reopened mind and firm dedication, there was a singular goal, which was that someday my daughter would be able to speak “mom” or “dad”.
As she grew, it was suggested that she attend a pre-school that was part of the Wentzville School District that offered self-contained rooms with a traditional teacher, speech and language therapist and children with similar challenges all in the same room.
Upon enrolling, more good fortunes arrived in the wonderful teachers, therapist and staff at Quail Ridge Early Childhood Center in the Wentzville School District. Having spent two years at Quail Ridge we were seeing some amazing results and were excited to learn that it would be recommended that my daughter enter a traditional first grade class and be scheduled for individual therapy sessions throughout the week with the schools speech and language therapist approximately 190 minutes per week. As she entered first grade, we began to see an additional concern that my daughter was having trouble interacting with the other children and often times became very quiet and kept to herself.
The teachers, therapist and staff at Lakeview Elementary in the Wentzville School District continued to believe this was a byproduct of the delayed speech, and as her speech continued to develop, so would her confidence which in turn would bring her out of her shell.
Having completed the 2011-2012 school year and second grade my daughter has blossomed into a vocal, confident, well liked, outgoing active young girl who has many friends, age appropriate vocabulary and above age appropriate reading skills. She has also been very adamant (as much as an 8 year old can be) that when she grows up, she wants to be a speech therapist. As the 2011-2012 school year came to an end, her therapy has been reduced from the 190 minutes a week of combined speech and language to 30 minutes a week of language only.
Through this experience, I have learned so much; how lucky we were to have what were initially strangers come into our lives and take such an interest in my daughter, provide such amazing compassion and encouragement to her, and coaching to me and my family. I’ve also learned there are so many families who live every day with similar and higher degrees of challenges.
The blessings my family has received from so many unsung heroes in my opinion (far too many to name individually) has also motivated me to dedicate my financial planning practice to try to give back, by helping families with special needs dependents in any way I’m capable, whether by providing words of encouragement, an introduction to a professional or financial related advice. I’m committed to doing what I can to pass on the generosity that we were so fortunate to receive from others.