Groves toddler learns to speak at new Mid-County outpatient clinic

When 2-year-old Samuel Hedrick of Groves began attending speech therapy for language delay, he wasn’t able to communicate with his mother.
Delayed speech or language development is the most common developmental problem. It affects 5 to 10 percent of preschool kids, according to the University of Michigan Health System.
“He really couldn’t say anything. He couldn’t even say momma before this,” said Sam’s mother Serena. “He was getting really frustrated because he couldn’t tell us what he wanted or articulate at all what he was feeling.”
Taylor Miguez, Sam’s speech pathologist at Christus Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County , said when he first began attending speech therapy, Sam only had about five words in his vocabulary. Sam sees Miguez twice a week for 30-minute sessions and will be treated for at least a year.
“At age 2, you want to see at least 50 words, usually 50-150,” Miguez said. Sam only knew maybe two words when he started therapy, his mother said.
Miguez uses direct modeling, a technique where she demonstrates or models the correct pronunciation of a word within a natural conversation or activity such as putting a farm animals puzzle together or playing with shape-sorter toys, which work on shapes, colors, and location.
“What I want him to do, I’m going to do,” she said. “So you’re basically providing him with that stimulation in the environment of what you want him to produce.
“So basically, whatever he’s doing, just tell him what he’s doing. Label that object. He may not know what that object is.”
Sam is progressing well, Miguez said.
When he tested prior to treatment, his receptive language was less than 1 year old.
Receptive language means the ability to understand information and involves understanding the words, sentences and meaning of what others say.
Sam is also learning his animals.
“Most kids that are 2 know your basic animals: cow, horse, chicken,” Miguez said. “He didn’t know any of that. … Before I would ask him to pick up the pig from the puzzle, and he would pick up whatever he laid his eyes on first.
“Now he sits, attends and waits for my request and then will usually go through the whole puzzle of animals,” she said.
Recently Sam said the word “duck” for the first time.
“His mom sent me a video,” Miguez said. “She was so excited.”
One word Sam shared with his mother touched her more than all the others he has learned combined, however.
“What really made me cry was when he walked in the room and said ‘Hi, Momma,’ for the first time,” Serena said. “Since he’s been seeing Taylor, he’s really taken off.”
The next steps for Sam, who now knows around 10 words, are to not only be able to identify objects but to also understand what they are and request them, Miguez said.
Angela Harrington, lead speech pathologist at Christus Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County, said the center provides a much-needed service in the area.
“We have not really had a big presence for speech pathology in Mid-County until now, as far as a true, full-time presence. … This is kind of a first of its kind,” Harrington said. “People were going to Beaumont or were just not getting the services they needed, so this is a big deal for us to offer these services to all ages.”
Harrington said the Christus Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County Speech Pathology clinic averages around 20 patients a week and began offering speech services in May.
In addition to speech delay services like Sam is receiving, the clinic offers speech therapy for patients with autism, stroke, head injury and Parkinson’s. The clinic also offers VitalStim Therapy, neuromuscular electrical stimulation, for patients suffering with difficulty swallowing or dysphagia, and is skilled in helping adults following total Laryngectomy and Tracheoesophageal Puncture (TEP) procedures.
For more information, call (409) 899-8268.

Photo by Kevin King -  When Sam began working with speech pathologist Taylor Miguez, he didn’t know any of the animals in the farmyard puzzle. Now, he can work through the whole puzzle, Miguez says.