Children’s hospital gives Hatboro child gift of speech
firstname.lastname@example.org For Hatboro residents Dawn Sites and her 2-year-old son, Jaiden Colon, spending hours each week at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children is a normal routine. A premature baby at birth, Jaiden spent the first several months of his life at St. Christopher’s. Then shortly after, his doctors discovered he had eating difficulties and was not developing communications skills properly.
“I was scared,” Sites said. “kobody around me had been through this. I didn’t have anyone. [The people at St. Christopher’s] just kept reassuring me.”
Sites and Jaiden’s speech therapist, Allyson Menard, said since starting his speech therapy nearly two years ago, Jaiden has come a long way through play-based learning and encouragement.
“There’s been a big difference from even six months ago,” Sites said. “Before he would sit there and cry and I’d have to guess. kow, when he’s hungry, he’ll say eat.”
Sites said one of the main ways Jaiden has been learning to communicate is through showing what he wants or signing. An example is when he’s thirsty; he will hand her his cup. She said now Jaiden has even been able to add about 100 new words to his vocabulary and can recognize animals and the sounds they make.
“He’s made really nice progress,” Menard said. “He has made significant gains in language.”
Menard said Jaiden’s progress is typical of children with communications problems. The biggest difference, she said, between Jaiden and other children she works with, is Sites’s follow-through at home. Menard said Sites will continue Jaiden’s learning at home by carrying the language skills he gains into every-day life. She said Sites encourages Jaiden to use his new language skills to share what he wants and needs outside of the therapy session.
“He has a mother who is very involved and carries it over,” Menard said. “Seeing him grow up, it’s been a really fun thing being part of his development.”
In addition, she and Sites said, Jaiden has seen significant improvement since having tubes put in his ears in March.
“Ever since he got the tubes in,” Sites said, “it was like night and day.”
Jaiden is one of millions of Americans who has speech and language difficulties. According to the American Speech-LanguageHearing Association, 8 to 9 percent of young children develop a speech sound disorder and, by first grade and 5 percent of children have noticeable speech impairments, many for no known cause.
The Department of Speech Therapy at St. Christopher’s Hospital specializes in helping children and adolescents with communication and swallowing issues. They are individually evaluated and treated to help improve achievements.
Menard said therapy can go “as little as 6 months to years depending on how quickly [they] pick [it] up.” She said the goal is to get these children and adolescents at the same development level as their peers.
Dawn Sites, center, assists with her son, Jordan Colon’s, communication therapy with therapist Allyson Menard from St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children.