Marblehead Toddler Sees Immediate Results While Addressing Speech Delay
It wasn’t that 18-month-old Maggie Aamoth couldn’t communicate, she just did so without using words. “She was very good at expressing herself in other ways, but she only had a few words in her vocabulary,” says her mom, Annie Aamoth, a special education teacher in Marblehead. Her two older sons had been much more verbal at the same age.
Suspecting a speech delay, Annie was proactive in reaching out to the family pediatrician and getting a referral to Aspire Developmental Services for an evaluation. Three members of the Early Intervention team met with Maggie and found that she met or exceeded all benchmarks for her age group but was a bit behind when it came to language skills. Soon thereafter she began seeing a Developmental Specialist once a week for in-home sessions.
“Literally, after the very first visit, things began to improve,” says Annie. “We were given new tools that helped us teach Maggie to use hand signs to communicate. So, instead of saying ‘uh, uh, uh’ to be picked up we had her use the up sign and she responded very quickly.” During each visit, new techniques were introduced that the family would then practice throughout the week. Through repetition and positive reinforcement, Maggie made steady progress.
“Maggie loves the sessions and gets very excited when Bree, her Developmental Specialist, arrives,” says Annie. During each visit, Maggie and Bree work together one-on-one, but time is also spent coaching Annie and her husband, Doug, around goals and expectations. Initially the focus was on learning hand signs to help alleviate frustration and increase non-verbal communication—often done through stories, songs and games—Maggie then moved on to learning single spoken words; she has continued adding more ever since.
“In a six-month period, Maggie went from speaking a couple words to speaking in sentences,” says Annie. “It’s been amazing. Now we’re focusing on pronunciation and adding to her vocabulary. The whole experience with Aspire has been wonderful. I have nothing but positive things to say about the organization.”