Nicky (4) beats speech disorder
"During her second visit she already uttered her first words"
When daughter Nicky still hadn’t spoken her first words far beyond the time that one would expect, her parents became increasingly concerned. "When Nicky was 3 years old, she could hardly speak," says mother Suzanne Clemens-Verberk. Doctors at the time had no plausible explanation for Nicky's speech problems. The child health centre referred Nicky to the hospital for a hearing test. The family also consulted a psychologist. All tests showed that nothing was wrong with Nicky's hearing, nor was the psychologist able to find a reason for Nicky's speech disorder (neurogenic growth retardation). Desperate, Suzanne enlisted the help of the Functional Neurology Institute in Lisse.
Next day appointment
That moment marked the end of a stressful period for Nicky’s parents. “Nicky always played alone and kept to herself at the day-care centre, never making a sound. The odd time she tried to say something, she couldn’t,” said Suzanne. "And as children get older, they start giggling about it. For a mother, that’s heartbreaking."
Suzanne was pleasantly surprised when she contacted the Functional Neurology Institute to make an appointment. “They said I could bring Nicky in the very next day." That was at odds with the long hospital waiting times to which she had grown accustomed. “A five-month waiting period was nothing unusual,” she says.
Clutching her completed questionnaire, Suzanne and Nicky reported to the Functional Neurology Institute the next day. "What I remember most of that first visit is how quickly Ronald van der Kuil, the professional specialist, was able to win Nicky’s trust. She cooperated well in the initial examinations and clearly felt very much at ease." Van der Kuil noted a disruption in the activity between the brainstem and the speech centre. To Suzanne’s surprise, Nicky didn’t resist being put in the Gyrostim on her first visit. The GyroStim is a high-tech computer-controlled chair that can rotate around its axes in different directions, helping clinicians to cure patients of their neurological complaints.
The second visit was even better, says Suzanne. "Nicky skipped along and climbed straight into the GyroStim. She also uttered a few words!" That progress continued, with Nicky saying more and more over the following weeks. In the end, eight treatments were enough to remedy the disruption in the activity between the brainstem and Nicky's speech centre. "She also talks a lot when she plays with her dolls. Sometimes, when she gets really excited, she tries to say too much all at once and then she is difficult to understand,” says Suzanne, who is very happy with the progress Nicky has made. "She currently visits a treatment centre 3 days a week for speech therapy. There she is in the company of other children with TOS, a language development disorder."
Nicky is progressing well, but Suzanne sometimes finds it difficult to see the frustration that other TOS patients exhibit. "It is quite intense to see young children lying on the floor screaming because they are so frustrated." So Suzanne counts her blessings that Nicky has made such good progress. “She is the first in the treatment group not to have to go to a special school; she has been given the green light to attend mainstream education." People in Suzanne’s immediate surroundings also see how well Nicky is progressing. “They are familiar with Nicky's background and now sometimes say they can’t even see she ever had a problem. As a mother, you feel much better when your child is doing well."
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