Though I am a stay-at-home-mom now, I am also a Registered Dental Hygienist. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Often, awareness is brought to the fact that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease or how to protect your children’s teeth from sports injuries. Those things are important, but one thing that is sometimes overlooked are speech issues related to missing teeth, tongue-tie, or other oral health problems.
My nephew, Zachery, is 6 years old. He loves trains and Legos and Minecraft. He has a great sense of humor and is a sweetheart. Zachery also enjoys a good book. If you pull out a book to read, he is an eager audience. When I met him he was 3 years old and very difficult to understand. This was a big problem because he likes to talk a lot! It was very frustrating for him to have so much to say, but not be understood. He has come so far with his speech and is easy to understand these days, but you have to “listen fast”, because he talks a mile a minute! Zachery’s speech challenges are due to developmental delays in the area of speech, rather than oral health problems, but many children may experience a combination of the two and for that reason, speech therapists and dental professionals work closely.
Many children with speech difficulties experience a lack of self-confidence and frustration either from not being understood or from being different from their peers.
We love the book Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester as a way to help children with speech issues learn to feel more confident and their peers to appreciate their differences. I bought this book for Rachael and it has become a favorite of Zachery’s; in fact, I loaned him this book many months ago and it has found a home on his bookshelf rather than ours.
Hooway for Wodney Wat is the story of a wodent who can’t pwonounce his r’s who uses his unique difference to outsmart a bully named Camilla. It’s a sweet, light-hearted, and silly story that your children will be quoting lines from long after you’ve closed the book.