When the mom of three sought medical advice, she was initially assured nothing was wrong. But a parent’s intuition never lies.
A life-changing diagnosis
A formal assessment later uncovered something surprising: Ava couldn’t hear. It was a diagnosis that sent her and her family on a difficult journey.
It meant working with a speech language pathologist (SLP) to learn how to speak until Ava was four. It meant sessions with an auditory verbal therapist (AVT) to train her ear to the sound of words until the age of seven. It meant receiving two cochlear implants by age five.
It meant now, at age 11 in Grade 6, being exactly where she needs to be in terms of reading and language comprehension.
“We’ve both come a long way — Ava getting the support she needed and me learning how to support her,” said Danielle. “Speech. Language. Literacy. It all goes together. If we didn’t have access to an SLP, I don’t think the results would be where they are today.”
Today, Ava is thriving. She has a new sense of independence, feels confident to raise her hand in class, dreams of becoming an art teacher and smiles — a lot.
ABC Head Start: supporting language success in all children
Having gone through this experience with Ava, Danielle, an EPCOR employee, knew firsthand the importance when she learned the company is now funding a pilot project through ABC Head Start to train teachers, educational assistants, home educators, classroom assistants — and eventually parents — to provide speech language support to children in socially-vulnerable Edmonton schools.
“Driving across the city to doctor’s appointments for years, trying to communicate to others that something was really wrong, just wanting to make things better for my child — it was really challenging and I can’t imagine what it would be like if there were language barriers, financial struggles or other obstacles thrown in,” said Danielle.
ABC Head Start offers a wraparound support services model for low-income families, many of whom are new Canadians. Supporting nearly 470 children across Edmonton, most of the children that attend ABC Head Start programming have speech delays, which can impact literacy.
Launching in early 2016, the pilot project will train ABC Head Start’s SLPs in Hanen, a teaching program that will allow them to share these speech language fundamentals with others and expand the circle of support for ABC’s children.