My son was brain injured at birth. As well as no speech, he has feeding difficulties — Scope | Disability forum
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My son was brain injured at birth. As well as no speech, he has feeding difficulties


  • JJ
    JJ Member Posts: 4
    Hi Chris, my son is 12 and was brain injured at birth. As well as no speech, he has feeding difficulties and is fed by a gastrostomy tube. One of the many specialists I have seen over the years told me that Thomas would never speak until he can stick his tongue out of his mouth. She also said that lack of eating means that the oral muscles will never have developed enough for speech to develop. He still only makes vowel sounds although does experiment with strange noises from the back of his throat. He also now brings his tongue out of his mouth. I really don't mind if he never talks, but I wondered if you feel he might one day surprise us all! We use objects of reference as we have found this works best. His cortical visual impairment prevents him for using any other kind of communiciation. In my world bereft of speech therapists who stay in post, your opinion would be most welcome! Many thanks.
  • Dear JJ,

    Thank you for you your question. I am sure you wil underdtand that it is almost impossible for me to give about a clear answer regarding whether your son will develop speech without all his medical notes and SLT progress notes over the years. However I do have a few questions for you:
    1. Does your son have a means of expressing YES and NO?
    2. If so, can he make a choice between the objects of reference or are these being used to help your son understand what is happening (receptive skills)?

    With regards to intervention I'm a huge believer in Intensive Interaction whereby in your son's case you may copy his vocalisations and, over a period of time, look to modify and extend them. Intensive Interaction is a way of saying to your son "I respect the way that you communicate" and helps to build foundation communication skills such as turn taking (e.g. taking turns to vocalise) and joint attention.

    Please do come back to me with your responses to my questions.

  • JJ
    JJ Member Posts: 4
    Hi Chris
    Thanks for your response regarding Thomas. No, Thomas does not indicate "yes" or "no". As you suggest, the objects of reference are used as receptive skills. With regard to Intensive Interaction, this is carried out when they can at school. I have tried it out with him at home by copying his vocalisations and body movements. It is lovely to see face when he suddenly realises what is going on. He also has one to one music therapy which has helped him develop his social interation. I do appreciate you can't give me a clear answer as to whether he will one day speak but value any advice you might have. Thanks again.
  • Dear JJ, thanks for the additional information. I would recommend that the team working with your child (including you) start to categorise his reactions to different experiences and objects into "I like this" Vs "I don't like this" - this will help you to develop an understanding of his YES Vs NO responses which you can build on in the future. This list will be be an active list (I.e. will need adding to as you expose him to different objects and experiences and people) and will help those working with him to be react consistently to his YES and NO.

    It's difficult to give you a clear answer regarding whether he will speak verbally or not. However by working on his YES/NO and later possibly moving onto making choices he will be communicating.

    Kind regards



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