A new speech therapy device helped Cade Ledet, 13, fix his speech impediment and renew his confidence. Ledet's problem, the "r's," began early. "Even in kindergarten or as Cade would say kindergawden," recalled his mother, Shannon Ledet. Therapists Shannon Ledet spoke with therapists who advised that he would grow out of the "baby talk" habit, but years passed with no change. Ledet began speech therapy at school in Rosepine with speech and language pathologist Dot Cobb.
Cobb said they tried all of the traditional techniques including tongue suppressants to fix Ledet's "r's," but he made little progress.
"If he would say, 'I'm in the first grade' it would come out like, 'I'm in the fawst grade,'" described Cobb.
Ledet kicked therapy into high gear after a story that he appeared in on KPLC shocked him. Shannon Ledet recalls watching the story with her son about a dirt bike accident and his subsequent knee surgeries saying, "he noticed immediately that he had speech problems...was embarrassed and wanted us to turn the TV off."
In the footage Ledet pronounced dirt, "dawt" and had trouble with the long list of "r" words related to his accident.
"Dirt, surgery, hurt...He couldn't say those words and he was being forced to say those words everyday because he's at school on crrruches," said Cobb.
Ledet's parents ramped up therapy inside and outside of school, but with little progress their hope was fading until Cobb stepped in with a new idea. She discovered the CompleteSpeech Palatometer while at a conference and applied for a free trial.
"It is like a touch screen for your tongue," explained Shannon Ledet.
Using a retainer-like mouth piece hooked up to a computer, Ledet can visualize for the first time where his tongue touches the roof of his mouth. Cobb said this is crucial because unlike with other visual letters like "f", the letter "r" is not easy to demonstrate because the tongue placement occurs in the back of the mouth using fine motor movements.
"You can see it and feel it," said Ledet of the device.
"I had no idea that it would have this result...and within 20 minutes we could already see progress," said Shannon Ledet.
Cobb said after six sessions Cade had corrected the "r" errors.
"Now he's able to be redeemed. He can be on KPLC again and show that his "r's" are fixed," said Shannon Ledet.
Ledet came full circle for a terrrrific ending.
Andy May, CompleteSpeech CEO, said this device is the first of its kind in a Louisiana public school and another one is housed at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The price varies between $3,000 to $10,000, but school districts and clinics can apply for payment plans.
For product information on the CompleteSpeech Palatometer go to http://completespeech.com/speech/Product/complete_speech_therapy_system/