Kids Speech Matters, written by Sandra Ahlquist, is an inspirational account of one mother’s journey of discovery as she strives to understand, acknowledge, accept and support her son Luca’s learning disability, an Auditory Processing Disorder (APD).
Luca was born in 2001 and it became apparent within the first few years of his life that he had a severe language disorder of some kind. The book documents each stage of his life, from birth onwards, describing the difficulties that Luca had in communicating with others and the never-ending round of tests, assessments, therapies and interventions from professionals that have become a part of life for him and his family. It is a thoroughly absorbing read – I read it from start to finish in one sitting – and what shines through is both Sandra’s belief in her son and his capabilities, and her determination to discover the exact nature of his communication disorder and to do whatever it takes to ensure that he receives –and continues to receive – the best environment and support to achieve his full potential.
Sandra and her family live in Australia and her book describes the education system and range of professionals and programmes available to support herself and Luca that are found there. However, themes such as the difficulties involved in effective multi-agency working, the mind-boggling array of assessments, tests and jargon used by different professionals, and the frustrations caused when bureaucracy and red tape win over common sense and a real focus on supporting an individual child’s needs effectively, cross all country boundaries, and I could readily identify with all her anxieties and emotions as she battled to find a diagnosis and access support for her son’s APD.
The journey since Luca’s birth has been an emotional one and Sandra writes about it in a straightforward way which engages and involves the reader easily. Her aim is to empower other parents of children with a language delay to “be the best advocate … “ for them, and she includes plenty of practical information and tips alongside her own personal story, such as what to look for when choosing a school that will meet your child’s individual needs.
As Sandra says at the start of her book:
“Communication is the most complicated human behaviour, yet it is often taken for granted.”
By the end of the book, I had been given a real insight into one mother’s battle to ensure that her son can develop that behaviour, due to her belief that
“Every child deserves to be able to communicate and learn to the
best of their ability.”
Sandra’s journey to support Luca’s learning continues; Luca is now 10 and due to change schools within the next couple of years.
Her aim to empower other parents and to share knowledge, experiences and resources has resulted in the creation of a website – www.languagedelaynetwork.com , which she manages to maintain in her “spare time”!
Kids Speech Matters by Sandra Ahlquist is available as an ebook from Language Delay Network for $19.99
Reviewed by Deborah Fielden, Specialist Teacher, Small Talk Speech & Language Therapy Ltd & Smart Talkers Pre-School Groups