Updated: March 17, 2021 10:38 PM
Created: March 17, 2021 08:36 PM
If a box of foam bricks is opened, 3-year-old Thomas Quinn will take every one out. He likes to feed a frog puppet plastic cookies and bang on musical boxes with a small mallet.
All of those activities are part of his speech therapy.
"He was having some speech delay issues where he wasn't quite up to where he needed to be with his peers," mom Caitlin Quinn said.
Their doctor suggested checking in with the Minnesota Masonic Children's Clinic for Communication Disorders in Duluth. Thomas had an evaluation, got on a wait list and started going about six months ago.
"He's working on a lot of articulation so he can speak more clearly and be understood by us and his peers, most importantly," dad Tom Quinn said.
Thomas adores his speech language pathologist Serena Larson. She works with him for about 40 minutes twice a week.
"We played with the frog, and we were really trying to sequence that vowel to the consonant on 'eat,'" Larson said after their Wednesday session. "He's getting pretty good at it."
The uniquely tailored, play-based therapy is attractive. So is the price. Families get two years of free services, something that Clinic Director Niki Lampi said has been especially important during the pandemic.
"We've really seen an increase in referrals," Lampi said. "I think just economically, it's been difficult for some families. So knowing they can come here, they can get treatment without having to worry about how to pay for it has really been so helpful for many families."
And it makes a difference, as the Quinns have seen with Thomas.
"For a long time, he'd talk, but you'd have to kind of prompt him, like say, 'Thomas, say this.' And he'd repeat it back really well," Tom said. "But lately he's just been just chatting on his own more, pointing things out, observing things. He is really good at saying 'I want this, I want that' now."
"He's come so far in such a short amount of time," she said.
The clinic currently has a wait list. But Lampi said they are accepting new patients. Families should just call and ask for an evaluation.
"We just feel really lucky to have gotten him in here and have this resource," Caitlin said. "He (Thomas) gets excited to come here."
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