Speech is something many of us take for granted. Most children learn one language as they develop: Their brains are wired to listen, learn and use the words they hear around them.
That’s part of why it’s so much easier to learn other languages while you’re still young. At a certain point, it just becomes harder for your brain to adapt as quickly, and it loses its plasticity.
But for those who struggle with speech impediments or conditions that make it difficult to process language, speech is precious. One boy named Mason struggled with his speech for years, but doctors only recently found out why.
“He’s been in speech therapy since he was a little over one year old,” his mother Meredith Motz told Inside Edition. “Sleeping was always stressful. He would stop breathing.”
“He had trouble eating and swallowing; every single meal we would have to remove something that was choking him. He didn’t get the nutrition he needed. His teeth started having problems.”
Mason also has a condition called Sotos Syndrome. The Rare Diseases website describes it as being “characterized by excessive growth before and after birth, a large, elongated (dolichocephalic) head, distinctive facial configuration, and a non-progressive neurological disorder with intellectual disability.”
That didn’t explain why his vocabulary was so severely limited. His mother said that he had about five words he could regularly use, and they started looking for other ways to “talk” with their boy.
It took years for anyone to realize that his issue was a physical one: His tongue was literally connected to the bottom of his mouth, keeping him from being able to speak. He was able to understand and form words, he just couldn’t say them. But now, at age 6, that’s all changed.
Once a dentist, Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar, noticed it and took care of it, it was like opening the floodgates. He started using whole sentences and talking up a storm shortly after the procedure.
“We did detect a tongue-tie,” Luedemann-Lazar said. “Mason was not nonverbal; he was just unable to speak. He had been in speech therapy for years and no one had ever checked under his tongue.”
“Within 12 hours, he was talking and it was amazing,” his mother said.
“It’s like night and day,” she continued. And the changes aren’t just with his speech. Loosening his tongue has had several other major benefits.
“He doesn’t have choking episodes anymore; he’s eating different types of food. He’s behaving much better at school,” Motz said. “His behavior was a problem, because he was getting poor quality of sleep at night, he was constantly tired and was not able to express himself. He doesn’t snore anymore. He doesn’t have sleep apnea anymore.”
“He’s wearing out the ‘Les Misérables’ DVD he’s watching,” she continued. “He’s always had so much to say, and now he’s finally able to form the words.”
“He’ll say, ‘Hey mom, how was work today?’ It’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, who are you?’”
“Mason came in as quiet and apprehensive and nervous,” Dr. Luedemann-Lazar said. “He had a lot of challenges … looking at Mason’s growth and development, looking at his airwaves, looking at his muscle attachments, identifying the tongue-tie and correcting that for him, and then walking him … through the process of rehabilitating, the tongue function has been amazing.”
“It’s like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow because that’s what Mason is. He is bright and has so much to say after years of not being able to communicate what was in his heart and in his head. So he’s very interactive and funny and sweet,” she concluded.
Thanks to a dentist’s sharp eye and the support of a loving family, Mason’s got an even brighter future ahead of him — and it’s one he’ll be able to talk about as much as he wants.
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