Kids battle speech impediment to express themselves


Children at the speech clinic showed signs of improvement after the confidence-building session. Photo – Times of Oman

Muscat: Despite stuttering and other speech impediments, the children at iCommunicate Speech-Language Pathology clinic faced their fears and spoke in public about their hobbies and talents at the clinic's first anniversary celebration on Thursday.

Najah Al Abdulsalam, the owner of the clinic and a speech-language pathologist, said the event, which was held under the auspices of HH Sayyida Dr Khoula Bint Julanda Al Said and HH Al Sayyed Hamad bin Hilal Al Said, was important because it helped the children gain confidence and speak publicly, despite their challenges. She said it was also an opportunity for these children to demonstrate how they had improved due to their speech therapy.

"With some of them, I've seen a 100 percent improvement. Others take longer. But for them to speak as they did today is very important. They are the ones who make this place a success," noted Najah.

Ahmed Al Ghazali, a 17-year-old who has a serious stutter, said the few months he has been receiving treatment at the clinic have helped him greatly. He read verses of the Quran aloud and gave a speech about dinosaurs, and even though he stuttered a bit, he managed to speak in public for nearly 10 minutes. "It's made a huge difference," he said, as his father looked on.

Rachel, a British mother of a 10-year-old boy, Matthew, who was born with speech and hearing problems, said the clinic has made a significant difference for her son. She said Najah's approach works wonders.

"We were so happy when the clinic opened. Najah's personal style and enthusiasm helps," Rachel said.

Sarayu Gnanadhandayuthanpani said her son, Anirudh, 11, has benefited from the clinic, too. Anirudh, who displayed his artwork and played the violin, often stuttered, but after only 15 sessions his speech has improved.  His mother added that her son now has more confidence and uses techniques he has learned to speak fluently, she said.  "I'm feeling so proud as a mother," she said.

The clinic, located in Qurum, offers a variety of services for speech disorders, eating disorders and hearing impairment, in both Arabic and English. It is the first such clinic in Oman. For more information, visit www.icommunicate-slp.com.

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