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Telehealth Helps a Child Express Herself

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Speech-language pathologist LaShundra Collins Young always has had a knack for helping others express themselves. As a kid, she spoke on behalf of pets and toys. As a compassionate and dedicated care provider at Children’s National Hospital, she helps patients express what she calls their hearts’ desires.

Speech therapy via telehealth recently helped one 6-year-old progress in learning to pronounce words while lessening her parents’ anxiety about exposure to COVID-19. The girl’s kindergarten teacher noticed her progress during remote school and asked her to serve as class weather reporter. LaShundra helped her prepare for the big day. One exercise including gargling by video conference to practice making the “hard g” sound. The girl’s parents learned to model speech therapy practices in between appointments.

The family later sent a video of the class weather report. “The experience built her confidence and she felt great that her dad didn’t have to tell the other kids what she was trying to say,” LaShundra says.

LaShundra believes pandemic-related anxiety has led to more cases of children stuttering and delays in development of verbal skills in toddlers. “Kids in quarantine have more passive interaction with screens and fewer models of other children to imitate and model,” she says. “Telehealth at Children’s National lets us keep supporting our patients’ development and gives families hope despite a global pandemic. For that, I’m grateful every day.”