Natalie Seifert

Natalie Seifert

Speech therapy opens doors for local girl

Natalie Seifert loves sparkly dresses, gymnastics, swimming, girly things, going to preschool and getting silly and giggly.

Natalie Seifert, who is nearly five years old, loves sparkly dresses, gymnastics, swimming, girly things, going to preschool and getting silly and giggly when playing with her little brother.

When it comes to conscious intellectual activity, she is like any other four year old. She faces a challenge, however: one that occurs in one or two children out of a thousand.

Natalie has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), which is a motor speech disorder that causes children to have great difficulty planning and producing movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and palate needed for intelligible speech. She knows what she wants to say, but her brain has difficulty coordinating the muscle movements needed to say those words.

Her mom, Robyn Chambers, started wondering if something was wrong when Natalie was six months old. “We had a baby book about development patterns – about making new sounds,” she explained. “Natalie wasn’t making any new sounds and that got me thinking; I said I’d give her another six months to see if anything changed.”

At a one-year-old checkup it was noted that Natalie’s speech wasn’t progressing, and her mother asked to have her looked at and was referred to Interior Health speech and language therapist Alys Wardlaw, and has been seeing her ever since.

“Natalie had issues coping with speech, gestures and eye contact,” Chambers continued. “Alys and I worked on things like eye contact, getting Natalie to communicate in other ways, such as nodding and waving.”

Natalie was tested for autism; when she was nearly three it was determined that she didn’t have autism, but had apraxia.

Chambers said once there was a diagnosis, it was good to have a name and information about apraxia, as well as a lot of support, including support groups with other parents.

“When Natalie was three years old she finally started saying ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’, and once she became verbal, things changed and we implemented a new program.

“We started working with sounds: melding and fine-tuning them and building a vocabulary from there,” she said, noting that in January this year they started using Kaufmann Speech to Language Protocol.

“Natalie enjoys the successes and is always willing to try. This is a constant focus at home — it’s there all the time.”

Chambers added that when you’re four or five years old, other kids start to notice that you sound different. “With apraxia it’s hard because you can’t always tell what they’re saying and you can’t always tell what they mean.

“It’s a challenge to remember that she isn’t just defined by apraxia; there’s also the challenge, as a parent, of feeling that you’re doing enough,” she explained.

“She’s going to ‘big kid school’ next year, and for me, I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. She’ll need speech therapy at school; she’ll probably need support with reading and maybe with writing.

“The challenges will be different in the school world, as far as my involvement. I’ll work with teachers, administration, support staff and speech therapists.”

Wardlaw said that the Ladies of the Royal Purple have been a truly wonderful support for Natalie and other children, generously funding an iPad and a computer program for the speech and language programs used for Natalie. “They have also funded cards to use with children with apraxia, and have made other donations: we’re thankful for them all,” she added.

In her 25 years in speech and language, Wardlaw has worked with other children with apraxia.

“Speech and language therapy is crucial for their progress; they need lots of practice and drill to get the programming from the brain to the mouth. Having parents on board makes all the difference in the world,” she explained.

“Robyn is a dream mom to work with. She does a lot of things outside of these sessions and is able to incorporate the main things we’re working on here, into everyday activities.”

She also said Robyn was on the ball. “She got Natalie in at a young age so we were able to get a baseline, work on social communication strategies and lay the groundwork for communication with things like eye contact, pointing, joint referencing and copying actions and sounds.

“Once Natalie started signing, and vocalizing along with it, her progress has been beautiful. She went from signing, to vocalizing, to single words, adding consonants and phrases and is now using short sentences,” Wardlaw continued.

“It is beautiful to see her blossom, and to see her talking in preschool and beginning peer-to-peer interactions is so rewarding,” she said.

“Everyone wants their child to have a friend, and this therapy has opened that door for Natalie.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A dose of COVID-19 vaccine is prepared at a vaccination clinic in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region since the pandemic began is now at 7,334

Members of the Tl’etinqox First Nations are awaiting word of when they will receive their second dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
‘We need the second round’: Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse questions vaccine roll-out

It’s been 42 days since Tl’etinqox First Nation members received their first dose of Moderna

Avalanche Canada has issued a special avalanche warning for the Cariboo Mountains effective through the weekend. (Wes Gregg photo)
The city of Williams Lake has received provincial funding for a proposed boardwalk connecting the RC Cotton Trail to the River Valley Recreational Trail. (City of Williams Lake rough visualization of the proposal)
$550,000 provincial funding announced for Williams Lake boardwalk trail

The boardwalk will connect the new RC Cotton Trail to the river valley

100 Mile RCMP Staff-Sgt. Svend Nielsen. (Patrick Davies photo, 100 Mile Free Press).
100 Mile RCMP investigate theft at airport hangar, 88 other incidents

Incident is one of 89 calls attended by police from Feb. 17 to 23.

Dr. Bonnie Henry leaves the podium after talking about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
COVID: 589 new cases in B.C., and 7 new deaths

No new outbreaks being reported Feb. 26

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

British Columbia provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives to view the Murals of Gratitude exhibition in Vancouver, on Friday, July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Death threats mount against Dr. Bonnie Henry, sparking condemnation from Horgan, Dix

Henry has become a staple on televisions in homes across British Columbia since January 2020

Most Read