Upon meeting 7-year-old Odin, one of the first things you’ll get to know about him is that he is full of energy and loves to chat about anything and everything.
It wasn’t always like this, though. At just one year old, Odin’s parents had concerns about his ability to speak.
“He was silent,” says Ashely Michaelsen, Odin’s mom. “There was no babble, there were no words at all.”
At his 18-month checkup, Odin was put on a waitlist for Grandview to have his speech assessed.
“We had him in Speech Therapy when he was just over two,” says Ashley. “It wasn’t until he was about three and a half that we got the official diagnosis.”
At this point, Odin was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech.
“I was actually pleased to get something concrete, because I knew once we got an official diagnosis, we would know which course of treatment and therapy he needed,” says Ashley. “I was happy to have something. It was better than being told it was just a delay because we knew it wasn’t. At three years old he still couldn’t say ‘mama,’ so we knew it was more than just a delay which is what we were told repetitively up until he got the diagnosis.”
From here, Odin’s family began looking at what treatments and therapies were best for him.
“He started Speech and Occupational Therapy at Grandview when he was just a toddler. Right from the beginning, they were there,” shares Ashley. “We had therapy in Bowmanville, they have a branch in Bowmanville which is fantastic, and he started with a speech therapist and she was wonderful. Eventually, he got moved just because of how severe it was to a pathologist, and she was the one along with his developmental pediatrician, who was there every step of the way. From before the diagnosis, to the diagnosis and then for years after, Grandview has been a constant support.”
Since his diagnosis, Odin has attended Grandview Children’s Centre for Speech Language Pathology, Occupational Therapy and was a student at Campbell Children’s School, Grandview’s co-located educational partner.
“Myself and my whole family are indebted, we have nothing but wonderful things to say about Grandview. They have been a constant support for us and with Odin struggling so much with his confidence, they didn’t just help him with speech, they gave him confidence in everyday interactions,” says Ashley. “Everyone was so kind, not just to him but to my other kids when we would come for any functions and they were always ready to answer any questions Robin, my husband, and I had. We think they are the best. We miss it like crazy now that we are no longer going there.”
Upon finishing his school year at Campbell’s last June, Odin was officially ready to transition to his home school as a chatty and eager student.
According to Ashley, Grandview paid attention to what Odin liked and tried new things with him during therapy on a regular basis. This is when Odin really started to progress.
“They were always so patient with him. There was lots of positive reinforcement which I think was key for Odin. He’s a really sensitive little boy, so having so much love and support coming from his therapist and everybody else there is really what helped him to succeed, because he wanted to make them proud of him, so it was just that personal connection that I think he had with all of them that really made a difference for him,” says Ashley.”
She says she was also amazed with the creativity behind each and every therapy session. Most of Odin’s therapy was play-based in order to keep him interested. With each game they played, the outcome would often be tailored to speech goals and various sounds he was working on at that specific time.
“I would always be blown away. He would be having so much fun playing these games and I could see the reason behind what was chosen. They always made it a fun experience for him. He would enjoy and look forward to going every week,” says Ashley.
For Odin and his family, there was one big milestone that they will never forget.
“When people who didn’t know him well started understanding him. That was huge. When he would go up to another child, for the longest time he would try so hard to talk and they would have no idea what he was saying, but it was when they started to respond because they understood him, that was the biggest thing for us,” says Ashley. “He speaks constantly now. Once people were able to understand him, that’s when his social skills began to take off and his desire to actually be in groups, because before he used to isolate himself a lot. Once he was accepted and people could understand him, he began to thrive socially.”
Now, a social butterfly, Odin was more than happy to participate in Grandview’s commercial, where he shared his dream of becoming a teacher one day.
Odin says he wants to be a teacher to help kids just like him.
“We’re so grateful to Grandview for everything,” says Ashley.
Watch below to see a confident and social Odin get to experience what it might be like to one day reach his goal of becoming a teacher.