Rowen Santiago is a confident six-year-old boy, full of energy, excitement and chatter. It wasn’t always this way, though.
At only 15 months old, Rowen’s mother, Laurie Santiago, became concerned about his reoccurring ear infections. She also noticed that his speech seemed a little delayed. Unsure what was going on, Laurie decided to call into Grandview Children’s Centre.
At this point, Rowen was placed on the Grandview waitlist. When their appointment day finally arrived, Rowen was diagnosed with a mild speech delay. After a few follow up sessions with Megan Parker, a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at Grandview, this diagnosis went from a mild to a severe speech delay with oral motor planning issues.
According to Rowen’s mom Laurie, Grandview quickly began pointing her towards resources, like parent workshops, to lessen her worry surrounding the uncertainty of what would come next.
“Grandview actually really helped, because it wasn’t like well, you have a diagnosis and off you go. We were very quickly into the parent workshop where we then worked with them,” says Laurie. “I did cry, but Megan was very reassuring and went through things like ‘this is what we’re going to do, this is what it means.’ so it was reassuring to know that we had the support of Grandview to help us through. As soon as you get any diagnosis, you think oh my gosh, my poor baby! Then it becomes, what does the future look like?”
For Laurie, Grandview was able to help answer those questions and offer the support she needed.
After Rowen’s Junior Kindergarten year, Rowen attended Campbell Children’s School for Senior Kindergarten. Laurie says she is incredibly appreciative and thankful to the fact that Rowen was able to experience his SK year at Campbell’s.
“They really helped him discover that love of learning that he was missing from that JK year,” says Laurie. “By the end of Campbell’s he was doing grade one math, just because he could. They recognized he was doing well in math and let him do more.”
Rowen has been able to work with his SLP, Megan, throughout his entire journey here at Grandview. The Santiago family has been so pleased with Megan, they even nominated her for an award.
“We’d pull into the parking lot and say we’re going to go see Megan and Rowen’s chanting, ‘Megan! Megan! Megan,’” says Laurie. “At a very young age he said when he grows up he wants to be like Megan. She knew when to push. At two, three and four years-old, kids have a short attention span, but she kept it fun, she kept it engaging. We hit a spot where the ‘F’ sound would make him lay on the floor and cry. It became so aversive that Megan was like ‘alright, this is what we’re going to do!’ She was so encouraging. When we transitioned to Campbell’s, to have him getting the speech services throughout the day was just amazing. He was so comfortable and confident, and it was such a safe place that he was whipping through goals.”
Even now, Rowen is still working on and accomplishing goals with his speech.
“Right now, Rowen is working on literacy sounds. His big milestone he just got is his K sound. So right now, he’s loving saying the word smack. That one was one he really struggled with,” says Laurie.
From the beginning, Laurie says that Grandview has never seen Rowen as just a number. They see him as Rowen.
“They are very willing to work with him and took the time to get to know him,” says Laurie. “Through Campbell’s and through speech therapy, you weren’t just a number. It gives him the confidence and it shows him that hecan. You want to grow up and be a doctor? You can be a doctor, absolutely! It’s the self confidence that they have given him and me as a parent to advocate for my son.”
Now in the first grade, Rowen is continuing to learn and grow. Grandview has been an incredible support system for the Rowen and his family. Rowen has quickly become a chatterbox and is able to advocate for himself in his day-to-day life at school and at home.
“At every touch point, from the moment you pick up the phone to make that first call and you’re saying there’s something wrong with my baby, to okay this is our last appointment, look how far he’s come to now he’s going to school and we’re planning what we need to be ready. You know you’re being cared for,” says Laurie.