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Richard L. Ripley Sr., 33
Morgantown, West Virginia

In 1993 when a group of Scottish Rite Masons began painting, wiring, and remodeling the site of the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders in Granville, West Virginia, a suburb of Morgantown, little did I realize it would have a strong impact on my life. When my grandson Aaron was two years old, his parents, George M. Simpson Sr., 32°, Senior Warden of Morgantown Union Lodge No. 4, and Kathy Ripley–Simpson, my daughter, noticed that he was not making normal speech sounds.

By Aaron’s third birthday, his hearing was checked, a speech evaluation was done, and he was admitted to Pre-School Special Education with one hour of speech therapy per week. An independent speech pathologist, Pat Ford, M.S., CCC/SLP, evaluated Aaron and diagnosed him with Developmental Apraxia of Speech (DAS) which is a motor speech problem where there is an inability to make voluntary movements of the oral area, thus affecting intelligibility of speech.

It was suggested to Aaron’s mother that the Scottish Rite’s Clinic could be of service. Speech pathologist, Ingrid Davis, M.S., CCC/SLP, of the Center, evaluated Aaron and agreed with the diagnosis. He was accepted in the center in June of 1996 for two hours of treatment per week. He is also receiving sign language lessons through the public school system and three hours of private speech therapy per week. Aaron has progressed rapidly since being diagnosed. He uses a communication device called Pegasus Lite, and he is demonstrating more self-confidence and a willingness to com-municate verbally. He began attending regular kindergarten in the fall of 1997. His mother is very persistent about getting Aaron the help he needs, and I am proud of her for that. I am the grandfather of eleven, Aaron being the youngest, and I dearly love them all, but there is a special place in my heart for Aaron. I am profoundly indebted to the Scottish Rite for all it has done for Aaron, and I am very proud to be Secretary of the Valley of Morgantown and a member of so caring and beneficial a Masonic Order.