Beverly Macut Werling with daughter Sarah Ann

Beverly Macut Werling
Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders
Sacramento, California

Real-life stories prove Scottish Rite’s help is truly a gift of love.

The Scottish Rite has an extraordinary reputation in the field of speech therapy. Just as Shriner’s Hospitals are famous for their work in healing the bodies of the young children, the Scottish Rite Childhood Language Disorders Clinics, Centers, and Programs are renowned for healing children’s speech/language delays.

For the past few years, I have had the privilege of writing monthly profiles of patients at the Scottish Rite Clinic for Childhood Language Disorders for the Sacramento Scottish Rite News. Two follow. Their stories have touched my heart. A common thread running through all of them is that so many people do not recognize, or they misinterpret, the symptoms of speech and language problems. Everyone thinks these children will “grow out of it.” They don’t accept that there’s a problem, until the child is older and either struggling through, or failing in, school.

At the Sacramento Clinic and other Scottish Rite Clinics, however, parents find an oasis of understanding and extraordinary therapists who individualize programs and teach us, as well as our children, ways to cope with speech and language delays.

One of the most heart-rending stories involved an 8-year-old boy, Joshua, who was failing in school. Teachers and other children thought he was stupid because they couldn’t understand him. He had no friends. He told his mother he was no good, “not worth anything.” And at 8 years old, Joshua threatened to commit suicide. Then he came to the Scottish Rite. Now, he’s doing well in school and has made many friends. His mother told me that the Sacramento Scottish Rite Language Clinic literally saved his life!

Speech and language disorders affect about six million children in the United States. How many of them have suffered because there was no Scottish Rite Language Clinic nearby to help them, or because their parents were unaware of one in their area? What happens to those children? They suffer and they struggle all of their lives. The younger a child is assessed and provided with therapy, the more quickly that child will be able to function like his or her peers.

A Level Playing Field

When it came to talking, little Frank Dickie was always playing “catch up” with other children his age. Unlike his playmates, Frank couldn’t verbalize his needs when he was two years old. His mother, Shannon, was worried. She asked the pediatrician for advice. The doctor told her, “Be patient; he’ll grow into it.”

But, Frank didn’t “grow into” language. He continued to struggle until he was three. At that time, the speech therapist from Frank’s school district was called in to evaluate him. She came to his preschool weekly to help Frank work on his articulation, but his progress was slow. Shannon wondered if her son would ever be on “a level playing field” with his peers.

Frank Dickie

Then, she heard about the Sacramento Scottish Rite’s philanthropy. In November 1994, at the age of five, Frank was evaluated at the clinic. Therapists determined that Frank had errors in his language system, as well as severe articulation delays. He would struggle to find meaningful words and to sequence events in a logical order.

Frank worked very hard to improve his speech and language skills. He and his therapist focused on specific grammatical rules, as well as developing knowledge of categories in order to help him organize his vocabulary so that he could more accurately find the right words to use. As his language improved, this verbal, engaging little boy, developed confidence in his abilities. Recently, Frank “graduated” from the Scottish Rite Language Clinic. He’s in kindergarten now, and, by all accounts, is a typical six-year-old.

“You can understand him now!” exclaims his mother, Shannon. “He makes up stories like the other children and is even beginning to read. Without the Scottish Rite, Frank would be way behind. He’d always be playing catch up with everybody else. The Sacramento Clinic put him on a level playing field.”

The Most Perfect Kid

Ten-year-old Nicholas Smith was born with chromosome deletions. His equilibrium and fine motor skills are “off,” and his physician must closely monitor his kidneys to ensure that they develop properly. This sensitive fourth grader is often on an emotional roller coaster. He goes from laughing to crying in the blink of an eye. It’s difficult for him to focus on tasks for more than a few minutes.

But to Nick’s parents—and anyone else privileged to know him— Nick is, as his mother, Chris, puts it, “the most perfect kid so full of love and kindness.”

Nicholas Smith

According to his therapist at the Sacramento Clinic, Nick is conscientious, mannerly, and humorous. But, learning is a long, step-by-step process for him. When he came to the clinic two years ago, Nick could not follow a two-part direction; sequencing of words was a tangled web, and his understanding was limited to simple, concrete information.

Nick’s clinic therapy focuses on reading and listening comprehension. He is also enrolled in a special day class for communicatively handicapped children. Although his skills continue to be well below what is expected for his age, in the last year he has demonstrated approximately one to two years of growth in most skills areas. Nicholas’ mother says, “The clinic has done such wonders with him! Nick understands that everybody’s different. He knows we’re not all meant to be the same. The clinic has helped him to build up his self-esteem and confidence. So, if someone teases him because he’s different, he knows that it’s their problem; not his. I can’t say enough good things about the clinic. They’ve worked so hard with Nick. I’m just glad there are people out there who care and can help.”