An elated family has found its voice and praised ‘amazing help’ after being completely transformed by speech therapy over the past 16 years.
With seven children battling for attention, the Shanks family household is never quiet.
But for mum Vickie the noise is music to her ears after four of her daughters and one son have all come through communication problems which once left her two-year-old twins with no speech at all.
And the transformation is all down to intervention by Warwickshire NHS Speech and Language Therapy service which helped them find their speech and fulfil their potential over the past 16 years.
The 55-year-old mum explained that as six of the brood are on the autistic spectrum and one is dyslexic, the need for help is hugely important to reduce stress and anxiety for her children and help them relate to and understand each other.
“The team has just been a lifesaver,” she said. “We are a very unusual family but this help has been wonderful for us in so many ways.
“They have transformed our lives. It is not too much to say that they have saved us.”
The family first became involved with the team when two-year-old twins, Mirie and Lorie, now aged 17, were diagnosed with delayed speech.
Since then, Nikita, 15, Osborn, 14, and Pippa, 12, were all helped through similar communication problems and taught to relate to one another and develop their voices and understanding in a way they could never have dreamt of.
Vickie said: “The twins were not talking by the age of two and we realised something was not right.
“Later, Nikita was found to have extremely low receptive language which was affecting what she was learning at school and fuelling anxiety.
“Without that assessment we wouldn’t have known how much she was struggling so it was a critically important and helped find the right school. It was amazing. She was understanding more and also coming home to tell me what she’d done at school, something she’d never done before.
“Family life has changed so much - we can communicate now and know how to relate and speak to each other.
“It is wonderful and the way it had reduced their anxiety has made such a difference.
“People think it’s just about problems with pronunciation but it can be so much more.”
The younger children attend school in Kenilworth, Princethorpe, Coventry and Warwick and they all live at their Crackley Lane home.
Vickie, whose husband died six years ago, is no stranger to living with autism after seeing it in her own mother and brother.
She has given up her job selling corporate games to write a book on living with the condition.