Mom credits pre-teen son’s success to increased interactive talk in early childhood

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Christine (left) smiles with her son Vinson (middle) and their family after a recent adventure. 

As Christine Gardy watched her son, Vinson, stand up again and again to receive recognitions for academics and leadership at his fifth grade graduation, she couldn’t help but think of LENA.

When he was just a baby, she participated in one of the first LENA studies in which parents received feedback on how much they were talking, reading, and interacting with their children.

Called “The LENA Study” (TLS), a group of about 100 parents were recruited and asked to measure their daily talk about 10 times over the course of a few months. Christine doubled that, completing nearly 20 recordings.

“I really went hard with the LENA System for awhile,” she recalled with a laugh. “He was a little infant when I started — not even ambulatory. LENA stressed that it didn’t matter what you were reading or saying to him, so when I was nursing or had any alone time with him, I would pull out a magazine and read the articles to him.”

Her data show that her average adult word count during the study was in the 99th percentile, and the amount of conversational turns her son experienced was in the 80th percentile. Conversational turns have been linked to activation in Broca’s area, a primary language center in the brain, and to long-term increases in children’s verbal scores.

Christine started to see what she called “significant effects” almost immediately. Vinson started talking when he was 11 months old, and he could communicate his needs effectively through sign language and verbalizations.

“I was absolutely surprised. We were in a lot of mom groups, so I would see other children the same age week by week who weren’t speaking yet,” she said. “We had babysitters who had worked with other families who were amazed.”

Even now, 10 years later, she still credits her son’s successes to LENA and how the technology focused her parenting on interactive talk.

Now 11 years old, Vinson has been accepted into a science and math magnet middle school, reads on a college level, and has earned top scores on standardized tests he’s taken in school. He reads voraciously, and enjoys playing complicated board games like “Monopoly®” and “Dungeons and Dragons®” for fun.

“His vocabulary — because he reads so much more than me — is probably better than mine at this point, and I have an English degree,” Christine said.

Vinson also excels in music and sports, playing both piano and upright bass and swimming competitively.

“After seeing how far he’s come, if the LENA program is still going strong, you need to tell people that it does work — at least in our case. I feel that using the LENA System has gotten him to where he is today,” she said.

In the future, Vinson hopes to be a neurosurgeon. Christine is thrilled to see where the next few years will take him.

“I feel like LENA helped me to be a better parent, and that using the LENA System paid off. All I can say is — so far, so fabulous!”

LENA Team

The LENA Team is a dedicated group of professionals who are passionate about increasing awareness of the importance of early interactive talk. We are statisticians, speech-language pathologists, curriculum specialists, engineers and linguists.

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