A 6-year-old Texas boy’s parents were convinced he couldn’t speak because of his learning disabilities and delayed development. But, all that changed with a routine checkup. A healthcare provider took a closer look and discovered the truth behind the boy’s silence.
Mason Motz spent the first five years of his life barely able to utter a word, but difficulty with speech wasn’t the only issue he faced. “Since birth, he’s had delays and issues,” mom Meredith Motz told Inside Edition. Mason was born with Sotos syndrome, a genetic condition characterized by a distinctive facial appearance, overgrowth in childhood, learning disabilities, and delayed development.
As his parents tried desperately to help him, one visit to the dentist changed everything. “He’s been in speech therapy since he was a little over 1 year old,” Meredith recalled. “Sleeping was always stressful. He would stop breathing. He had trouble eating and swallowing; every single meal we would have to remove something that was choking him. He didn’t get the nutrition he needed. His teeth started having problems.”
Those dental issues were a blessing which led to a shocking discovery and a change Mason’s parents never imagined. After suffering through multiple frustrating visits to dentists who were seemingly unfamiliar with treating special needs children, Mason and his parents found the answer they had been praying for when they took him to see Dr. Amy Luedemann-Lazar at Kidstown Dental in Katy. After sedating Mason, Dr. Luedemann-Lazar took a closer look at the boy’s mouth and made a discovery that would forever change his life.
Although the boy had been in speech therapy for years, no one had either thought to or been able to take a good look under his tongue. With him calm after being medicated, Dr. Luedemann-Lazar did, and she immediately recognized a problem. Mason was not nonverbal at all. He was tongue-tied. The condition, present at birth, restricts the tongues range of motion as an unusually short, thick, or tight band of tissue tethers the bottom of the tongue’s tip to the floor of the mouth. This restriction limits speech among many other things.
There are a few key things to look out for beyond speech issues that can indicate tongue-tie. Difficulty breastfeeding, due to an inability to properly latch, is an early sign. Tongue-tied toddlers might avoid certain foods, often preferring soft foods and making them appear to be “picky” eaters. Difficulty sleeping, unexplained cavities, and abnormalities in facial structure can be other indications there’s a problem.
Luckily, it’s easy to fix once it’s found. With a simple, non-invasive Waterlase laser treatment, Mason’s tongue-tie was released, and the results were almost immediate. “Within 12 hours, he was talking, and it was amazing,” Meredith said. And, he hasn’t stopped since. In fact, he’s become quite the chatterbox, often asking his mom about her day. “It’s like, ‘Oh my goodness, who are you?'” his stunned mother said with a laugh.
It’s not just Mason’s ability to speak that’s drastically improved. “It’s like night and day. He doesn’t have choking episodes anymore; he’s eating different types of food,” Meredith explained. “He’s behaving much better at school. His behavior was a problem because he was getting poor quality of sleep at night, he was constantly tired and was not able to express himself. He doesn’t snore anymore. He doesn’t have sleep apnea anymore.”
Mason’s personality has also bloomed with his ability to express himself. “Mason came in as quiet and apprehensive and nervous,” Dr. Luedemann-Lazar recalled. But, all that changed through the simple process of rehabilitating his tongue. “He is bright and has so much to say after years of not being able to communicate what was in his heart and in his head,” Dr. Luedemann-Lazar added. “So, he’s very interactive and funny and sweet.”
While the doctor seems enamored with Mason, it’s the healthcare professional’s passion and advocacy for which Meredith is eternally grateful. “She looks at Mason as a whole person,” the thankful mother said. But, it’s not just other medical professionals who she hopes will be inspired by Mason’s story. Meredith is also urging other parents to trust their gut. “If you think there’s something going on, find a doctor that will respect your opinion,” she said.
Because Meredith did just that, her son is no longer silent, but rather, he’s singing — a beautiful sound to a mother’s ears, to be sure. Most importantly, he can communicate what he feels and thinks. “He’s always had so much to say, and now, he’s finally able to form the words,” his mom said. Indeed, it’s an invaluable blessing to be able to share our ideas and participate in a conversation, something Mason was missing out on until a persistent mother and a determined doctor took the time to look a little closer.