Success Stories

Sara, PECS and an SHBH Speech Therapy Victory

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My name is Dana H., and I am a Small Hands, Big Hearts Speech Therapist. Here is a recent success story.

I want to introduce you to Sara*. Sara has visual challenges as well as hearing and speech difficulties. She often has to use  a wheelchair.

When this precious little girl was born, she was developing typically. All of sudden, she had a series of seizures at 3 months of age. Her development slowed drastically after this event.

I met Sara when she was 18 months old. I was providing home speech therapy to her older sister. I noticed her developmental delays. Since Sara was only 18 months of age, her mom was not aware speech therapy could benefit her. I explained that speech therapy could be exactly what Sara needed to accelerate her development.

SHBH was able to get Sara quickly approved for speech therapy services and we started working together.

Soon Sara began babbling, a positive step which is a necessary for speech development. As a therapist, I want every child to develop as much communication independence as possible, so we also began using PECS–a picture exchange communication system. Sara and I worked on identifying pictures by simply pointing at them when I vocalized the object.

We soon had a breakthrough. Sara started handing me pictures to communicate what it is that she wanted, a drink, a snack or a certain toy. I was excited because this showed that she understood the functional connection between the picture and the object with which it corresponded. Over time she started using PECS to communicate more and more.

One occasion her mom related to me stands out in particular. Sara was at school and had grabbed a picture of Cheese-Itz, a snack she loves. Sara crawled over to the teacher and handed her a card to express her wishes for a snack. The fact that she was able to do this represented a milestone of freedom and independence for Sara.

Sara can now use an iPad or iPhone to communicate using PECS. Melissa Gutzmer, our SHBH CEO, took the time to research grants and provided me with an application from the Elk Lodge. This particular grant provides needed equipment for  children with special needs.  Through the Elks club grant, we were able to get Sara her own iPad. She is now able to tap and slide all over the iPad and communicate using PECS.

We have seen another victory. Sara has begun vocalizing! We still have a ways to go, but this is a beautiful picture of a child making progress through the efforts of SHBH to provide therapy while connecting Sara with strategic partners like the school district and Elks Lodge.

Recently Sara visited extended family in Mexico who had not seen her for a long period of time. They were amazed at her progress.

SHBH–Helping Every Angel Reach Therapeutic Success.

*The client’s name has been changed to protect her identity.