When Jackson met April (SLP), he would only eat a few foods and frequently over-stuffed or pocketed food in his mouth, making mealtimes stressful for the whole family. He also had limited language and joint attention skills, resulting in difficulty getting his wants/needs met and interacting with his family. April knew Jackson was full of potential, and this is where their journey began!
First, April used PECS and low-tech AAC to support Jackson’s communication development, but he had too much to say to be limited by a picture exchange communication system or a device with limited vocabulary. So, April decided to transition Jackson to a high-tech AAC device, which he quickly learned to use by selecting icons to express himself. His parents also learned to use the device in order to model words for Jackson and learned other techniques from April to incorporate into their HEP, such as increasing wait time for a response, providing communication temptations, and utilizing communication handouts for daily routines (like hand washing). The whole family, including siblings, spent time in every room of their house with Jackson and his AAC device to practice labelling items, requesting wants and needs, and improving his confidence and independence.
To tackle Jackson’s feeding difficulties, April utilized aspects of the SOS approach and food explorer visuals to promote progress in a fun and engaging way. His family was also an integral part of his progress with his feeding skills by involving him in cooking and serving new foods to broaden his experiences with different smells and textures as well as talking about, smelling, kissing, and trying new foods during mealtimes. It didn’t take long before he was using his AAC device to request different types of protein, which he would not eat before, with peanut butter quickly becoming a favorite.
He crushed his feeding goals (and some lasagna), was discharged from feeding therapy, and is on his way to eating his family out of house and home! Jackson now eats mixed textures and varying proteins, willingly tries new foods, and has an improved ability to chew, so he no longer over-stuffs or pockets food. Because of all the feeding progress he made with his SLP, Jackson can eat the same meals as his family, so they can focus on building strong family bonds over mealtimes and trying new restaurants without worry.
Now, his focus in therapy is increasing his ability to communicate – he is on his way to being a Simon Says, or Jackson Says, pro! He recently started using two-word phrases on his AAC device and learned how fun that can be. He said “you up” while looking directly at April, so she stood up immediately to associate meaning with what he said on his device. Then, April and his mom swung him back and forth by his hands and feet while he laughed. When they stopped, he said, “again, again!”
He uses his high-tech AAC device to request snacks (not sure if you’re noticing a theme here, but this boy loves to eat now!) and actions, and he is starting to spell words he is learning in school. He impressed April week after week during their therapy sessions with his memory skills and understanding of vocabulary categorization to independently manipulate the device. Jackson’s verbal language skills have also improved, as he is beginning to greet family and friends using their names and say single words such as “help, jump, mine, go, run, monkey”.
April and Jackson’s family are proud of how far he has come and excited about where he’s headed!