Makenzie has one inspiring story. She is a determined six-year-old little girl who was diagnosed with Perisylvian Syndrome at the age of two-and-a-half. She is being raised by her grandparents. I began seeing Makenzie when she was five years old. At that time, she maintained no more than two functional verbalizations due to paralysis of her tongue and lips secondary to her diagnosis. Her grandmother said Makenzie would often try to communicate her thoughts, but after multiple unsuccessful attempts she would end up crying and leave the room frustrated. During her evaluation, I modeled four signs of pictures in the Preschool Language Scale assessment in passing. During a break, Makenzie turned back to the page in the PLS and pointed to each picture and signed baby, ball, shoes, and cookie. She had remembered each sign after only one model and following 10-15 minutes of additional testing. One to two weeks into treatment, I received a phone call from Makenzie’s grandmother and she could barely talk as she was crying. She explained that Makenzie had just returned from a walk with her grandfather and signed, “I saw two horses!”

This was the first time her grandmother was able to understand a novel phrase she was trying to communicate. She said the look in Makenzie’s eyes when she knew that she had been understood took her breath away and left her speechless. Over the next two and a half months, Makenzie learned over seventy-five signs with her grandmother intently watching and attempting to sign each target with limited use of her hands due to her own disability. Makenzie not only learned how to sign animals, food, colors, emotions, and common school phrases but she was able to sign five to six word sentences. By the time she was discharged from therapy services, she was not only able to make requests, but also able to initiate conversations such as, “I like your pink shirt.” A little determination is sometimes all it takes…Makenzie and her family are perfect examples.

–Megan Bateman, SLP-CCC

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