Ocho was first seen in the summer of 2022 where he only produced 15 intelligible words, using mostly gestures to communicate. Caregivers could only understand about 10% of the words Ocho attempted. They were concerned because he had been hospitalized for over a week at the age of one for a life-threatening illness and feared this caused a delay in his speech.
When first starting therapy, Ocho would barely produce any words when asked to imitate due to frustration and knowing the words were too hard. His speech language pathologist, Jennifer, started encouraging word approximations through positive reinforcement and play, making a huge difference in his expressive communication. Jennifer used Kaufman cards during sessions and provided a home exercise program to caregivers that included a list of common word approximations for core vocabulary development. Caregivers have been involved in all therapy sessions and occasionally make therapy a family affair by having older brother help Ocho when he is out of school for a holiday. They have learned a lot and have incorporated their skills into Ocho’s daily life, maximizing his success. Jennifer has pushed Ocho reach his goals by building a relationship of trust so that he now shouts, “Ms. Jen, Ms. Jen!” when she arrives.
Ocho has participated in speech therapy for over six months with great success. He is speaking in 3 to 4-word sentences! His family now understands most of the things he says as he pairs his words with gestures. At his most recent evaluation, he produced over 70 intelligible words as well as showed confidence in the harder words, no longer shying away from them in frustration. He has improved so much in his communication skills, that his caregivers can send him to preschool in the fall.
Jennifer says Ocho is a sweet boy with a lot of energy and the best dance moves around. Since he has found his voice, he has been able to show off his great sense of humor as well. Although Ocho has always been confident in himself, he is now able to confidently speak to his extended family and play with other children.