Tell us your child’s story.
We were told that he wouldn’t meet normal childhood milestones and didn’t know if he would ever interact with others. With changes already being seen in James we pushed through and found new therapy resources for him. When James was 3 and a half we met Catherine Starr she went straight to work with our little guy. Sometime between Kindergarten and First Grade he started speaking and was learning how to read. It was unbelievable how he finally had a voice and was learning how to use that voice for himself. I’m not sure what we would have done if it wasn’t for such amazing therapy! Catherine taught James and us as parents how to communicate with each other. He is not the stereotypical Autistic child, he loves to cuddle and hold your hand. Before he could speak he would lean against a person he liked.
Why did you choose APT for therapy services?
We chose APT because of the bond he had with Catherine Starr. James had already been seeing her for Speech Therapy and his progress was outstanding. We turned to APT for his other services as well. He has Tannis Mosher for Occupational Therapy and Lindsey Fields for Physical Therapy.
What improvements have you seen in your child since they started therapy at APT?
There have been so many improvements since he started APT. He can start a conversation, tie his shoes, make french fries in the oven, get dressed by himself and interacts with his sisters and his peers, and the list grows everyday.
What has been your brightest moment along this journey?
Our brightest moment in my opinion is when James graduated and was released from Speech Therapy in October 2017. When his Uncle came to town this summer it had been 5 yrs since he last saw James and could not believe that he was the same little guy. It was the first time he ever heard James voice. The realization that 5 years ago our son didn’t speak is mind blowing because he never stops talking now.
What advice would you give other parents who face similar situations?
Early intervention is key and therapy works! As hard as your situation may get, stay positive, if things don’t seem to be working try something new, hang in there, you’re not alone. Venture into your child’s world, it’s amazing there!
Speech Therapist, Catherine Starr previously saw James at APT. Physical Therapist, Lindsey Fields and Occupational Therapist, Tannis Mosher, currently see James as well. We asked them to share a little about their journey with him.
How long have you been working with James and what improvements have you seen?
I started working with James when he was 3. He has just aged out from First Steps and his First Steps speech therapist was unable to continue seeing him. I began to see him when I was working for a home health agency. When we began, James was non-verbal and was uninterested in engaging with me on any level. However he had a significant interest in the movie “Cars” and I was able to use this to establish a rapport with him and we became buddies. Over the next few years, James shared many things with me. From books he liked to read (Pete the Cat) to games he liked to play (Where’s my Water?) and movies he loved (everything Cars). James taught me a lot and I was able to engage with him at his level. James also showed me that he really likes to have physical contact and worked best when we sat close together on his couch working on my iPad. Later, when James came to see me at the clinic we continued to work while sitting physically close. When James transitioned between preschool and kindergarten, his Mom and I realized that he can read. This made it easier to teach him how to use language appropriately. After James started coming to the clinic he had learned to say inappropriate words (the school sent him home once – so he used it whenever he was asked to do something that was hard, or that he didn’t want to do). After I pointed out to him that his words were inappropriate, he thought about bit for a bit, then stopped using those words. One of the happiest and saddest days was when James graduated from speech therapy. He still has a few random speech sound errors, but he is able to express him self as well as anyone – and he’s really good at arguing. I may take him back at some point to address those random sound errors, but we don’t have a plan to at this time. It all depends on his continuing ability to communicate effectively.
I have also been working with James in physical therapy for a little over a year. He has been working hard on strength, coordination and balance demonstrating a lot of progress in all of these areas.
I have been working with this client for one year. He is 9 years old and is entering Grade 4. We certainly work on traditional occupational therapy fine motor activities, but we also focus on improving social interactions. Coaching about appropriate language and good sportsmanship are always worked on.
Describe a little about your relationship with James.
It was rough at first! James didn’t want to have anything to do with me, whenever I sat down next to him he would get up and walk away. I hung in there and finally found the one subject he loved, “Cars.” I played cars with him and asked him questions about the cars. I had not seen the movie (I still haven’t), but I did learn about it and was able to name some of the characters. After a while James started to imitate my naming of the characters, then he began to tell me the names of the other characters and to direct me in our play. This became the pattern for a couple of years. Everything I know about Cars I learned from James. We would play a game of his invention and he would use his words or gestures to tell me what to do. We moved onto playing games on the iPad and reading books. James’s first favorite book character was Pete the Cat. One day I arrived at his house and James was having a meltdown because he couldn’t wear his favorite shirt. After Mom told me the story, I launched into Pete the Cat (with help from his family) and James could hear the similarity between the situation and the book and was able to wear a different shirt. When we played iPad games together James learned how to tell me what to do to play the game and then what I had to do to help him pass a level. Our therapy has always been (mostly) James led. At this point James and I are friends. He isn’t coming to me for speech therapy any more, but I still see him in the clinic as he has other therapies (he tells me all about his sessions) and occasionally we see each other out in the community. James is a great kid and I’m looking forward to seeing the movies I know he will be making in the future.
James and I have a lot of fun in PT and he always keeps me on my toes. I have to work hard try to find new exercises to push James and he also pushes me! James usually requests that I perform all of his PT activities with him and he is almost able to beat me at push ups and wall squats!
James uses our time to talk about fears and we talk about how to manage.