Meet Mikah & Annastyn
Tell us your children’s story.
Mikah: Mikah is our handsome, energetic, acrobatic four and a half year old! Our pregnancy with Mikah was a joyous and healthy one! It was not until his due date arrived, that we began to experience the emotional roller coaster. On his due date, we went in for our routine OBGYN appointment, the doctor listened to his heartbeat and found irregularities showing he was in distress. We were rushed into delivery where Mikah was eventually born vomiting meconium. Due to having been suctioned and irregularities breathing, Mikah remained in observation without visitors for hours until his breathing regulated.
It didn’t take long after coming home to learn that Mikah required constant movement in order to rest. He refused cribs and bassinets and would only sleep in a baby swing set on the highest setting (even as a newborn). He would cry if he was still for any duration (if only we were familiar with sensory seeking behaviors at this time in our life). By age 4 months we began to notice that Mikah was not producing sufficient dirty diapers and was falling off the growth chart. He was soon identified as “failure to thrive” and we began seeing specialist to identify the issue and how to help.
By age 15 months, Mikah had tethered cord release surgery, was laxative dependent, and showing improvement in physical therapy. Mikah was walking and gaining weight. The weekend of his second birthday, we welcomed his baby sister into the world! It was at this time that we decided for one parent to stay home with the kids and focus on expanding services for Mikah.
After his birthday, Mikah transitioned into First Steps and participated in OT, PT, and dietary services. Months into weekly therapy, Mikah was still struggling with everyday routines -such as tolerating walking on grass (even when wearing shoes), touching water, and eating most foods. At that time, he was identified as having sensory processing disorder. As we continued therapy and educating ourselves, we began looking into the possibility of Mikah having Autism (which was officially diagnosed at age 3.5).
Mikah age 2-3 proved particularly challenging for our family. We were balancing life as a family of 4 and Mikah was struggling with self expression which was leading to behavior concerns. Due to not being verbal, Mikah had no way of identifying his needs and would often resort to hitting, throwing, and destructiveness. We transferred our existing therapies from First Steps to Associates in Pediatric Therapy in Shepherdsville and added a behavior therapist. Once at APT he slowly began gaining communication and obtained leg braces to help him walk appropriately.
These additional therapies have helped Mikah gain the ability to communicate effectively with those around him which has lead to positive interactions between him and family and friends! Mikah is in his second year of preschool (where he additionally received speech and 1:1 services) and will be playing soccer this month! We are so proud of the big brother he has become and admire all of his hard work!
Annastyn: Annastyn is a goofy two and a half year old girl who loves to eat, sing, and play with her big brother! Given our experience with our son Mikah, we were quickly able to identify developmental delay with our little girl. At age 1.5, Annastyn began speech therapy as she was not making eye contact or attempting verbal communication. After her second birthday, she began OT services to address oral seeking behaviors and fine motor development. Annastyn wears her heart on her sleeve and is either overjoyed or crying- and never in-between. Through therapy services, we have watched her grow into a happy little girl who loves to listen to songs, be read to, work puzzles, and make animal noises! She has shown such improvements in the past six weeks that she has met goals that were set in January!
In November 2017, at age 2, Annastyn was also diagnosed with Autism. While as a family, we are still learning what that will look like for her, we believe that it may affect her more mildly than it has our son.
Mikah and Annastyn play wonderfully together and help each other as they have different strengths in their abilities. Mikah has embraced bath time as he helped wash his sister’s feet when she was an infant. Annastyn has learned colors and numbers via her big brother who is great at reciting them. When we started a family, my husband Victor and I never expected to have 2 children with Autism. While our children’s challenges greatly affect our every day Life, we have embraces the hurdles and have found great joy and happiness in the growth and milestones our children make. We have found strength in each other and have grown closer as a family while embarking on this journey.
Why did you choose APT for therapy services?
After aging out of First Steps, Mikah transitioned to APT in Shepherdsville at the recommendation of his pediatrician. With Mikah needing multiple therapies, the idea of having therapy close to home rather than battling downtown parking garages with a child who runs and wanders sounded ideal. APT was able to schedule Mikah quickly after the referral was received and schedule therapy around pre-school.
Though we began our relationship with APT due to location, we continued with APT due to the rapport that was built between Mikah and his therapists CJ (OT), Morgan (SP), Chelsea (PT). Once our daughter, Annastyn, was showing signs of developmental delay and autism, we immediately requested that she complete therapy with APT (ST with Sarah) instead of going through first steps.
What improvements have you seen in your children since they started therapy at APT?
Mikah has been participating in therapy for nearly a year and a half at APT. When he began therapy at age 3, Mikah primarily communicated through grunting, hitting, and guiding adults toward object he needed. I was preparing myself to raise a non verbal child. Through his hard work and the dedication of his Speech therapist Morgan, Mikah is communicating in short sentences and fragments. He can count to ten, identify shapes, and tell you his name!
In occupational therapy, with CJ, Mikah has worked on his fine motor skills and can color and trace shapes. He has also shown a great improvement with self feeding and is working to expand his food variety. Mikah loves playing in the foam pit and flying on the sensory swing! We have even found that we can have a successful haircut after spending the morning with CJ and getting his sensory needs met.
Annastyn has been in therapy for just over six months (SP and OT) and we have already seen huge growth in development! She has gone from a child who would only participate in hand over hand gestures to a girl who will identify barn animals by name and expression! She is now able to participate in turn base play which has come in handy with her big brother. Annastyn can also help put her shoes on and now tolerates having her hair combed.
What has been your brightest moment along the journey?
Our most remembered moment was when our son, Mikah said “I love you” unprompted. This occurred just in the past few months and was a glorious moment considering that he was essentially non verbal at age three and that there was a time we feared we would never hear those precious words from him.
What advice would you give other parents who face similar situations?
My advice for families who are beginning their journey or who may be well into their journey is to seek to understand your child, embrace their uniqueness, and have a sense of humor about the situations you may find yourself a part of. Also, to forgive yourself; this is something I often struggle with as a Mother of two children with Autism. Forgive yourself- for “not knowing that sooner,” for being short on patience every now and then, for not knowing exactly what your child needs in a particular moment. Next time that situation arises, you will be more educated and more prepared. You are learning just as your child is learning; and you will make great progress together!
Several therapists, including Speech Therapist, Morgan Colyer, and Occupational Therapists, CJ Netherton & Sarah Taylor see Mikah & Annastyn at APT. We asked them to share a little about their journey with them.
How long have you been working with Mikah & Annastyn and what improvements have you seen?
I have been seeing Mikah since September 2017, but they have been with APT for speech since January 2017. Since I first started seeing Mikah, he has made amazing improvements in all areas of speech and language. We are making great progress toward articulation goals, he has begun using more spontaneous speech, and has started to use more complete utterances/sentences to express his wants and needs. He has definitely grown in his pragmatic skills, as well. He has demonstrated increased joint attention, task tolerance, and overall ability to appropriately engage in conversation and play with others!
I have been seeing Annastyn since May 2017. When I first started seeing her, Annastyn had great difficulty engaging in functional play, attending to non-preferred activities, responding to name, identifying objects, and was not yet producing vocal output. She now easily engages in therapy activities appropriately, takes turns, imitates play routines, and uses her voice to label, comment, request, and protest. These changes have allowed Annastyn to become a much more functional communicator across all environments.
I have been seeing Mikah since November of 2016. He has made improvements with attention to task and direction following, pre-writing strokes and shape formation, impulse control, trying new foods, fine motor coordination, and handwriting practice.
I’ve been working with Annastyn for 6 months. Annastyn has recently began engaging appropriately in therapy tasks as well as with other individuals which is huge progress for her. Annastyn has also started exploring sensory play by herself and transitioning between tasks without tantrums.
Describe a little about your relationship with Mikah & Annastyn.
My relationship with Mikah is definitely a playful one! Mikah loves to target our goals during play and his sweet personality has continued to blossom as he has been able to further advance his speech and language skills!
Annastyn has such a funny personality! She is a co-treat with occupational therapy and definitely tries to work the system by buddying up with whichever therapist is not directly making her do work at that time. She is so playful and has so much fun during therapy sessions!
Mikah is very sweet and energetic. He is always pleasant and generally willing and excited to participate in OT sessions and work on our activities. Seeing him make progress and meet goals is so exciting and you can really tell how excited he is when he completes a task.
Annastyn and I had a rocky start to our relationship but now we are always excited to see each other. Her smile is infectious and I look forward to working with her each week!