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"My Cooper is still in there!!"
Cooper is a vibrant, inquisitive, caring and empathetic five-year-old boy. But most importantly, Cooper is inspirational and his mother’s hero. Cooper has overcome so many obstacles in his short five years. He battled severe milk protein intolerance at 5-weeks old which led to severe RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), as well as pneumonia, bronchiolitis, reflux and numerous other infections, all during his first year of life.
To this day, Cooper still battles RAD (Reactive Airway Disease) which is an after-effect of battling RSV.
What makes Cooper even more inspirational to his mom, Meghan, is his tenacity and determination while learning to cope with Global Body Dyspraxia, Apraxia of Speech, and Sensory Processing Disorder.
Both Dyspraxia and Apraxia are neurological conditions, affecting fine motor skills, as well as oral-motor skills and speech development. Holding a pencil or a crayon were difficult tasks, along with walking, jumping, and climbing. Cooper’s speech abilities were hindered by difficulty coordinating his mouth movements, facial muscles and tongue to form sounds and words. His neurological conditions also affected the way Cooper organized his thoughts and processed information. With Cooper’s Sensory Processing Disorder added to the mix – noises, smells, touch, light, clothing tags, textures and foods became overwhelming, over-stimulating, and frightening.
Learning to manage his disorders was a daunting task for Cooper and his family. Imagine being a small
child trying to take in and process the world with all of its stimuli and not being equipped to communicate back; not being able to properly move your body, verbally respond, or make sense of it all. All of this was both frightening and exhausting leaving his mother saying, “So what do you do as a parent?” Cooper’s
mom needed to find the VERY BEST team, not only to help Cooper grow and learn new skills, but also to teach him how to cope within his world and provide him the tools to deal with his unique challenges.
Needing outside support became apparent when Cooper was about a year and a half old. He became stoic, quiet and stopped babbling; no longer the happy, smiling, giggling baby with a glimmer of mischief in his eyes. Cooper was often frustrated and rarely showed he was happy. Even his first word, “Dada”, disappeared. His mom became increasingly concerned over what was happening and how challenging it was becoming for Cooper to achieve his pediatric milestones. After consulting with his pediatrician and discussing the “big picture,” Cooper’s mom made an appointment with an Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist and with a Doctor of Audiology. "They backed up what I already knew, Rochester Hearing and Speech Center was what Cooper needed," his mom comment. And so just like that, Cooper’s journey with Rochester Hearing and Speech began!
Hearing loss was ruled out for Cooper, but by his second birthday, not seeing significant improvement, his mother met with a Monroe County Early Intervention Service Coordinator and requested further evaluation. Rochester Hearing and Speech Center assessed Cooper’s speech-language development, cognitive and adaptive skills. Results indicated a need for speech services, and in the fall of 2016, Cooper began in-home Early Intervention Speech Therapy with a Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist from Rochester Hearing and Speech Center. Within a few sessions, his mother saw progress. She saw the glimmer in Cooper’s eyes return, “My Cooper is still in there!” his mother stated. Speech sessions incorporated play-based therapy and use of sign language as a tool for communication. Within two short months, Cooper was able to communicate that he was thirsty, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and indicate
when he was hungry – he was finally experiencing relief from his communication frustration. Slowly he mastered more and more sounds and words.
By the fall of 2017 Cooper had made enough progress that his mom felt it was time for Cooper to participate in a 3-year-old preschool classroom and have the opportunity to interact with other kids his own age. This meant a new classroom, a new Speech-Language Pathologist, and a move to getting his speech therapy in Rochester Hearing and Speech Center’s clinic setting rather than at home.
Throughout therapy, Cooper’s therapists closely monitored his progress, as an initial evaluation can often
be just the beginning of a diagnostic process, with more definitive diagnoses arising from therapeutic observation. In the spring of 2018, Cooper was re-evaluated and formally diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech and his parents started to see his path to overcoming remaining obstacles come
fully to light.
Still trusting Rochester Hearing and Speech Center to provide the very best services, although summer services were not covered by his school district, Cooper’s mother requested to do private pay services and he continued therapy throughout the summer months to guard against any backsliding in Cooper’s progress.
And what progress Cooper made that summer! The therapy he had received up to that point had laid the groundwork – and Cooper had done the hard work of building the foundational skills he needed to thrive. He was poised for a terrific growth spurt in his skills, and his world changed that summer. His first meeting with his new summer therapist, Deb Cecere, was nothing short of magic! He was making great leaps and bounds. Deb instilled a sense of calmness and confidence in Cooper that allowed him to open up and try new things. She also advocated for Cooper to be further evaluated for his sensory processing and motor skill concerns, which led to him receiving Occupational Therapy, and eventually Physical Therapy.
It was such a relief for Cooper’s family to have answers – and what it meant to Cooper! Cooper looked forward to going to his sessions with Deb, and his parents were grateful for the additional ideas to work on with him at home. When it came time to be assigned a Physical Therapist, his SLP, Deb, said she had the perfect person – Dr. Sara Calus, also at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center. Cooper’s mom knew that if Deb was making a suggestion it was in Cooper’s best interest. Once again, Cooper’s parents were blown away when Cooper started his physical therapy with Sara. His mother stated, “Sara is equally as gifted as Deb, tapping into Cooper and getting him to complete his tasks and exercises.” Some days were hard, but Sara knew it was imperative he learn to do things on his own.
Finally, after all of this time, Cooper was coming out of his shell. Cooper’s home was filled with conversations, laughter and hugs, and Cooper was having fewer meltdowns. This was what Deb had promised his family the very first day, and they were finally okay! In fact they were more than okay; they were a stronger, more resilient family!
And just like that, the spring of 2019 was approaching and Cooper would be eligible for kindergarten by the following fall. After much contemplation his parents decided to have him repeat his 4-year-old Pre-K class. Cooper continued private pay services at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center in the summer leading up to the 2019-2020 school year. Again, Deb and Sara fought to ensure Cooper would get all the services he needed in his 4-year-old Pre-K class. But this time around, although he still needed support, Cooper was a completely different kid – he had even learned how to ride a bike! His parents were thrilled at the progress Cooper had made during his time at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center.
Transitioning to the preschool setting was a signal of independence for the family and they also knew it would be bitter-sweet and emotional for everyone involved. Cooper had learned that change is not always bad and with it comes growth – something he had learned during his therapy sessions. Cooper is well prepared for the next chapter in his life due to all that Rochester Hearing and Speech Center provided.
This is especially due to the collaboration of all his therapists, especially during his summer session.
“What Deb Cecere and Dr. Sara Calus have given Cooper is priceless. They changed his trajectory in life for the better. Saying thank you most certainly isn’t enough for unearthing the caring, inquisitive empathetic little boy he is and giving him back to me.
To Deb and Sara, your gift is amazing.
God bless you and thank you for sharing your gift and helping Cooper! Without you Cooper would not be who he is today! We will see you soon for summer services to help prepare
for the 2020-2021 school year!”
– Meghan, Cooper's Mom
"I could not believe my eyes and ears!"
Lorenzo was born premature at three pounds and nine ounces. Thankfully he had no effects of being so tiny until he got older. The family noticed that Lorenzo did not speak at the age when most kids started. At two years old, the family enrolled Lorenzo in an Early Intervention program with very little success. Remaining diligent with the understanding some kids may speak later than others, the family continued speech therapy. After six months, the family moved and was not able to continue speech therapy with the same therapist which they saw still no progress. At that time, Lorenzo was three years old and had a vocabulary of only five words.
Maria, Lorenzo's mother, knew there had to be more to why he was not speaking. During a conversation, a friend suggested Lorenzo may have a speech disorder known as Childhood Apraxia of Speech. Maria could not help but think every symptom being described was Lorenzo. Finally, something the family can work with; they quickly asked around for speech therapy recommendations. Rochester Hearing and Speech Center came highly recommended and they immediately scheduled an initial evaluation. During Lorenzo’s evaluation, Maria mentioned the possibility that Lorenzo may have signs of Childhood Apraxia of Speech and asked for Lorenzo to been seen by an expert in this field.
“What a blessing,” Lorenzo’s mom indicated as he was assigned to work with Deb, a speech-language therapist who forever changed her son’s life. Deb immediately evaluated Lorenzo and shortly confirmed that he indeed had Childhood Apraxia of Speech. It was like a heavy weight was lifted and the intense work could now begin. Small, no pressure goals were set up for Lorenzo where Deb worked with him for 30-minute sessions, four times a week at the Rochester/Brighton location.
This time around was different for Lorenzo. “Miss Deb," as she was affectionately called helped the family realize some mind-blowing things — Lorenzo did not even know how to move his tongue to make the simplest of sounds. His mom, Maria mimicked Deb’s techniques at home which furthered the progress of Lorenzo’s therapy. Within six months, Lorenzo went from using hand gestures and pointing to express his needs and wants to using actual words. Lorenzo continued his therapy for a year and a half while attending preschool. Lorenzo is now five years old and is in Kindergarten. He no longer needs speech therapy and is now focused on being the best kid ever. Not to mentioned doing great in school.
Lorenzo’s time with Deb made such an impact on Lorenzo’s life; he mentions her from time to time. Like the time he emphasized a word and commented “See, I don’t need Miss Deb to teach me anymore but maybe sometime I can go and play games with her cause I miss her sooooo much!”
The entire family attributes Lorenzo’s overwhelming success due to the speech therapy provide by Deb. Maria, his mom, commented that she was brought to tears while giving her son’s testimony. The family is forever in debt to Rochester Hearing and Speech Center.
“I could not believe my eyes and ears! Honestly, Lorenzo is a happier kid; he is no longer getting frustrated with us or himself!
I don’t know what we would have done without “Miss Deb” and Rochester Hearing and Speech Center.”
– Maria, Lorenzo's Mom
"I can’t believe how he’s almost an entirely different kid."
Within a few weeks of Tristan being born, his mom Ashley just knew “something wasn’t right.”
Fast forward 8 months and Tristan was diagnosed with an extremely rare, life-threatening immunodeficiency disease. His diagnosis finally accounted for all the unexplained reasons why he was in and out of the hospital — at times week-long stays. Not to mention the overwhelming amount of specialist visits, late-night runs to the emergency department, and Tristan’s overall lack of health. "Good days" were rare! Going forward, he became his mom’s “medical baby.”
At 15 months, through an intense regimen of medications and shots, Tristan was kept healthy enough to receive a life-saving bone marrow transplant. Separated from family, Tristan and his mom spent four months at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Around the clock, for a ten-day period, Tristan endured intense chemotherapy followed by receiving his donor stem cells. After the hospital stay, they remained close to the hospital to continue medical care and to ensure Tristan was progressing as expected.
Upon their move back home, their entire family
was isolated for six-plus months limiting visits from extended family and friends to avoid exposure to any illness, bacteria, or virus. Surgical masks were required, no different when they were in Philadelphia. Getting sick was not an option!
At 18 months, Tristan still wasn’t even close to talking. He didn’t seem to understand the simplest of commands. He wasn’t able to do many of the tasks that children younger than him could do easily. From always wanting to be held, having separation anxiety, having medication induced
food sensitivities, and having a feeding tube,
Tristan required assistance to develop social interaction skills and combat food aversions.
During a time when Tristan was allowed very few visitors, the family nervously began in-home early intervention with two speech therapists, a special education teacher, and an occupational therapist. He was making process, but not enough. Tristan had no exposure to other people – especially children. Therefore, the family sought out classroom style early intervention programs.
Tristan began attending the Early Intervention Developmental Group Program at Rochester Hearing and Speech Center in September of 2018. With Rita as his teacher, and all of the therapists to help him progress developmentally and physically, he has come SO far! When he started with Rochester Hearing and Speech Center in September of 2018, his mom was reluctant to think he could catch up enough to be ready for Kindergarten. Now with only one school year behind him, Tristan is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was; his mom has no reason to believe that Tristan won’t be ready for preschool and then Kindergarten.
Thanks to his participation in the Rochester Hearing and Speech Center’s Early Intervention Developmental Group Program, Tristan is now speaking in 4-5 word sentences. He is also eating a large variety of foods reinforced by a unique snack-time routine, and he is social, independent, and performing more and more “typical” tasks for his age every day.
Tristan has come to love and trust “his Rita” and “his therapists” as much as his own family. I can’t believe how he’s almost an entirely different kid since starting.
“I would recommend Rochester Hearing and Speech Center to anyone thinking about sending their child to an early intervention developmental group program - you will NOT be disappointed!”
– Ashley, Tristan’s Mom
"Entire outlook changed, it was a full circle moment."
Carter & Brayden
Parenting is an emotional roller coaster as it is. When we realized my 2nd son, Carter was hard to understand around the age of 2, it was difficult and uncomfortable — all I did was compare him to how my first son was speaking at his age and other kids around him. I was worried about the unknown and unsure of what the future held. When I met Jessica at Rochester Hearing & Speech, my entire outlook changed.
She quickly became a patient and kind mentor to my son, making him feel confident in his abilities in a safe environment — soon his jargon became understandable sentences. Jessica and I worked so hard on his success together and because of that, she became an important part of our family.
"I’m thrilled and proud to say that he’ll be entering kindergarten this fall, and no one would ever know he once had speech challenges. In fact, my proudest moment was when his pre-K teacher said, “I can understand him 100%” — it was a full circle moment."
When my 3rd son, Brayden was experiencing similar speech delays around the age of 2, I didn’t panic — I knew I had Jessica and the Rochester Hearing & Speech community on my side. We entered him into speech and haven’t turned back since! He is now almost fully understood. We are forever grateful for the time, persistence, and kindness Jessica showed our family. I can’t recommend her enough!
-Story provided by Kristie, Carter & Brayden's mom
"I want a milkshake, please."
You can help children like Mila form family bonds.
The bond between grandparents and grandchildren is nothing less than magical. Witnessing the progress of a child’s communication skills is amazing for everyone, especially when the child has difficulty speaking. Jane, Mila’s grandmother, was brought to tears recently not because Mila could not communicate, but because she made wonderful progress. – And she even said please!
Mila’s time with the Rochester Hearing & Speech Center Early Intervention Developmental Group equipped her with the tools needed to take the next steps to move onto preschool where she continues to receive services. She uses her tools to communicate, which strengthens her bond with her family.
Mila continues to make progress and her family is cheering her on every step of the way!
"He is doing great! No longer shy in class."
RHSC - Day Care Speech and Language Program
Yahveh entered Clifford Head Start in September, 2018 as a young 3-year-old. When he failed his GROW screening in English, he was referred for a bilingual speech-language screening in November, as Spanish is also spoken at home. The initial screening revealed a delay in his verbal skills of approximately one and a half years, with a much lesser delay in comprehension. He was screened in both languages, but his preferred language appeared to be English. Although he may have qualified for services if referred at that time, a number of factors led the SLP to take an alternative route. First of all, he was able to understand and appropriately answer questions, although with few words. For example, when asked what he does when he is sleepy, he responded “I bed.” His attention span was excellent and he benefited from brief coaching to learn new skills during the screening. In consultation with his teachers and parents, the SLP recommended targeting his delays in his classroom and at home, as his mother was a classroom assistant in another room, and was highly motivated to model and reinforce appropriate language skills at home. A re-screening was scheduled for three months out to determine his progress.
When seen again in February, the SLP determined that Yahveh had improved by the equivalent of nearly a year in his verbal skills, and was nearly age-appropriate in his comprehension. Examples of his expanded sentences included, “I want this for Mommy; I want put my sticker my pocket.”
Examples of his expanded sentences included, “I want this for Mommy; I want put my sticker my pocket.” His vocabulary greatly expanded as well. Initially he had named all animals “dinosaurs,” but when re-tested he had learned at least four or five zoo animals, for example. When first tested he was unable to assemble a simple puzzle, but performed well in this area upon re-screening. His mother reported that he can easily assemble all the puzzles in his classroom now.
Yahveh's mother related to the SLP that he had had many ear infections as an infant and young toddler, and that bilateral tubes p-e were inserted in his ear drums in 2017. Although Spanish is the parents' first language, Yahveh's older siblings attend school and speak with him mostly in English, which is a factor in his preference for English. He uses a few words in Spanish on his own, and will repeat sentences in Spanish. He understands the language well, according to his mother. He was initially very shy in his classroom, and cried a lot every day. Now he is making connections with staff and the other children, answering questions and telling them what he wants.
His mother said he will answer her questions about what he is doing and his day at Head Start. Overall, she is very happy, because he is “doing great!”
The SLP will continue to re-screen Yahveh to confirm that he has reached age-appropriate expectations in all of his language skills.
Readiness for Kindergarten now possible.
RHSC - Day Care Speech and Language Program
“Josue” was referred for a speech and language screening by his teachers in the Toddler Room at Ibero Child Care because, at nearly two years of age, he was not using more than 3 or 4 words. The dominant language in the home was Spanish, but Josue was also exposed to English all around him. His parents readily agreed to the screening as they were also concerned, but had had no idea where to turn for help. Josue was extremely active and was not able to follow directions unless shown what to do. His pretend play skills were limited. His motor skills showed no delays. The speech-language pathologist (SLP) from the Rochester Hearing and Speech Center covering the Ibero, who had learned a basic competency in Spanish in order to better fulfill her assignment, observed him in his classroom and in a quiet room when he was comfortable enough to accompany her out of his classroom.
She interviewed his teachers and parents to obtain a more complete picture of how he functioned in his daily environments.
As a result, Josue was recommended for a referral to Early Intervention, to which his parents readily agreed. He was evaluated and qualified for speech-language services for two hours a week. The SLP provided the services on a regular basis for about two years, initially in Spanish, and transitioning to English when Josue showed an interest in conversing with his English-speaking peers. He was discharged from therapy at four years of age, as he entered the UPK classroom because, with only mild delays in both languages, he no longer qualified for services. Through consultation with his classroom teachers, they were able to target his areas for needed improvement.
A screening mid-year by the SLP with Josue
revealed age-appropriate speech and language
skills and readiness for Kindergarten.
"He’s a Dynamo! Nothing will stop him now."
Early Intervention Developmental Group
Ryan was born prematurely at twenty-four weeks. After making minimal progress in his previous
program, his parents were determined to get the assistance he needed. When Ryan’s parents
discovered the Early Intervention Developmental Group at RHSC, everything changed!
The classroom setting connected and enhanced all of his services. Ryan was 3 ½ years old when he finished the program. His parents could not have been happier with his progress.
Within a few short months, his speech dramatically improved and he even learned some basic sign
Additionally, Ryan went from having no interest in walking to running and climbing!
“The clinicians at RHSC have become part of our family. They taught my husband and me how we can best help Ryan reinforce all that he’s
learning in his class. They are always just a phone call away,” said Samantha, Ryan’s mom.
“Thanks to RHSC, Ryan is thriving and
gaining new skills rapidly. He’s a
Dynamo! Nothing will stop him now.”
~Samantha, Ryan’s mom
"It was kind of an accident with how I found you!"
Amie was experiencing mild hearing loss in the summer of 2017. Under the care of her Ear Nose & Throat specialist, she was referred to an
audiologist for further testing. Amie had an "aha moment" upon seeing RHSC as one of the referral options. As her son Alex was already a client, Amie did not hesitate to call RHSC to make an appointment.
Although she had received prior tests at other facilities, Amie felt her voice was heard for the first time when coming to RHSC. Dr. Greg Horton
took the time to listen to her story and understand her concerns.
Amie’s ENT diagnosed her with Meniere’s disease. When she came to RHSC she was provided with an
individualized plan with tailored
solutions. Based on her high satisfaction, Amie has told us she will not go anywhere else!
Early Intervention Developmental Group
Alex, Amie’s son, came to RHSC at
18-months due to a speech delay. Only able to say one word, “Ball,” he received weekly 1-hour home
sessions with a speech pathologist.
With guidance from his speech pathologist, Alex was able to repeat words on demand and felt more
comfortable interacting. After almost a year, Alex was on track for his age!
[Alex’s speech pathologist]
was wonderful with Alex. I loved that
she kept him engaged even when he didn’t want to be. She would go with the flow with him. I couldn’t ask for more.”
~Amie, Alex’s mom