“Colton was the kid everyone looked at in public. At 24 months, he still couldn’t speak. Colton would yell, scream, hit, kick, and bite his message across. He hated the smell of strong foods – they made him gag or vomit. He hated anything on his hands and would scream until we wiped them, but he hated the wet wipes as well and would scream even more. Good luck getting anything off his face without a wrestling match! His face was off limits: no wiping, no touching, not even a kiss goodnight.
Colton was constantly on the move. Jumping here and there, crashing into things. We had him evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder but that was ruled out. We knew he had a speech delay and a sensory processing disorder. I was an exhausted mom. I was a frustrated mom. It’s hard to admit, but I was also a mom who was embarrassed by his behavior. One of the biggest blessings of Children’s Therapy Center Early Support program was having someone explain why our son was acting like this and giving us the encouragement and knowledge to support him.
I was surprised when his first therapist was a special education teacher, considering he had been referred for speech. But Stephanie was exactly what Colton needed. He couldn’t practice speech until we helped him regulate himself. She taught us how to parent him with love and logic. She taught him sign language (“more,” “all done,” “help,” and “please”) so that he could request his needs. She gave us PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) so that meals, snacks, and activities were no longer a guessing game ending in fights and tears. She saw his body and knew a SPIO® would help him gain control. She was right! He was like a different kid with it on. Stephanie saw that music helped him learn and calm himself, and she utilized it. She led a play group where he flourished and was motivated by his peers. Within 6 months, Colton went from speaking 4 to 60 words. He began tolerating wiping. The first person my son ever blew a kiss to was Stephanie. I think that’s a bold expression of the amazing staff that CTC employs.
Colton’s speech therapist, Alyssa, had participated in his playgroup and I think this familiarity made a huge difference. Her enthusiasm really drew Colton in. Alyssa was great at taking Stephanie’s observations and utilizing games and songs to get him to enunciate. She showed us how to break words apart, target sounds, and practice repetition in positive ways.
Colton also received occupational therapy with Marge. Marge really took the time to understand Colton. She observed his reactions and the environmental input and explained all of this to me in a way I could understand. She helped us see how his lack of speech was causing his aggressive behavior. Marge helped us make daily struggles (teeth brushing, hair washing, eating, bedtime) into tolerable and fun routines. She also noticed his weak muscles (hypotonia) and how they negatively impacted the simplest tasks. She taught us how to help him gain strength utilizing household items and games.
I was extremely nervous knowing that Colton would be leaving the Early Support program. All of his therapists and teachers were unconditionally supportive. They worked with me to review notes, prep for the evaluations, and calm any fears I had. With their help, we were able to get Colton the support he needs for the future via developmental preschool.
Colton doesn’t need to yell, scream, hit, kick, or bite to get his messages across anymore. He can use one of the 120 words he now has in his vocabulary. Colton can play with clay or paint with his sisters and wipe his hands calmly. Colton is still on the move but he is not crashing into things. He has much better control over his body and his emotions. Every night now, I can tuck him in and give him a kiss – something that would never have been possible without Early Support and his teacher and therapists at CTC.”