Real Results from Pediatric Speech Therapy

Lisa and Jeremy Pruitt call their five-year-old son Austin, “a little miracle baby.” Born premature, Austin weighed 2 pounds, 13 ounces and was 16 inches long. He spent the first one and a half months of his life in the neonatal intensive care unit at Toledo Mercy Children’s Hospital where he endured respiratory distress syndrome, inguinal hernia surgery and newborn jaundice.

Unfortunately, Austin’s struggles were just beginning. When he was six-months-old, Lisa and Jeremy became concerned that Austin was not developing as he should. “He wasn’t hitting his milestones,” remembers Lisa.

“The hospital referred us to Help Me Grow, which is a state agency that helps parents with newborns that have developmental delays and disabilities. They gave us great advice and support, and referred us to Firelands Regional Medical Center’s Children’s S.P.O.T. (speech, physical and occupational therapies) for evaluation when he was about 20-months-old.”

Located on the second floor of Firelands South Campus, Children’s S.P.O.T. is specially designed to meet the many unique needs of children with disabilities. The 12,900 square foot of therapy space includes private treatment rooms, a sensory gym, a gross motor gym, a kitchen and a bathroom. The Children’s S.P.O.T. provides pediatric speech and occupational therapy services to children birth through age 18 with diagnoses including, but not limited to:

  • Autism
  • Brain injury
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Developmental delays
  • Down syndrome
  • Feeding and swallowing disorders
  • Fluency disorders
  • Genetic disorders
  • Juvenile arthritis
  • Orthopedic injuries
  • Prematurity
  • Spina Bifida
  • Sensory integration dysfunction
  • Torticollis
  • Verbal or motor apraxia

“Austin came to us as a nonverbal child who only communicated using a few vowel sounds and minimal sign language. He experienced sensory processing difficulties, a lack of fear and concern for his own safety, and displayed significant difficulty with communication, as well as having poor coping, poor fine and gross motor skills,” explained Lisa Horchler, M.S., CCC-SLP, STAR/C, Director of Speech-Language Pathology and Pediatric Therapies at Firelands Regional Medical Center. “He was diagnosed with autism when he was two and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) when he was four.”

For the past few years Austin has received occupational therapy from Lydia Rapson, MOT, OTR/L and speech therapy from Kaitlyn Grabill, M.A., CCC-SLP. He attends Children S.P.O.T. summer groups, designed for children entering kindergarten and first grade who have social deficits.

Austin has made significant progress. “When Austin came to us all he did was scream and cry. He has improved in leaps and bounds the past few years,” said Lydia. Because of the pediatric speech therapy, he now speaks in short sentences, is able to engage appropriately with peers, and attends school at Furry Elementary in Perkins Township. Though Austin will require continued intervention for some time, he has made impressive strides in adapting to his environment through self-control, and the ability to communicate and engage with others.

“Miss Lydia and Miss Kait are a true blessing to Austin and our family. They have developed a strong, close relationship with Austin, which has contributed to his progress,” said Lisa.

According to Lydia and Kait, much of Austin’s success can be attributed to his parents. Lisa and Jeremy are extremely supportive and involved in Austin’s therapy. “They are open to our suggestions and reinforce what we do in therapy at home. They will do anything they can to help their son, which allows us to focus exclusively on Austin,” said Kaitlyn.

To help Austin achieve the best results from pediatric speech therapy, Lisa ensures that his teacher, Ms. Ridge and the Firelands therapists work together. “It takes an army to raise a child with autism. Every day brings something new. Having an autistic child makes you look at life differently or from a different prospective.”

Learn more about the pediatric therapy services provided by the Firelands Children’s S.P.O.T. today.