When Emily started therapies at Heartspring Pediatric Services in February 2010, her vocabulary was very limited but she was willing to do whatever it took to learn and grow. Emily first came to Heartspring to receive evaluations from the Heartspring Pediatric Therapy team. Since then, her therapists have had the opportunity to get to know and love her. Her love for structure is apparent in sessions and is what makes her so successful in gaining new skills each day. Emily is a very loving, happy five-year-old. She adores her family and likes school.
Emily has been receiving occupational therapy once a week since April. Initially, Emily required a first work then reward system. At this point in time, Emily does an excellent job with work box systems. She finds a card, matches it to a work box (typically filled with items to assist her to achieve her goals in fine motor or visual motor skills, bilateral coordination, play skills, self help skills, or direction following activities). Mimi French, Emily’s occupational therapist, can always count on Emily to give her a hug right in the middle of an activity, especially if it is one that she is enjoying. Emily used to be able to tolerate five minutes of table top activities and now can complete a 30 minute session at the table working the entire time with her box system and verbal cues. One is certain to get good work from Emily if Dora is present (in any form – doll, sticker, picture, etc.). Emily’s parents are excellent in follow through with home programs. They have followed through on a dressing program to assist with independence in dressing, a brushing program which helps organize the sensory system, numerous fine motor programs, and general strengthening programs.
She loves to come to speech therapy and is very interested in lots of toys. She is so in tune to what happens in therapy that she can tell when a task is going to be hard for her, like working on speech sounds or increasing her length of sentence, then she lets Diane Gough, her speech therapist, know that it looks like too much work. Sometimes she refuses but Diane can usually find ways to present her work that doesn't always seem like work. “If we work on speech skills on the platform swing we usually get a lot more responses,” said Diane. Emily understands almost everything she hears but has a hard time responding in age appropriate sentence length. She has a lot to say but sometimes her oral motor/coordination skills don't allow her to be able to say it in very long sentences. As her attention increases with movement activities her language skills usually do to. When she began in therapy her utterances were usually one word long. Now two and sometimes three words are usual. “As long as we can keep up with her likes for reinforcement we can keep Emily improving,” said Diane.
Emily also participates in physical therapy with Amber Teal where they work on gross motor skills like jumping and throwing. Emily is also working on building up her core muscles so she can grow big and strong.
Emily loves to swing and enjoys music (unless the therapist is singing). When she is swinging, Emily wears the biggest smile on her face. She enjoys “driving” along roads on paper that lead mommy to Emily or visa versa. At the end of each therapy session, one of her favorite things to do is say “Come on in mom,” and when her mom enters the therapy room Emily almost knocks her over with a big hug.
Everyone who knows Emily knows her reward at the end of a therapy session is the Dora sticker she gets at the front desk. The sticker is not to put on her shirt, but to take home to add to her growing collection.