Jaydan and Jordan are four-year-old identical twins that might look alike, but have two very unique personalities. Jaydan is quiet and loveable. Jordan talks more and is very inquisitive. Jaydan has a keen eye for putting puzzles and pictures together. Jordan likes letters and shapes. With all the differences between the two, there is something other than looks they have in common; they both have autism.
Their parents, Danny and Tonya, noticed the boys were not developing language the way they thought they should. They sought the advice of professionals who told them not to worry. Jordan was more verbal than Jaydan, but neither was displaying developmentally appropriate skills. Unsatisfied, Danny and Tonya took them to a developmental pediatrician who diagnosed both boys with autism before their second birthday. Jordan and Jaydan began speech therapy with Molly Murphy at Heartspring Pediatric Services in June of 2009 and come for therapy twice each week.
“Jordan and Jaydan have made so much progress since starting therapy nearly two years ago,” said Molly. “Thanks to the dedication of their parents, they have learned to use the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) flawlessly at home.”
Their vocabulary has expanded so much that they are learning how to point to and effectively use a communication notebook that contains many more words. Throughout this process, Jordan's words have emerged. He is beginning to verbalize the words for most pictures as he points to them, and he now imitates lots of words upon command. In addition to their expressive language skills, Jordan and Jaydan work on receptive language skills like following directions and identifying objects and pictures during therapy. They have also learned how to follow a visual schedule to minimize difficulties during transitions.
“The boys always walk into my room with a grin, eager to work. It is so fun to see how they each develop and express their own distinct personality as they grow and learn new skills,” said Molly. “Their gentle, loving dispositions bring a smile to my face every time I see them!”
Danny and Tonya are dedicated parents who provide every opportunity they can find to improve their children’s education and communication. Jaydan and Jordan participated in the Autism Training Program through The University of Kansas in October on the Heartspring campus. They allowed teachers, therapists and tutors work with them every morning for five days to practice their skills in teaching children with Autism. They drove the boys in each day so they could become more familiar with programming and techniques in Applied Behavior Analysis. “It was amazing to see the boys take an immediate interest in the tasks and to work so hard in an unfamiliar environment,” said Kimberly Becker, director of Pediatric Services.
They are also currently participating in a small group once a week for four children with autism. The group is held for two hours and moderated by Molly and occupational therapist Teresa Young. The children in the group are using Picture Exchange Communication Systems throughout as they work on fine motor, gross motor, academic and social skills. Lacy Cary, therapy aide, also works with the children in the group. “It is truly amazing to see the changes in the boys over the last two years. I just love working with them.”
Jordan and Jaydan know their routine at Heartspring. They know where everything is and they know where to go to get suckers after therapy. For two boys who are still learning to communicate, they have taught us so much.