Katarina’s Story

Where Katarina Started

Katarina can be found on the swing in the motor room, smiling with her blue eyes sparkling and hands flapping. The swing has become her favorite activity at Cornerstone.

When she started therapy, she was unable to tell her therapists that she wanted to swing. Kat would make sounds, but could not pair them with desired objects or activities. Her frustration levels were high, and screaming tantrums were a common occurrence.

“Her tantrums were 10 per day and lasted for hours,” said Director of Operations Megan DeYoung. “Now they’re down to five per day and they are not nearly as long.”

Her therapists taught her a few ASL signs that gave her a way to express her basic wants and needs. For every sign, her therapist would say the word out loud three times to foster approximations for sounds and words. Some of her signs include swing, eat, iPad, cat, dog, book, ball, jump and help.

How Katarina Has Improved

When Kat wants to swing, she will now make the “s” sound to pair the vocal sound with the sign for swing. She can also say “iPad,” “up,” “bye-bye,” and she explores new sounds when she sees herself in the mirror or on camera. Speech Pathologist Robert Kurtz has been working with her on pairing sounds with objects through video self-modeling.

“The most rewarding part of working with her was hearing her say her first word, iPad, on a consistent basis,” said therapist Brittany Royer. “She continues to develop more vocal approximations daily! She also continues to become more independent every day.”

Kat transitioned from full day to half day recently. In January 2015, her tantrums were down to only five per day and were significantly shorter on average than they were months ago.

As her communication expands, her frustration lessons, allowing her personality to shine. Kat seeks out social interaction more than she used to; she likes to play chase with peers, and her mom said to her therapist that this was the first year she played chase with her cousins at Thanksgiving. Her independent skills are growing as well. She is working with utensils during meals, and she will let her therapist know what she would like to eat from her lunchbox by pointing to preferred items.

“I love watching how she’s growing and progressing,” said Royer. “Her frustration cries are less frequent, and she just seems happy. I cannot wait to see how she continues to grow and progress in the future!

To see a video of Kat’s progress on our Youtube channel, check out the video at this link.

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