When Mason was two years old, he used about ten words. By that age, most toddlers use over 100 words and string two or more words together to form basic sentences. As a result of his limited vocabulary, Mason had a hard time expressing himself which was very frustrating for him and his parents, who found it difficult to meet his expressed needs.
The family’s experience with Early Intervention came at a difficult time. Mason had just been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy type 3, a hereditary disease that progressively destroys lower motor neurons—nerve cells in the brain stem and spinal cord that control essential voluntary muscle activity such as speaking, walking, breathing, and swallowing. Mason’s mom Tori said that as parents, she and her husband felt powerless and afraid when they first learned about Mason’s diagnosis and didn’t know where to turn for help. Tori says Easterseals helped turn their fear into power and reports that Early Intervention established a base of knowledge that will help Mason and his family throughout their journey.
Mason eagerly looks forward to weekly visits with Easterseals child development specialist Diane Lill. He waits for her at the door, and loves the fun activities she brings. Mason’s mother attributes Mason’s tremendous growth in communication skills to the rapport developed with Diane, supporting his active engagement throughout each session. From ten one-word utterances, he now speaks in three and four word sentences, and communicates much more successfully. His new foundational language skills will greatly support his speech and language development in years to come.
Not only has Mason developed essential communication skills, but his whole family has learned how to promote those skills and make that learning part of their everyday life. Thanks to Easterseals, Mason and his family have been well supported through a difficult and uncertain period in their lives.