At Easter Seals North Georgia, our programs serve the child, but they impact the whole family. Castin and his family are a prime example of how our Babies Can’t Wait program includes the family in a child’s development.

Castin is the younger brother of talkative, confident Jackson. At two years old, though, Castin wasn’t speaking at all. That lack of communication caused a lot of frustration and anxiety for the entire family. “I would find myself doing everything before he had to ask for anything because I did not want him frustrated,” said his mom, JoAnna. She later learned that she was enabling his lack of talking.

After calling Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program, Castin was scheduled for weekly in-home speech therapy sessions with Ms. Deb. To Castin, it never seemed like his time with Ms. Deb was anything but playing. She used his toys, singing and even his older brother to help him gain words and, more importantly, confidence. Even after the first week, his mother noticed huge progress. “He never had the confidence to speak up, but Ms. Deb helped him gain it,” she said.

With Ms. Deb’s help, the family made a chart for Castin, and, through it, he was able to use pictures to identify his wants and needs. As he learned that word, they would no longer need the picture - it would just become another word in his expanding word bank. They also learned that Castin responded to learning through play. The whole family would sing or blow bubbles to engage him. He also loved learned new words when they were in the car where he was focused and engaged. “It was in the car where the boys would talk to each other,” said JoAnna. “There would be a real dialogue between them.”

Castin’s relationship with his brother also blossomed alongside his speech. “Once he could communicate with this brother, Jackson would want to play with him,” said their mom. Now, Jackson is Castin’s biggest cheerleader and teacher. “Jackson can get Castin to say so many more words than I can,” laughs JoAnna.

Less than a year later, Castin can count to 20 consistently, communicate clearly with anyone and follow directions. His family feels that when he starts preschool in the Fall, he will be able to socialize and be ready to learn.

Ms. Deb has made a difference in the lives of Castin and Jackson. Their mom said, “She is so welcoming of Jackson, and he has learned a lot from her even though the therapy isn’t for him. He has learned to wait his turn and to be nurturing.”

All of Castin’s family’s hard work is paying off in dividends. The other day, without prompting, Castin said, “I love mommy and daddy.” Just the words all parents love to hear.

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