Guest post from Lindsay Naylor, MS, CF-SLP

Lindsay Naylor, a recent Mercy alum, has traveled to Ghana to work with children with autism, and has lived in Costa Rica, where she learned to speak Spanish so beautifully. Here she shares the story of one client we saw in Lima. It was a life-changing event for this family. Keep your eyes on Lindsay…she is destined for great adventures ahead.
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Both Dr. Berkowitz and Dr. Buhler had warned us that during our week at the hospital people would show up at any time for speech therapy bringing their friends, family, sister’s friend’s mother’s neighbor, you get the idea—however, some people we met on Monday actually came at the times we gave them. One of those families was a sweet little family made up of an adorable little 6 year old, a mom and a grandmother. This sweet little girl was dressed in a pink pea coat (even though the gringos were in our T shirts). Dr. Berkowitz and I had the pleasure of meeting and helping this great family. The mother and grandmother explained that their adorable little girl had Down syndrome, was bright and social but did not have many words. After going through an interview and providing tips for mom and grandma to use at home, we played with the little princess and sure enough she was bright as ever, she pointed to every picture we asked her to, she followed all our directions, and she made some requests of her own- pulling us or shoving toys in our hands. I gave our little friend some toys and bracelets and a very exciting microphone (one of those dollar store microphones that will echo what you say).

While the family was explaining that their little lady loved to ‘sing’ songs Dr. B. jumped up and began singing ‘head, shoulders, knees and toes’ Spanish edition. The little girl’s eyes lit up, she jumped right up and the three of us enjoyed 4 or 5 rounds of Dr. B.’s lovely song. During our dance party – we introduced the sign ‘more’ to provide the little girl with a mode of communicating her wants and needs. We explained to the family that using this and other signs or pictures would allow their little lady to communicate until more words came along. It didn’t take but one time before the little girl started using the sign! It was so great and then she was on a roll, poor Dr. B. couldn’t stop singing. Once the little girl learned the power of her ‘more’ sign she was requesting ‘more’ singing and ‘more’ playing. This amazing dance party allowed the family to see that this bright little lady could use different ways to communicate her wants and needs and to express herself. We were also able to teach the family to embrace their little lady’s love for singing. Make everything a song- we told them, sing in the morning when you’re getting ready, sing while you’re making dinner, sing while you’re putting on your shoes- you get the idea. The family loved the idea and while I was giving the family more tips and ideas to help our little friend the princess was busy tugging on Dr. B.’s arm and signing ‘more’ for more singing! It was a very successful session and the little girl was singing her heart out in her dollar store microphone and the family was happy and empowered to help their little love.

Moments like this make my heart so happy. I am so grateful for these adventures. How incredible that we were able to help this little lady, empower her family and give them easy functional tips and strategies that would help everyone. I love being an SLP! Thank you for everything Dr. B., especially your fabulous Spanish song singing skills. Muy bien!

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About Shari Salzhauer Berkowitz

Shari is a speech language pathologist and assistant professor of communication disorders at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY.
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