“Purple!” “Blue!” “More!”
Brittany Keller’s eyes brimmed with tears as she watched a video of her son, 4-year-old MichaelAngello Jenkins-Elmore, yelling out words at his speech therapy appointment. “For most parents of a 4 year old, colors are an everyday thing,” says Brittany. “It’s not really a big deal for a 4 year old to identity their colors. For us though, this is everything!”
MichaelAngello met all of his first year milestones with ease: he sat up by himself around 3 months; he was walking just days after his first birthday, and he was babbling basic words like Mommy and Daddy. It wasn’t until MichaelAngello neared his second birthday that his parents started to notice differences in his development. His speech never developed and eventually backtracked until he was virtually nonverbal.
Brittany sought out answers and brought MichaelAngello to Akron Children’s. Doctors recognized his delayed speech and a plan was put together comprised of speech and occupational therapy (OT). The family was in luck — Akron Children’s recently opened a new facility right in their city of Massillon. They are able to take MichaelAngello to his speech and occupational therapy without ever needing to leave city limits.
With MichaelAngello nearing preschool, Brittany began to wonder where to even begin with getting him, and his school, ready. Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician Kristen Stefanski, who sees MichaelAngello every 6 months, was right there for him and his family. “She gave me resources to things I didn’t even know was out there,” said Brittany.
In only 6 months of OT, MichaelAngello uses scissors, can draw a straight line and and a plus sign, and is working on perfecting his circle drawing. MichaelAngello is learning how to focus on tasks like never before.
In addition to his therapies, MichaelAngello recently visited Ophthalmologist Richard Hertle at Akron Children’s Vision Center and it was discovered that Michaelangello is extremely farsighted and needed glasses, which may have contributed to his inability to identify nearby items. Upon putting on his new glasses, he was already making changes. Within weeks, he was talking more, identifying items in front of him like never before and began becoming more focused.
So when MichaelAngello walked in for speech therapy with his new specs, a change happened. He began shouting out colors and other words, some that he had never said before. His Speech Pathologist Theresa Autore recorded the session allowing Brittany to see the amazing improvements.
“Some people told me that once they start talking, they don’t stop and will talk your ear off. That’s all I’ve ever wanted –to hear his voice,” says Brittany about her son. “And now that I have, I cannot wait to hear what MichaelAngello has to tell the world.”