When a parent wants the best possible medical care for a child, he or she is willing to do whatever it takes, including making changes.
Kayla Irish, a 33-year-old respiratory therapist who lives in Roswell, NM with her husband Josh and their two sons, Jaxton (4) and Nolan (1), is one such parent.
When their oldest son Jax was diagnosed with “delayed speech” last year, their pediatrician referred them to Kaylin Bartlett SLP, a local speech-language therapist. Irish quickly saw improvement in Jax’s speech under Bartlett’s care.
But when Bartlett’s previous clinic closed, Irish had to find another speech therapist in their area. After a couple of months with the new therapist, however, they didn’t see notable progress.
That’s when they decided to return to the care of Ms. Bartlett, who had started seeing patients at Lovelace Regional Hospital in Roswell.
Once they started back with Ms. Bartlett, they knew it was the right decision, as evidenced by lots of smiles from Jax and noticeable improvements in his speech.
Speech therapy sessions
“At first, Jax didn’t have much of a vocabulary,” recalled Irish. “He also had difficulty communicating his needs.”
Bartlett uses several techniques with her patients, depending on their individual needs.
“During Jax’s sessions with Ms. Bartlett, she will read a book to him and then ask questions about what she just read. This helps to improve his ability to recall words and stories,” said Irish. “In another exercise, she will ask him to repeat certain words and phrases, primarily to help strengthen the muscles in his mouth to form words. They also do a lot of play-based therapy, such as ‘I spy’ and the ‘alphabet game.’”
They have also seen improvement in Jax’s ability to say longer phrases.
“Right now we're working on sentences because he can finally form three to four-word sentences,” Irish said. “Ms. Bartlett will tell Jax what they are doing. She will then ask him what they are doing to see if he can recall and repeat it back. This is one of the things she wants me to do at home to help him progress. It really does work.”
Therapy sessions are also designed in consideration of Jaxton’s recent diagnosis of autism.
“Ms. Bartlett played an instrumental part in helping us get the diagnosis of autism,” recalled Irish. “She spoke with our pediatrician, who agreed to an evaluation. The pediatrician referred us to a psychologist who tested and formally diagnosed Jax with autism.”
This diagnosis helped Ms. Bartlett fine-tune her therapy sessions to include specific games and exercises for children on the autism spectrum, such as:
- Teaching essential words
- Using animal noises to recall animal names
- Providing positive reinforcement
- Using their favorite toys and snacks
- Present them with multiple choices
- Playing sorting games
Fun with food
Jaxton also developed a sensitivity to texture that kept him from trying different types of food.
“Jax didn’t eat a wide variety of food because he didn’t like the feel of certain textures,” explained Irish. “So Ms. Bartlett helped by creating a session of playing with food. She would pour some applesauce on a plate and then she and Jax would put their fingers in it. After he got used to the texture, she would put a small amount on his tongue to taste it.”
Bartlett used this same method to introduce Jax to the feel and taste of other foods like whipped cream or peanut butter and jelly.
“A year ago Jax wouldn’t eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and now he loves them!”
Jaxton has made significant progress over the past year, especially when expressing himself. “You can just tell he is happy because he smiles a lot and will clap his hands,” explained Irish. “When he’s really happy, he likes to jump around!”
Whenever someone asks about Jax’s speech therapist, Irish always recommends Kaylin Bartlett.
“He’s already come so far,” said Irish. “From saying two words at a time to now speaking sentences and spelling words. He’s doing a lot of things that he hasn’t done before. I will never be grateful enough for her care.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our speech therapists, call the Lovelace Regional Hospital Outpatient Rehabilitation at 575.625.3372.