November Patient Spotlight: William!

We are a retired military family. My husband, Wally, is a 30-year veteran of the US Army.  Seventeen years of marriage passed before finally having our son, William.  On November 3, 2000, William Ismael Nieves was born at Roosevelt Roads Naval Hospital located in Ceiba, Puerto Rico. We were so blessed and overjoyed to finally be parents and share our miracle with family and friends.  In December 2001, the course of our lives changed.  William caught a cold and developed a high fever.  Within 24 hours, we noticed that William had little to no eye contact, his smile disappeared, and his infectious babbling and laughter were gone.

Tell us your child’s story.

His pediatrician sent us to see a pediatric psychologist and developmental pediatrician. After extensive testing and evaluations, the specialists diagnosed William with developmental delays and autistic-like characteristics. The official diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Severe Communication Disorder came in 2002. The news was heartbreaking for us, and we mourned the life we had planned for our son. We felt helpless but, only for a short while. We had our faith to comfort us, family and friends to encourage us and, professionals to guide us. We knew we had to hit the ground running to find the appropriate resources and professionals William would need to navigate the diagnosis of autism.

Why did you choose APT for therapy services, and what improvements have you seen in your child since they started therapy at APT?

At 20 months old, William began speech, occupational, and physical therapies. These therapies continue to be an essential part of William’s development and progress. We moved to Louisville in 2010 and became clients of APT in 2011. William has been serviced by APT’s skilled therapists and experienced staff for six years. He is non-verbal and uses an augmented communication app on his iPad so, finding the right agency to service his unique needs was imperative. In researching therapy centers in the area, APT was the best fit for us. His current speech therapists, Sara Lynch and Angela Baker, are great at incorporating the latest techniques and strategies into William’s speech/language program. William has improved exponentially in his overall communication and social interactions. Meredith Doyle, William’s occupational therapist, has helped him develop, promote, and maintain the daily living skills needed to navigate and interact with his environment. Physical therapist, Adria Betz, consistently presents exciting ways to address William’s low muscle tone (hypotonia), balance, and coordination.  APT’s therapists are an integral part of William’s developmental and educational program and collaborate with other professionals involved in William’s care. We appreciate all they continue to do for William and our family. We are so grateful to the APT team!

What has been your brightest moment along the journey?

We experience such joy watching William build real relationships over the years with family members, caregivers, teachers and a few select peers. Laughing together at the everyday moments are added blessings to us! In looking back to to the day of William’s diagnosis to where he is now, we recognize all of William’s accomplishments and realize that there are so many! William is indeed a fantastic person!

What advice would you give other parents who face similar situations?

Do your research and be the best advocate you can be for your child. Know that you will likely try a variety of different techniques, treatments, and approaches as you evaluate what is appropriate for your child. Focus on the positives and surround yourself with people who will cheer and encourage you. We have learned the importance of celebrating, being proud of, appreciating, and embracing William and all that makes him a unique, sweet, and happy seventeen-year-old kid.

Speech Therapists, Angela Baker & Sara Lynch, Occupational Therapist, Meredith Doyle, and Physical Therapist, Adria Betz all see William at APT. We asked them to share a little about their journey with him.

How long have you been working with William and what improvements have you seen?

Meredith:

I’ve been working with William since September, 2013!  He was one of my first clients as a new OT.  My sessions with William have always been co-treats, so I’ve loved getting to collaborate with different speech therapists over the years on ways to incorporate William using his “voice” in all that we do.  William has made wonderful improvements with communication and his current device has been specifically tailored to his unique skills and communication needs.  Skills that we target in OT such as visual scanning, visual attention, and fine motor coordination have improved over the years to allow for more successful use of his device to communicate.   William’s current therapy goals focus on life skills such as dressing, participating in meal prep, typing on a keyboard, and other age-appropriate daily activities.  William’s family is wonderful with carryover and is always willing to try new recommendations from me.  William is a joy to work with and I can’t wait to see the progress he will continue to make.

Angela:

I started working with William in August of this year. He has been working hard on using his speech device independently as well as participating in social interactions. He is more consistently able to participate in small talk such as asking “what’s up?”

Sara:

William was one of the very first patients I started working with at APT about a year and a half ago. Though William acquired his AAC application (TouchChat) before I started with him, I have seen him progress in his overall ability to use his device functionally to communicate his wants and needs. One page that William has made and continues to make great strides in is his personal information/social page. Given verbal prompts, he can use his voice via TouchChat to say his name, his birthday, his age, his favorite activities, his pet and his school. We have also been working on greetings and initiating/reciprocating conversation with peers and adults. William is also progressing in his use of various familiar phrases to make requests, especially when requesting his favorite items and activities. While there are still goals we are working toward, it is very evident that William has demonstrated overwhelming improvement in his ability to utilize language so that he is able to functionally interact with those in his environment.

Adria:

I have been working with William since this August and have seen improvements in his overall body strength, more specifically, his hip/leg strength. He also has made progress in his motor planning abilities- performing activities more quickly or only receiving one verbal cue or demonstration before correctly performing that activity.

Describe a little about yours and William’s relationship.

Meredith:

I look forward to my sessions with William (and hug from Mrs. Evelyn) every week. William is so incredibly sweet and easy going. He will try just about anything I present to him. When he gives me one of his big smiles or belly laughs I can’t help but smile. William reminds me of what’s important in life. He finds joy in the simplest of things such music, car rides, a walk in the park, or a trip to one of his favorite places—the beach. William has an amazing support system and a large family that loves him so much. I’m blessed to be a part of his story!

 

Angela:

I love to see William for therapy! He has an infectious laugh and the sweetest family! He is always willing work on whatever I ask him to. I am learning what activities really get him going like jumping on the trampoline or bouncing on a therapy ball. He is always happy to meet new people, which is great for working on social skills.

Sara:

I work with William alongside Ms. Meredith, William’s Occupational therapist (OT) for each session. Greeting William in the waiting room is one of my favorite moments of the session as I can always expect a hug from mom and a big smile and greeting from William. William’s family is incredibly supportive and they have made me feel like family from the first day we met. One thing I especially love and appreciate about William is that he embraces the art of taking one’s time to observe and enjoy his surroundings, which is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a busy day. As William has progressed with using his voice via TouchChat, I have had the joy of seeing his unique personality come through. Though, by nature, William is pretty quiet, he can, also be assertive in letting you know exactly what he wants/needs when highly motivated. William also has an infectious smile and laugh, which is always a treat to experience in our sessions. It has been and is still an incredibly encouraging journey to be a part of and I am thankful for the year I have gotten to help and to learn from William. I can’t wait to see what the next year holds!

Adria:

William is very sweet. He will use his communication device in order to ask to watch youtube or ask to eat a cookie (which I unfortunately don’t have)! He laughs and giggles when we play ball or throw bean bags into a small container. He is very compliant and will do most anything I ask him during physical therapy.

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