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Each May, Better Hearing & Speech Month (BHSM) provides an opportunity to raise awareness about communication disorders and the role of early intervention services in offering life-changing treatment. The Warren Center, a nonprofit organization that provides professional evaluations, therapy services and support to children with developmental delays and disabilities is proud to report that after beginning to receive services from an early intervention specialist, Tayo an energetic toddler diagnosed with a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder is continuing to grow an impressive vocabulary of more than 100 words.

Tayo’s family brought him to The Warren Center when he was 26 months old due to concerns with his communication. In his initial evaluation, Tayo’s dad reported the child was not using any words at the time and would occasionally imitate some words. He also did not have great play skills or an extended attention span, as he would briefly move from toy to toy and mostly bang toys and trucks on the ground. In between the initial evaluation and initiation of an individualized family service plan, Tayo already began making progress. His mom reported he would say a few words, but still less than 10. 

Since therapy started at The Warren Center, Tayo’s mom would report weekly of ways Tayo was progressing and learning new words. His mom was a key player in Tayo making progress, as she would implement the strategies Tayo’s early intervention specialist showed her, such as labeling object names in play, modeling environmental sounds, such as animal and transportation noises, and modeling functional language.

As Tayo progressed, his mom began keeping a running list of the total words Tayo would say and when he reached 50 total words, his mom celebrated with a special muffin treat. Tayo has been receiving specialized skills training therapy since October 2022 and has made tons of progress. He now says around 130 words, which is a list that continues to grow each week. Working with Tayo’s mom and Tayo is a reminder of the importance of early intervention. Between weekly therapy sessions and mom’s willingness to implement strategies into their daily routines, Tayo has made immense progress. 

Additionally, it used to be difficult for Tayo’s mom to take him to his older brother’s basketball games because he wouldn’t listen to her, he would climb all over the bleachers, and try to run on the court. After strategies and planning with his early intervention specialist, Tayo has a basketball game bag with things to play with specifically during games. He even talks to the parents and other children that are at the game and will play with the cheerleaders once the game is over. Something that used to be stressful for mom is now something fun that her and Tayo can do together while supporting his older brother. One of the moms at the basketball game even told Tayo’s mom, “If you hadn’t told me he had a communication delay, I would have never known!”

To help keep toddlers occupied and focused during special events or even diaper changes parents can create their own “busy bag” with items like pop its, fidget spinners, stretchy strings, mesh and marble toys, squeeze foam balls, coloring books and crayons, play doh, etc. The purpose of a busy bag is to let the child have access to it when they are needing to be kept busy. If the child has access to these items all the time, they will grow bored of the items in the bag, and it will not keep them busy at all or for as long as it originally did. Tayo’s mom understood to only give Tayo the bag for basketball games. To keep the bag interesting, it’s important to swap a few of the toys in the busy bag every so often. When there are a few new toys, the bag feels brand new and exciting. A busy bag does not have to be fancy or expensive either! Most of these things can be found at the dollar store or on Amazon.

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