When we first met Miracle in February 2014, her parents were unsure if she was able to process any auditory language. At her initial evaluation they said that she probably understood less than 3% of what was being said around her, as she had been pronounced deaf in her left ear and had moderate hearing loss in her right ear. In fact, Miracle had been previously diagnosed with Auditory Neuropathy, where the inner ear structure responsible for perceiving sound is thought to be intact, but there were issues transmitting the input through the auditory nerve to the brain. Since the JL methodology is built on the concept of neuroplasticity, and our work is targeted to build these neurological pathways and connections, Miracle was a perfect fit for our programming.
Miracle is now 7 years old and thoroughly enjoys coming to school every day. She has made quite a few friends amongst the students and teachers and lights up any room she enters. Her program focuses on building a strong foundation of receptive language, as well as intensive gross motor and body work to organize her lower brain regions and for physical independence. Miracle has tight muscle tone in all her extremities, which makes gross motor functioning more challenging. At her initial evaluation, Miracle had difficult disassociating the extremities on the right side of her body versus those on her left. She was unable to separate the use of her legs in order to belly crawl or creep; she would creep in a “bunny hop” fashion with her legs moving as one unit. After working these activities on a daily basis for the past school year, Miracle is now able to volitionally move her arms and legs separately and is working on maintaining independent cross-lateral movements.
The JL Methodology places a high focus on completing activities with a specific frequency, intensity and duration. How many times an activity should be accomplished and the specific duration of the activity is outlined on their individual program, but the intensity is integrated into the program through the student-teacher relationship. While working Miracle’s creeping activity, Ms. Michelle is showing how intensity and relationship are the most important components of each child’s progress.
When assessing her language on the initial evaluation, Miracle was only able to receptively identify 3 pictures. Now, she is able to receptively identify over 100 pictures. After working JL programming for several months and developing this strong base of receptive knowledge, Miracle also began a few academic activities; in February, colors and shapes were added to her program. Miracle is now able to receptively identify 7 out of 11 colors and 11 out of 12 shapes by picking the correct one when given 2 options. In addition to receptive language activities, she has also begun working on expressive language activities, both verbally and with sign language. Throughout her day at JL, Miracle is frequently asked to produce some sort of volitional verbalization, a precursor to speech production. Miracle is trying her hardest to make the most meaningful sounds possible.
In addition to pushing for meaningful sounds throughout her day, Miracle is working sign language in tandem with her verbal language. Both skills are useful as Miracle is beginning to communicate her wants and needs with those around her.
A big push for Miracle in the past few months has been her Independent Life Transition (ILT) goals. To work on independence during eating, one of Miracle’s goal is to use a spoon to pick up her food and bring it to her mouth. As she is able to work this several times throughout her day by eating snack and lunch, Miracle is becoming much more proficient with the use of utensils.
One of Miracle’s favorite things is music. On Friday mornings every 1:1 student at JL has the opportunity to attend a group Music Therapy through a partnership with The George Center for Music Therapy. This has become one of the highlights of her week. Here she is showing off her rhythm and imitation skills during Music Therapy.
For more information on Music Therapy, check out the George Center for Music Therapy at http://www.thegeorgecenter.com