Metro Detroit's Kaufman Children's Center helps girl to speak - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Metro Detroit's Kaufman Children's Center helps girl to speak

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MyFox Detroit Reporter

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (MyFox Detroit) -- A suburban Chicago girl seemed perfectly fine until her first birthday. Then something happened that robbed her of the ability to communicate. The words only started to return when her family found help and hope in metro Detroit.

Every little word five-year-old Emma speaks is significant. There was a time she didn't speak at all, but life didn't start off that way.

"Emma was actually perfectly normal and typical for a full year after being born," said her mother Sinead Aylward.

At ten months she started to say 'hi daddy.' That wouldn't last long.

"When she was a year old, she had her first seizure, and then later on she developed infantile spasms, which is one of the catastrophic epilepsies of childhood," Aylward explained.

It would turn out to be a brain abnormality triggering the violent seizures. To stop them, at the age of two Emma would have to have brain surgery, bringing a huge setback in her speech, but then something happened. Emma went to the Kaufman Children's Center in West Bloomfield.

"We had been in speech therapy for about two years, three years at that point, and... had zero success. Nobody really got her, and Nancy got her in five minutes," Alyward said.

"I really wanted her to say 'mommy.' I don't think that her mother had ever heard her say it or at least not for a lot of time. So I just started to say 'mommy' and put a little melody to it and she imitated," said Nancy Kaufman, a speech and language pathologist.

She connected with Emma immediately by encouraging her to sing instead of speak.

"It was so exciting, and then what we have to do is then fade out the melody so that I can just say it, 'This is the way we...' and then she could say 'read a book' without the melody," Kaufman explained.

Now after months of intense therapy, Emma is ready to return to Chicago a whole different child.

"Instead of reaching or grabbing for the iPad, we would want her to say 'I want iPad," and she would get the iPad for a minute, or if we offered her a toy that she didn't want, instead of just tossing it, we would prompt her to say, 'put it away' or 'no thank you,' and she was able to do that," said speech pathologist Kerry Peterson.

"Just moments where I think everybody would take for granted in their child, I mean everybody celebrates 'mama,' it's a big moment, but just all these little things of just 'I want TV' or 'I want a cookie' or I want this or I want that or I want the other, just hearing those words. I mean, we just jump up and down and scream and shout and cheer," said Alyward.

Emma is now going to kindergarten, so this is a very exciting time for her. Her parents know to keep the progress rolling they have to continue the therapy at home, and that's exactly what they have been trained to do at the Kaufman Center.

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