“I just love seeing kids have breakthroughs and start communicating like they should,” says Brianna Rizzo, a speech pathologist at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, whose slacks were instantly streaked with oak tree pollen on her first trip down the slide with Iva. “Active things are motivating and get kids talking,” she adds. Therapies in her clinic routinely take place outdoors like this in a specially-designed playground across the street.
At age 2, Iva barely spoke. Since leaving the neonatal intensive care unit nearly four years ago, she has undergone speech, physical, feeding and behavioral therapies from specialists at the hospital’s Child Development and Rehabilitation Center. Iva’s mom, Emily, drives up from Bradenton weekly to bring Iva to see “Miss Brianna.” “She’s been coming here since Day 1,” boasts her mom.
This week, Brianna and Iva are working on word combinations and three-syllable words, which Iva repeats nicely amid giggles, laughter, and the sheer joy that is a child at play. It was just three syllables that Iva spoke last year that made Emily cry happy tears and immediately phone her husband. “Her saying ‘I love you’ for the first time was the best thing ever,” she says.
Pre-K starts in the fall and excitement builds for both mother and daughter.
The Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation of Florida helps families cover the cost of the initial evaluations for speech, language, and feeding problems, setting the stage for effective treatment.