Special testing helps set pediatric rehab patient on path to improvement
Little Serenity struggled. The 7-year-old couldn’t seem to focus. Her mom would have to repeat herself.
Serenity’s treatment started with an autism-related diagnosis – but Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System experts thought there could be more to the story.
Today, Serenity is doing better than ever, thanks to the determination of Spartanburg Regional’s pediatric rehabilitation program and help from a special Spartanburg Regional Foundation fund.
Looking for answers
For a while, Serenity and her mother were having a difficult time communicating.
“I would ask questions and her responses were just not clear. It made me wonder if there’s something else going on we weren’t paying attention to,” said Terria Miller, a Spartanburg Regional speech-language pathologist.
Serenity’s mother, Kierra, noticed similar patterns. Sometimes Serenity would have a hard time focusing. Kierra might need to repeat herself or say certain words more loudly to get her daughter to pay attention.
Miller thought Serenity might be struggling with auditory processing disorder, a condition in which a child has difficulty turning sounds they hear into meaning. In some cases, background noises may override or interfere with sounds the patient needs to focus on. Other patients may have a hard time with nuances between sounds that are similar.
The bottom line, Miller explained, is that “inputs get all mixed up.”
A special kind of help
She wanted Serenity to undergo extensive testing with a specialist, but there would be a $300 out-of-pocket cost.
Miller turned to the Judy Bradshaw Pediatric Rehabilitation Assistance Fund. The fund helps to cover the cost of diagnostic testing as well as equipment or home supplies that support children’s development but are not covered by insurance.
Bradshaw is a local philanthropist with a passion for helping children. The fund she and her husband Charlie established also supports an annual Christmas celebration that includes gifts – toys, games, dolls – that therapists select to help their patients reach developmental goals.
Spartanburg Regional Foundation manages and accepts donations to the fund.
Serenity’s testing provided information that has helped Miller better focus therapeutic activities during the child’s weekly visits at the clinic.
Serenity’s treatment also includes the use of hearing aids. And her teacher at B.D. Lee Elementary School in Gaffney speaks through a microphone system that makes sounds clearer. Kierra said it all has helped her daughter make major strides.
“Oh, yes – since she got hearing aids, she has progressed a lot in her reading,” Kierra said. “It has helped tremendously.”
While Serenity used to have trouble with the simplest words, Kierra said she can now sound out words on her own and read full sentences. They enjoy reading books together and visiting the local library. “I’m very proud. I’m overjoyed,” Kierra said.
Miller is proud, too. “Serenity has shown great improvement,” she said. “She’s more focused and can attend to tasks better. Her grades have improved.”
At a recent session with Miller, Serenity worked on identifying letters of the alphabet and telling Miller what sounds they make. She seemed to have little trouble with the exercise. Moreover, she responded to questions quickly, was engaged, and seemed happy.
“She’s been doing great,” Miller said.
Seeing children blossom
Working with patients like Serenity is rewarding for Miller.
“I enjoy seeing children who do not have means of communicating initially make progress and blossom,” she said.
Miller and Surratt expressed their gratitude for Bradshaw and others who donate to support children in the pediatric rehab program.
“It is wonderful that we have a fund available for equipment or testing that children may need,” Miller said. “Not all hospitals have that. Knowing that Mrs. Bradshaw loves children so much that she makes this possible – it’s such a blessing.”
To make a donation to the Bradshaw Pediatric Rehab Assistance Fund, visit https://www.regionalfoundation.com/ways-give/families.