Best of All: Speech Students

Our Amina Grace Speech and Language pairs have been working hard and making such great progress this fall session, we had to celebrate each of them because our volunteers and staff are so proud! We have officially had the Amina Grace Speech and Language program for one full year, and it has been a great year of impact, communication, and confidence building.

The GiGi’s Amina Grace Speech and Language one-on-one program provides youth, teens and adults with greatly expanded opportunities to evolve and refine their speech and language skills. Effective enunciation, clarity of speech, word order and message meaning are paramount to fostering greater self-confidence, comprehension, problem-solving, school readiness, social skills, independence, and overall quality of life.

Working with Branson this fall has been lots of fun and exciting to see the progress he’s made. Looking back to the first week, he has made significant progress in participating and engaging in the activities and taking turns! Some of the best moments are when we play his favorite activities of passing the ball or tossing bean bags. It has been extra fun the days we have an extra SLP student to play with us, and see Branson get excited to welcome them! 

-Allison, University of Akron SLP student clinician

On Matthew’s first day at GiGi’s Playhouse with me for Speech and Language Services, I had the chance to sit down with his mother and discuss what her main goals for him were. The one that caught my attention most was his ability to recall and memorize his mother’s phone number. His mother stated that they had been trying for years to get him to recall her phone number, but they were unsuccessful, and it didn’t stick with him. I decided that would be one of the biggest focuses within our time together this semester. It’s important to make therapy fun for children in order to maintain their attention, interest, motivation, and interaction. So, I thought what better way to learn a phone number than dance, recall, and repetition. Matthew created a dance move for each different number within his mother’s phone number. Each week we practiced the dance move, recalling the number, sequencing not only just the number, but also the dance moves in the correct order, and practiced dialing it on a phone. Through trial and error, failure and success, Matthew has consistently been able to recall his mother’s phone number several times each session with and without the use of sequencing the images. To have accomplished something that has been unsuccessful for years prior to our sessions in such a short time span of 11 sessions, is just incredible. Matthew’s confidence has shown much growth throughout our sessions as he continues to succeed in his ability to recall his mother’s phone number. Matthew even shared with me in our past session that he has started working on learning his father’s phone number now, outside of therapy. Although he hasn’t completely achieved his father’s number, he has shown some progress, he stated. He was so happy to share this with me! This is a HUGE WIN! I look forward to continuing to watch Matthew grow and succeed in all that he works towards in his speech and language aspects of life. It has been an honor working with him this Fall. 

-Mariah, Kent State University SLP student clinician

I have loved being able to work with Liam at GiGi’s and see the improvement that he has made from the beginning of the semester to now. Some of the best moments have been seeing Liam initiate conversations when he did not previously, use strategies that we have worked on in the sessions, and improve in natural conversation. Going to GiGi’s each week brings me joy and I have found these days to be my favorite days of the week. As a plus, I love getting to see Liam come dressed up each week! From Halloween to Christmas, he always comes dressed for the season with a big smile on his face! 🙂

-Alyssa, University of Akron SLP student clinician

On Rosie’s first day at GiGi’s Playhouse, she had just received her AAC device that same day. It was new to her as well as her family. We started small, with words such as “more,” “stop,” and “go.” Each of these words are considered a core vocabulary word and are part of the 100 core vocabulary words list. She was previously eliciting single words and not communicating her wants and needs properly. On her 11th speech lesson, there was a significant turning point. She was independently using the core vocabulary words that she had been taught in the session in an accurate context, including the word “help.” In this same session, she was using full phrases verbally, and shocked me as a clinician by using her AAC device to tell me “play with blocks,” “play on swing,” and “take baby for a walk.” She had gotten time each session to explore her device and had been sent home with activities to work on her core words in different environments. She has had her device for 13 weeks now, and the growth in this child has been exceptional both through her device and verbally. Her mother’s main goal was for Rosie to communicate her wants and needs at home and based on the progress displayed in the session, this goal is on its way to being met. I have enjoyed working with Rosie this semester, and I would like to think she enjoys working with me. Each session, she gives me a hug, holds my hand, walks into the treatment room, and sits calmly in her chair. In the first few sessions, she ran straight to the toys and we had trouble getting her to attend to the tasks planned for the session. She leaves every session by saying “I love you.” According to her grandpa, she even turned down McDonalds because she wanted to get to GiGi’s sooner! I am excited for her to grow and develop further in her speech and language capabilities.

-Maura, Kent State University SLP student clinician

Toward the beginning of our sessions, Hadlie had limited independent communication. I started working with her using a combination of communication binder and sign language. She is such a bright girl and picked up the language so quickly! I wanted her to have access to this form of communication outside of the therapy room, so I gave her family a communication binder to take home. Next session, Hadlie came back independently communicating her wants and needs that she struggled with in the previous session. In this moment it was clear to me that the resources provided by GiGi’s and her family’s hard work and support had truly made a difference in her ability to communicate. Her skills have continued to grow since, and I am extremely proud of how much progress she has made in our short time together!

-Mary, University of Akron SLP student clinician

This semester’s participants have had great success! One of our students was able to learn his mother’s cell number, after his parents tried multiple approaches to teach him! This is such an important skill! His clinician was able to teach him through visual, musical and movement cues! Way to go, Matthew!  Two other children began therapy with seldom used AAC devices and by the end of the semester both of them were initiating communication (without prompting ) during therapy! We are so excited for Rosie and Bennett! These 3 children set up an obstacle course and played together at the end of therapy sessions. So much fun!

-Susan, CCC-SLP supervisor

In the span of our last eleven sessions, Michael has consistently impressed me with his growth in American Sign Language (ASL). Our journey began with a focus on colors in sign language, incorporating engaging songs into our lesson. Astoundingly, within just four weeks, Michael confidently demonstrated the ASL signs for “red” and “yellow,” a milestone that filled me with joy. Michael brings boundless joy and enthusiasm to each session, creating a vibrant learning environment. Celebrating Michael’s significant strides over these eleven sessions has been a true delight. I eagerly anticipate witnessing his continued growth in the sessions to come. Working with Michael has been a pleasure, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have him as one of my initial clients!

-Mackenzie, University of Akron SLP student clinician

My best of all moment with Brendan this semester has been seeing how happy and excited he is to be working with me each week. Recently we have added in more AAC therapy and Brendan has excelled. He has been doing great at commenting and asking for what he wants. It has been so fun to see his progress throughout the semester. I have especially enjoyed seeing his face light up when he sees that watching James Bond movie clips is an option on his AAC device.

-Rachel, University of Akron SLP student clinician

Bennett has made great progress in using his AAC device over the Fall semester. Starting with 0 words used independently, Bennett now uses 18+ vocabulary words at the phrase and sentence level! He has become a superstar at sound-to-letter correspondence and is spelling 3-letter words with 100% accuracy! 

-Natalie, Kent State University SLP student clinician

Register your individual with Down syndrome for the spring session by visiting

Are you a CCC-SLP interested in donating an hour or two each week to helping make sure more participants get the opportunity to benefit from FREE speech therapy services? Email us at!

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