Clara Peterson was just three years old when her parents turned to Minnesota Masonic Children’s Clinic for Communication Disorders to help her learn to talk. At that point, Clara, who was born with Down Syndrome, utilized a mere 30-40 words and some sign language to communicate to her parents and older sisters. The Petersons had tried other places to get help.
“[At Masonic] there is more of an emphasis on getting family involved,” said Clara’s Mom, Mandy. “When we started here, our fears just fell away. Family is immediately included so we can support what is being done in the therapy sessions.”
Clara was matched with Speech/Language Pathologist, Jillian, who instantly discovered her young client’s strengths.
“The girl loves bubbles,” said Jillian of Clara. “She’s got an amazing imagination. Typically, I do well by just following her lead.”
In the nearly two years since Clara and Jillian have been working together, Clara can now speak four- word phrases and has “done really well,” said Jillian. “She’s blown me out of the water with her progress.”
Jillian was particularly impressed by Clara’s growth throughout the months of teletherapy that were necessary due to COVID-19 and the Clinic’s temporary closure. During that time, Clara was able to focus for their twice weekly sessions online. Jillian credits the dedication of her family for Clara’s ongoing success.
“Clara’s parents are really involved and follow through,” said Jillian. “The progress is that much faster.”
Nick, Clara’s Dad, agreed. “We got involved in the PACC (Parents and Children Communicating) Program early on and the whole family got a lot out of that,” he said. “Her older sisters participated, and that has helped tremendously.”