Jaxson Graham – Growing and Communicating
February 24, 2022
The Health Foundation first met Jaxson when he was just one and navigating the supports offered by Children’s Allied Health. Jaxson was born with Down syndrome and, also like 60% of babies with Down syndrome, had a severe congenital heart defect requiring surgery 11 weeks after birth. Jaxson required physical and occupational therapies for physical and developmental delays of his gross and fine motor skills.
Jaxson was special right from birth- he is so personable that it is infectious. Everyone around Jaxson (or Jax) benefits from the joy he exudes. He is a people pleaser and loves the human connection.
Now at 7 years old, Jaxson loves the Medicine Hat Tigers, eating popcorn, playing with his little brother Niko and everything Christmas! While he has graduated from his physical therapy, the center of his world is his amazing family and his desire to speak and communicate with them and others.
The speech pathology department within Children’s Allied Health works closely with children like Jaxson in the community and schools. Jaxson has 2-3 appointments a week for speech therapy due to speech apraxia* in addition to his developmental delays due to Down syndrome.
*Childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder that makes it difficult for children to speak. Children with the diagnosis of apraxia of speech generally have a good understanding of language and know what they want to say. However, they have difficulty carrying out the complex sequenced movements that are necessary for intelligible speech.
“Communication is power. Without the ability to communicate a child is powerless and has choices taken away. Communication is everything.”
Asta is Jax’s current Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP), and has been working with him for over a year. Asta understands the importance of communication as she immigrated to Canada as an SLP from Lithuania and worked very hard at her education in North America as English is her second language. “Communication is so important, so I am very empathetic towards my patients who are struggling to communicate. I have been there myself!” Asta was immediately struck by how little he wanted to rely on his AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) technology, which is an iPad with specialized software for non-verbal patients to communicate with. He was very motivated to use sign language and develop his verbalization. Jax has seen great success in this past year as he has transitioned to being 70% verbal and 30% sign language! Jax’s parents feel Asta should be given acknowledgment for how far he has come in this past year.
Asta realized early on that Jax’s family was special. It was early in Covid and there were so many restrictions and barriers, but everyone did their best via Zoom to help him progress. She said, “Every SLP dreams of a family like the Grahams. They are dedicated, loving and follow recommendations.” Working with them has been very rewarding for her.
“We think we are teaching and helping him, but in reality everyone who works with Jaxson is being taught so very much. He is so happy and makes everyone around him a better and happier person.”
Alex & Holly are very thankful for all the services that have been provided for Jax and Niko in Medicine Hat. “All the team together has been amazing in helping the boys grow and develop.”
Alex & Holly have recently opened a home-based business called Brand 47 Coffee Co.
Brand 47 Coffee Co. was founded by the need to create a sustainable business to pass onto our two sons with Down syndrome, Jax and Niko, and the need for caffeine. As parents to children with special needs, meaningful employment, and independence as adults have always been on our minds. We thought the best way to secure this future was to create it ourselves.
At Brand 47 Coffee Co. we provide unique and fun flavored coffee. Our coffee is all small-batch and roasted to order. We work with our green bean suppliers to find single-estate and sustainably sourced coffee.
Our vision is To keep the world Caffeinated. To stay Special. To be Extra.