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Nahlani's Story

  • Author: Nahlani W
  • Date Submitted: Mar 21, 2024

Has your talkative, engaged, and energetic child suddenly become quiet or uninterested? For Shannon L. of Scranton, this was an alarming occurrence that happened with her daughter Nahlani around 18 months of age.

“It was like someone flipped a switch and suddenly she wouldn’t speak,” said Shannon.

For the first year and a half of her life, Shannon remembers Nahlani being a typical baby.

“She was fine, even seemed advanced for her age. Most people couldn’t believe how well she could talk, it was incredible - and then it was just gone.”

As they patiently waited for test after test, Shannon said she also had to be an advocate for her daughter and push the process along.

“They (specialists) didn’t even want to begin to test her until she was 3, but there is something to be said for a ‘mother’s instinct’ because I knew something more was wrong. So, when they were done with one test or specialist, I asked for another one. I also got her started with early intervention so she could get therapy at home.”

Shannon notes that initially, doctors were concerned that a hearing problem led to Nahlani’s loss of speech - and while Nahlani did have trouble with her ears, it was not the cause for her loss of speech. Once a fluid buildup in Nahlani’s ears was corrected and any other hearing deficiencies that may have contributed to her speech delay were ruled out, Nahlani was diagnosed with autism a few months before her 3rd birthday.

“The process took a long time, but she was officially diagnosed with autism, global developmental delay, mixed receptive-expressive disorder, and sensory processing disorder. Another sign of her autism is the tip-toe walking, which she has done since she started walking - so she wears braces and is also in therapy for that,” noted Shannon.

Nahlani began speech, physical, and occupational therapy at Allied Services around 33 months, and now, at age 5, everyone has seen significant changes in her.

Katie Colisomo, M.S., CCC/SLP, Speech Language Pathologist for Allied Services, notes she has seen an incredible increase in Nahlani’s vocabulary since starting her services.

“When Nahlani first started with me, she had a minimal vocabulary. She only had about 10-15 words. She now has a large vocabulary and can label most objects and toys in her environment. Since her vocabulary increased so much, we are working on using her words to form sentences to express different pragmatic functions. She does very well using sentence strips to request (I want object) and to comment (I see object).

“Overall, I’m thrilled with her progress and optimistic about her future,” noted Shannon. “Right now, we’re in the planning phases for what comes next with school, and it’s going to be a big step. But between here (Allied Services), the NEIU, and the Gregory Center, the communication with everyone has been great, and we’re all here to do what’s best for Nahlani.”

Sustaining Pediatric Services - with YOUR help.

Each year, Allied Services provides:

  • 29,784 pediatric therapy appointments.
  • 8,524 hours of treatment to children on Medical Assistance.
  • Services for 1,200 children in the Wyoming Valley.

Each year, the Pediatric Program in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre provides life-changing care to children, many of whom are underinsured or uninsured. Sustaining costly services and ensuring access to care for children in our area has become increasingly challenging due in part to escalating healthcare expenses and restrictive reimbursement rates. The extraordinary annual expenses incurred by the program place these vital pediatric services at risk in the future.