Resources / Family Stories

Each Family’s journey with Child Development Programs is unique. Parent engagement is a big part of the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program culture. We want to thank our CDP Families who have shared their experiences so that other families might benefit.

VIDEO: Winston & Janet – Multilingual Home

Winston and Janet speak about how they have been able to use the strategies learned in therapy sessions to encourage both English, and Cantonese-learning in their home. Supporting the development of the home-language is important for many families, and to Child Development Programs!

For more information, please watch Gigi’s video, Growing Up Multilingual.

Jasmine’s Story

Sixteen years ago we had the best day of our lives as we became parents for the first time to Jasmine, and also the most shocking, as we found out our beautiful, long-awaited daughter had Down syndrome. It was a condition we were familiar with, but had no idea what to do with. After we took some moments to pause and wonder what our life was going to be like, we were quickly connected to our local Early Intervention Services office. We met our first case manager, and our journey as parents and teachers began. All the services and guidance were extremely important to us as new parents because they helped us navigate this new life that we were given…they made us feel like it was going to be ok…. and they were right! I don’t know how we would have gotten through it all without them. We went on to have 2 more children, which made our family just perfect.

Of all the services offered, one of the most important was the speech & language therapy that Jasmine received through York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program. Communication was going to be key to Jasmine as she developed and became an active member of her community, whether at school or at play. She had many sessions of speech therapy with her favorite Speech Language Pathologist (SLP), along with many hours of practice at home.

Jasmine's StoryThe most important component of this story is Jasmine and her huge successes. She completed her elementary school years with great success, even getting recognized for having presented her Grade 7 Speech about Down syndrome in the gym, a feat most people cringe at. She earned the, “Yes I Can” award in Grade 8 which recognized all the hard work she put into her education over 10 years. She lived a full experience of elementary school, academically and socially, even taking a trip to Ottawa with her Grade 8 class and celebrating it all at her Grade 8 graduation.

Today Jasmine is in grade 11, working toward achieving her Ontario Secondary School Certificate. She is a sassy 16 year old young lady who is very popular at school and around her community. Her communication skills are quite strong, and although people struggled to understand her in her early years, she now makes herself clearly understood. Jasmine is best known for her great one-liners and her overall kindness. She has done a co-op program working with an esthetician in a local salon, and also volunteered at a local day care this past summer, learning how to work with children, something she adores doing.

The road has not always been easy. There have been many struggles and a lot of work has been done. We definitely had many supports over the years and we value each and every therapist, teacher and caregiver who has ever worked with Jasmine. Every bit of help has allowed her to become the confident and successful person she is today. We hope that with all the work behind her, the road ahead of Jasmine will be bright and fruitful. The journey is not over, it’s actually only beginning. Jasmine is a very happy young lady, who loves her life and loves her family. She knows what she likes…and she’s not afraid to tell you! What more can a parent want!

Jasmine’s Mom
September 2018

Arianna’s Story

The York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program (YRPSLP) began seeing my daughter at the age of 3 when she had difficulties in articulation (the way she said the different sounds in her words). Shortly thereafter, when her therapy had ended she had made great gains in her articulation and in talking vocabulary. We were so happy with her great progress in such a short time.

Then suddenly while she was at home in the summer months, we began to notice her stutter. This caused her to be frustrated and at times she was discouraged to talk. The Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) at YRPSLP recommended our family to attend “Family Focused Stuttering Therapy”. It is an intervention program that includes parent-only group sessions and individual parent-child consultations. This therapy had an invaluable impact on our daughter and family.

During this group therapy I was able to share my concerns with fellow parents and the SLP and learn techniques that would help my daughter. The parent-child sessions allowed me to practice the strategies and techniques learned directly with my child. It was an amazing process from beginning to end.

The York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program SLP’s treated our family with great care and respect. I can honestly say that my daughter enjoyed going to therapy and that says a lot! The program itself works if you believe in it and are committed to following through the strategies during therapy sessions, and at home.

YRPSLP has given her back her confidence and it has been over 5 months that we have not heard her stutter. It is an amazing program and we thank you for being so organized and professional. We wouldn’t be where we are today without your guidance and support. We strongly believe in and recommend the YRPSLP. We wish all children who experience speech difficulties continued success.

Arianna and The Aletto Family

Hannah’s Story

Hannah's StoryWe found out Hannah had a hearing problem when she was five months old. She didn’t pass the in-hospital infant hearing test at birth, which is not uncommon in some cases, so we weren’t concerned. She also didn’t pass her follow up appointment at our local community, but it still didn’t raise any alarm bells. It wasn’t until we went to the audiologist for further testing that we found out Hannah had moderate-severe hearing loss, which would require the use of hearing aids. I wasn’t prepared for the news. Never had I thought for a second Hannah had any issues with her hearing. She was responding, smiling, acting like a regular baby.

Hannah's StoryAfter the appointment, some of the early warning signs became more apparent. Hannah didn’t startle when our dog barked, she could sleep through practically anything, and wasn’t cooing much. Realizing my daughter hadn’t heard my voice, or much of what was going on around her for her first five months was really difficult. I wasn’t sure what to do and how to play with my baby.

We quickly accepted that hearing aids were a necessity and didn’t want to waste any more time. We lined up all the appointments and Hannah got her hearing aids on December 23, at 6 months old. We couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas present! To witness Hannah’s hearing aids being put in for the first time was an unforgettable experience for us all!

Hannah's StoryJust two weeks later we had our first appointment with a speech pathologist. It started off as weekly appointments, and as Hannah progressed, turned into every other week. My husband and I would have been completely lost if it wasn’t for the amazing support we received. The speech pathologist taught us practical age-appropriate play, milestones, areas we needed to work on, and answered all of our questions. Hannah didn’t quite meet milestones as fast as some of her peers, but she quickly caught up.

Today, we couldn’t be more proud of Hannah. She will soon be entering kindergarten and we are confident the support we received, and continue to receive, makes the upcoming transition not a concern.

VIDEO: My Family’s Journey – Ashlee

In Part 1 of a 2-part series, Ashlee talks about her family’s first steps with the Infant Hearing Program (IHP) and her son’s diagnosis of moderate to severe hearing loss.

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician, or contact a local hearing clinic to arrange an assessment with an audiologist.

VIDEO: Getting Ready to Listen – Ashlee

In Part 2 of this 2-part series, Ashlee describes getting her son’s first hearing aids and talks about his communication development.

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician, or contact a local hearing clinic to arrange an assessment with an audiologist.

VIDEO: Winston & Janet – Our Journey Begins

In Part 1 of a 3-part series, parents Winston and Janet discuss their first steps, and supports with the Infant Hearing Program (IHP).

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician, or contact a local hearing clinic to arrange an assessment with an audiologist.

VIDEO: Winston & Janet – Unexpected News

In Part 2 of a 3-part series, Winston and Janet talk about their first reactions to learning about their daughter’s severe to profound hearing loss.

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician, or contact a local hearing clinic to arrange an assessment with an audiologist.

VIDEO: Winston & Janet – I hear that!

In Part 3 of this 3-part series, Winston and Janet tell about their introduction to Auditory Verbal Therapy (AVT), and how they have helped their daughter learn to listen with first her hearing aids, then cochlear implants (CI’s).

If you are concerned about your child’s hearing, please consult your family doctor or pediatrician, or contact a local hearing clinic to arrange an assessment with an audiologist.

Matthew’s Story

I’ll never forget one of the hardest days in my life. Matthew was 7 months old and we knew he had some major issues, but really had no idea what was wrong. He had suffered major oxygen deprivation and when he was 1 day old, he started having whole body tremors. They were the scariest thing. They lasted 4 months and I spent the first 4 months of his life sitting on the couch holding him, which was the only thing that seemed to calm down his little body. That day in the follow-up clinic was one I will never forget. Our worst nightmare came true, Matthew was diagnosed with hypotonic cerebral palsy. I was devastated beyond words and sobbed like a baby in front of all the staff (which is so uncharacteristic of me). As the months passed, every fear I had for Matthew came true. He was diagnosed with a vision impairment that is neurological, called Cortical Visual Impairment (CVI). The pathways in his brain that tell him what he is seeing were destroyed. He was cortically blind. He was also at risk for epilepsy and at 10 months old, he started having seizures. They lasted for 7 months. That first year of his life was one of the hardest in my life.

Fast forward to today. Matthew is the happiest and sweetest 4 year old you could meet. His contagious smile lights up a room. His favourite way to spend time is surrounded by kids and he screams with his whole body in excitement. He loves music, singing and always wears the biggest smile on his face.

All my terrible fears did come true for Matthew, but they do not define him. He has taught us more about unconditional love, patience and appreciating all the wonderful small joys in each day. Matthew uses a walker to walk, has a wheelchair stroller, but his favourite way to get around is rolling and moving himself. He is defying odds. I remember seeing the fear in the eyes of the Doctors when he was born, but with a ton of early intervention and surrounding Matthew with tons of love, he is progressing every day.

He has been seizure free for many years. He is learning to see more everyday thanks to the great help from the Blind Low Vision Program and is using his vision now purposefully. That is the positive thing about a brain injury, the brain can create new pathways and we have no idea what the possibilities can be.

Matthew does regular physiotherapy with Early Intervention Services and can ride an adapted bike and walk in his walker. When he was young, he had virtually no tone in his body at all and could not even hold his head up.

Matthew repeats words and sings along with songs. He tries talking and wants to be a part of every conversation. He is starting to use augmentative communication to communicate. And he is able to communicate to us in his own ways.

It has definitely been a challenging few years, but by prioritizing goals and ensuring there is regular communication between therapists, we have a better handle on when to work on what goals with Matthew. Matthew attends a Special Needs Preschool and will attend JK in September.

One of the most important lessons I have learnt, is just to have fun with your child. They are a child first and foremost and having fun as a family and just hanging out can be the best therapy of all.

– Matthew’s Mom, Stephanie

Our Journey Towards A Diagnosis…

Our son is a bright, fun, friendly 6 year old boy. He’s verbal, affectionate and playful… quite frankly, if we didn’t tell you, you’d never know that he has a dual diagnosis of Autism & ADHD. This is the story of our journey through the realization and acceptance that our son is, was, and always will be exceptional.

How did you know?

Honestly? We didn’t.

We had met other children with Autism before and never in a million years did we think that the behavioural signals our son was giving us meant anything more than an epic failure of us as parents (boy, were we wrong). With our then very limited understanding, we thought Autism meant non-verbal, hand flapping, grunting and a visual outward appearance that would indicate that something was “wrong”.

Our son seemed angry & emotional (going from tears one minute to colossal meltdowns the next). He was defiant, rigid, and attention seeking to the point where we couldn’t speak to each other without being abruptly interrupted by him literally jumping on or in between us.

It was our daycare provider who approached us with some concerning signals and recommended we see a pediatrician.
Going to a doctor and having to admit that you basically have NO idea what you’re doing wrong is very difficult as a parent to do but, we did it, and we were referred for service.

What were the signs?

Once we were in service, we started realizing that a lot of the things we just assumed were “quirks” could actually be indicators of Autism &/or ADHD when they happened all together and with the intensity they did;

  • Lining up toys
  • Rigidity in all things (especially schedules)
  • Difficulty with sensory input (loud noises, textures, tastes)
  • Crash Play (Always slamming into something, spinning)
  • A VERY limited, carbohydrate heavy, diet
  • Walking on tip toes
  • Difficulty expressing himself (expressive language)
  • Difficulty understanding what we were saying (receptive language)
  • Echoing phrases, words, sounds, accents (anything he hears, he mimics)
  • A severe lack of empathy or ability to “read” people/situations
  • Attention seeking behaviours
  • Playing NEAR but not WITH other kids (at age 4-5-6)
  • An inability to handle more than 1-2 minutes of seated activity
With those indicators identified, what did you do next?

Well, we went through the motions in early service and learned SO much about Autism, the spectrum, what it all means and how it would affect our lives going forward. We were referred for formal assessment but it was identified that our son needed treatment right away so, while we waited for our assessment date, we started utilizing the York Region Preschool Speech & Language Program. It was there that our son began to develop his language & comprehension beyond our wildest dreams and we were given the knowledge to help continue his progress at home. The assistance we gained through YRPSLP laid a solid foundation of a lifetime of learning ahead.

What does life look like now?

Our son is now in mainstream school and thriving well in Senior Kindergarten. When he has good days they are REALLY good and when he has bad days, they are REALLY bad. We have strategies in place that help us navigate day to day life and we continue to update/change those strategies as he grows and changes. We spend lots of time in treatment & therapy to adjust to our ever changing dynamic and we know we still have a long road ahead. We realize now that we will never know all there is to know about Autism but, we can confidently say that we are experts when it comes to our kid.

What would you say to a family just starting this path?

I would tell any new family this:
“You are not alone and none of this is your fault. It’s a hard road but when you finally have that breakthrough no matter how big or small, it’s worth every sleepless night, every tear, every doubt you’ve ever had. To see them succeed will fill you with an unbelievable sense of joy and accomplishment that you will carry with you always. These remarkable little people will teach you more about love, patience, acceptance and what’s important than you ever thought possible.”

– Brooke C.

Family Story Non-Verbal to Musical Theatre Star Performer Annelise DiPaola

In October 2008, after much convincing from Mom, Annelise’s Paediatrician initiated a referral to the York Region Preschool Speech & Language Program (YRPSLP). Annelise had started to talk, but then stopped.

Shortly thereafter, Mrs. Sun-DiPaola received a phone call from Early Intervention Services (EIS). Annelise’s Intake Forms raised red flags for Autism and EIS wanted to meet. Mrs. Sun-DiPaola, initially in denial, resisted. In December 2008, Mrs. Sun-DiPaola finally went in for a brief screening and met a wonderful Early Interventionist, Michelle. Screening results found that Annelise was “play” delayed.

Between January and February 2009, Annelise had a speech and language assessment with YRPSLP and she was in fact delayed and eligible for a Development Assessment and Consultation Services (DACS) assessment.

While the DiPaola Family waited for their DACS assessment, they started speech-language therapy. Due to scheduling conflicts, Mrs. Sun-DiPaola could not commit to More Than Words® (The Hanen Program® designed specifically for parents of children ages 5 and under on the autism spectrum providing tools, strategies and support needed to help their children reach their full communication potential). Instead, Annelise started one-on-one speech-language therapy with SLP, Liz. Annelise also started private speech-language therapy in Newmarket, and even had a few group sessions with EIS.

After her DACS assessment in January 2010, Annelise was diagnosed High Functioning on the Autism Spectrum.

Mrs. Sun-DiPaola attended TalkAbility™ (The Hanen Program® for Parents of Verbal Children on the Autism Spectrum). Lanni was the SLP leading the program, who also happened to be the SLP that was part of Annelise’s DACS assessment in January 2010. Lanni recommended that Annelise participate in acting/drama for continued therapy reasons.

Annelise was discharged in JK. Mrs. Sun-DiPaola recalls how difficult it was for her to lose the support of the amazing service providers she met along the way.

So, Mrs. Sun-DiPaola (and another Mom, also an Audiologist) committed to helping other families of highly verbal kids with ASD connect after TalkAbility® by starting the York Region Parent Connection Facebook Group (and the private group called YR Social Club within). The group continues to grow strong with many active members!

Mrs. Sun-DiPaola acted on the suggested recommendations and now, at age 10, Annelise’s Biography says it all:

Annelise is 10 years old and this is her first year with The Unionville Theatre Company and it has been truly an amazing experience, she is loving it! Annelise was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of 3, and non-verbal until the age of 4. Annelise was quickly introduced to dance, acting and singing at a young age for socialization purposes. Acting/Drama also teaches her about expression, feelings, role modeling and understanding different characters – something children with ASD have a difficult time with. Annelise has grown to love the stage and she is super excited to be in her very first production. Break a leg Annelise!!

When Mrs. Sun-DiPaola was approached about doing a feature on how drama has been a positive experience for her daughter, she spoke with Annelise. Mother and daughter talked about back when Annelise was 2 years old and was in speech therapy because she couldn’t speak, and how hard it was for the whole family. Mrs. Sun-DiPaola recalls a time it was hard for her to imagine Annelise ever speaking; never fathoming singing and acting. Mrs. Sun-DiPaola told Annelise that if they could help any family see the potential their child could have, then it’s worth it. Annelise agreed!!

Annelise is now performing in Ian Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang at Flato Markham Theatre, presented by Unionville Theatre Company (not-for-profit organization). Here is a link about the show from the Markham Review: (coming February 23-26’2017).

For more information:

Facebook – @UnionvilleTheatre (

World Wide Web –


VIDEO: Winston & Janet – Parent Involvement

Two parents speak openly about their thoughts on parents and families being actively involved in their child’s therapy sessions. Child Development Programs believes strongly that parents and caregivers need to play a key role in a child’s therapy programming to help them reach their potential.

For more information, please watch Osy’s video on Parent Engagement.

VIDEO: Bev and Tim’s Story

Each family’s journey with Child Development Programs is unique. Take a moment to hear Bev and Tim’s story and what they have learned from the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program.

To learn more about the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program, please visit; if you would like to refer your child, please call 1-877-703-KIDS (5437).

VIDEO: Parent Programs – Bev and Tim

Parent engagement is a big part of the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program culture. In this clip, Tim and Bev share their experiences with one of the parent coaching programs that is offered.

To learn more about the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program, please visit; if you would like to refer your child, please call 1-877-703-KIDS (5437).

VIDEO: Dads in the Program – Tim

Tim, a YRPSLP father, has been very involved in his children’s communication programming. He offers a few words of encouragement to other fathers about taking part in sessions.

To learn more about the York Region Preschool Speech and Language Program, please visit; if you would like to refer your child, please call 1-877-703-KIDS (5437).