Editor’s note: Mauricer Marshall lives in St. Kitts and is the mother of a child with autism. She wrote this blog post to share her experience of working with Florida-based SLP Sheryl Rosin, who treated her son and is the focus of “A Meeting of Cultures” in the April issue of The ASHA Leader. The article includes links to two short videos of Mathieu’s first and last sessions with Rosin.
Loving, patient, kind and extraordinary—those are the words that best described the friend I had the pleasure to meet in January 2014.
—— was introduced to my family by a mutual friend, Warren Ross. He described her as being the “bees’ knees” in the field of speech-language pathology and autism. He was confident she could best help our 3-year-old son, Mathieu. At the time, our son could only verbalize one word, “Hi.” Ross arranged for us to meet Rosin while she was on a short visit to St. Kitts.
Rosin engaged in a two-hour consultation with Mathieu, my husband and me to gain more insight regarding Mathieu’s speech challenges. At the end of the consultation, she diagnosed him with autism spectrum disorder, but she also said treatment could help Mathieu achieve his developmental goals. Our interaction with Rosin bolstered our confidence in her to help Mathieu, but he’d have to travel to Florida for intensive treatment.
We quickly made preparations to travel to Florida. Although we knew no one, we took the brave step to arrange accommodations with strangers, because we firmly believed Rosin could help our son. Mathieu and I journeyed to Florida and braved temperatures that we were totally unaccustomed to, being from a Caribbean island.
Rosin created a six-week schedule outlining activities included in the PLAY Project program she used. We were greeted with with a very warm welcome from her and her team of graduate students. We engaged in daily floor time play activities to assist with Mathieu’s speech and language development.
The second week of sessions brought tears to my eyes when Mathieu spoke the word “mommy” for the first time. I was elated. The team saw the fruits of their intervention techniques as Mathieu made huge progress and began communicating his needs. I was amazed at my son’s transformation. It was as if Rosin waved a magic wand and brought Mathieu into our world. I had never seen anything like it.
As the weeks went by, a new child emerged. Mathieu progressed from one developmental level to the next. He moved on from his one-word “Hi” to three-word sentences. It was a remarkable achievement by Rosin and her team. Rosin gave our family a gift that no amount of money could purchase. We are eternally grateful for the time, love and patience she bestowed on our son.
When Mathieu interacted with families and friends back in St. Kitts, they were awed at his transformation. He had been unable to communicate or interact socially and now after six weeks of early intervention techniques, he was completely transformed.
We settled back into our daily routine at home, I continued to practice the PLAY Project techniques when I interacted with Mathieu. I was now armed with a technique that I knew could help any child on the autism spectrum. I felt compelled to reach out to other parents in the community whom I knew had concerns for their children.
My compassion for these children and their parents lead me to have discussions with our government on the dire need to get Sheryl Rosin on board to give these parents hope. After many discussions with government officials on the benefits of PLAY Project and early intervention, they agreed to bring Rosin over to use her training and resources to help children reach their developmental goals. Now other children can experience the same life-changing help Rosin gave us.
Mauricer Marshall is Matthieu’s mom and advocate for starting a training program for professionals and school for children with autism on St. Kitts.