When the Whitworth family moved to Panama City Beach, son Will was three years old, and in most respects a typical, active youngster with a love of the outdoors and a far-reaching interest in animals. However, while he was quite verbal, it was evident that he was experiencing significant difficulty with his speaking skills. Mom Amanda had to interpret for others what he was trying to say because, although she understood him, no one else could.
One day, at a playground a former kindergarten teacher kindly suggested to Amanda that she should have Will evaluated for speech therapy. The assessment, which took place at Ascension Sacred Heart Pediatric Rehabilitation, revealed that he could indeed benefit from speech and occupational therapy; later, physical therapy was added.
Amanda says that Will always loved going to rehab, and the main reason for that was the relationships with his therapists. They established a deep connection with their little patient by giving the work they did with him a “personal” touch, tailoring their treatment to his interests and always focusing on his progress. As a result, he formed a deep bond with them, which ultimately helped him reach the goals they set. “We will be forever grateful to Sacred Heart. The level of care is just incredible, “ Amanda states.
Today, Will is a first-grader whose speech has improved significantly. And not only has his handwriting become very good, he’s turned out to be quite the artist, continually creating amazing drawings. Amanda describes her seven-year-old son as joyful, creative and determined. “He might struggle at something, but will declare, ‘I’m not giving up,’“ a mindset that can be attributed to the hard work he put into his therapy, and the success he achieved when he persisted. She says, “My favorite aspect of watching him get better at things was this internal growth. To me, it is the most valuable experience he could ever have, and it will last a lifetime.”
Having been through Will’s course of development, Amanda believes it her duty to advocate for children, to share with families how rehabilitation can make a world of difference in a child’s life. She tells other mothers to have trust in the process, to have hope and, above all, to keep at it – because it truly does pay off.