San Angelo, Texas (TNN) - Jasper, 4, and Owen Metaxas, 8 months are brothers and pediatric patients at West Texas Rehabilitation Center in San Angelo.
“Jasper is here for his speech," said Stephanie Metaxas, the boy’s mother. "He has a speech delay and isn’t talking with kids that are his age. Owen had a minor stroke during labor and delivery and so it killed out some nerves on one side of his tongue.”
Helping Jasper speak and Owen build up the nerves in his tongue, is Speech Language Pathologist Lynsey Billings. She’s been working with Jasper for nearly a year and with Owen for the last five months.
“When Jasper first came to me, he was saying one word at a time - unintelligible,” said Billings. “With Owen, we’re trying to get his tongue to move more efficiently.”
As you’d expect, therapy differs drastically for the boys. Jasper sees Billings twice a week in 30 minute sessions. But the instruction is disguised by fun and play.
“With Jasper, having to imitate the same work many times in a session isn’t fun," said Billings. "But we have a ball pit, zipline, toys, cars, and bubbles that he’s interested in so that helps motivate us to work a little harder.”
The same with Owen, except his therapy is driven by something we can all relate to: food.
“I have to come up with ways that he enjoys through play and interactions to get him to use that side that he doesn’t want to,” said Billings.
Metaxas says the progress she’s seen her boys make is amazing.
“Jasper talks a lot more now, used to not speak at all,” said Metaxas. “With Owen, his tongue is curling and he’s using it more when he sucks on his bottle or eats his snacks.”
As a mother, Metaxas says its been frustrating not being able to help her children, but coming to West Texas Rehab has put her mind at ease. She’s able to trust what Billings is doing for Jasper and Owen.
“You almost feel like a failure as a mom when your kids have issues, and its not in your control," said Metaxas. "They’ve helped us. I’ve felt supported since I first came here, with Lynsey. She’s really helped with Jasper, and now with Owen.”
Billings uses many tools to help the boys, all made possible through donors. West Texas Rehab also ensures therapy to anyone who walks through their doors - regardless of finances.
Saturday, January 18, you have the chance to help them do that with the 50th Annual West Texas Rehab Telethon. CEO Steve Martin says the event educates people on what they do and raises money to help continue their mission.
“Over and over, we have people that watch the telethon and say, ‘I never know I needed your services. I’ve watched for 13, 14 years. Now, I need your services and I know you’ll take care of me.’," said Martin. "The telethon is a way to reach a broader audience.”
You can catch the West Texas Rehab Telethon at 7 p.m. on KSWO January 18. It goes off the air at midnight.
If you’d like to help show your support by bidding on auction items, you can find those by downloading the HandBid app on your smartphone. For more information, visit westtexasrehab.org.