The following testimonials have been provided by Small Steps in Speech grant recipients.

Small Steps in Speech,

Through the grant given to us by “Small Steps in Speech” our son, Carter, has been able to continue his speech therapy with the wonderful therapists at Better Learning Therapies.

Carter’s progress at the clinic has been amazing.  This has also given him the opportunity to do so well in his 2nd grade class.

We are so grateful that you could make these funds available to us.  We see a bright future for Carter.

Carter’s Mom

We would like to thank Small Steps in Speech for the generous grant money last year (2021).  We were completely shocked and grateful to receive the grant.  Getting an autistic and developmental delay diagnosis – particularly in speech and communication – is extremely overwhelming as a parent.  It is even more difficult to find out that our insurance does not cover services for autism at all.  This grant gave us hope and so much relief.

By the end of Rowan’s first full year of integrated preschool and therapies (at the beginning of summer in 2021), his therapists and teachers were floored at his progress in vocabulary and being able to communicate his needs with a major decrease in his frustrations.  Through speech therapy, we have all learned how to teach and encourage language through play and everyday situations.  Rowan is now able to make a couple of friends and maintain those friendships.  Since his ability to communicate has increased we are now able to calm him when he is frustrated by using communication and techniques that work specifically for him.  Rowan went from a maximum of twenty words to speaking in full sentences and doing multiplication in one year!

Rowan is growing in the right direction to help him succeed in so many milestones that children experience.  Again, thank you so much for the Small Steps in Speech grant. Because of the grant, we were able to receive on-going speech therapy at a crucial time in Rowan’s development and we are able to provide other needed therapies (like OT) for him.

Most Grateful,

Rowan’s Parents

Small Steps in Speech,

Thank you for generously gifting our daughter Ella a grant.  The grant that you provided paid for 10 sessions of speech therapy at Nature’s Edge Therapy Center.  This allowed Ella to get the highest quality care from an amazing group of people who have changed her life for the better.

Ella was diagnosed with childhood apraxia at age 3.  She struggled to communicate not only with her friends at daycare but also her family.  She knew what she wanted to say but had difficulty creating sounds into syllables into words.  It was heartbreaking to watch her struggle and being frustrated.

This grant has greatly impacted Ella’s day to day life.  In almost a year of therapy, she can produce words and communicate in 3-5 worded sentences at a time.  She can say her ABC’s, count 1-10, she can sing along to nursery rhymes, say her colors, point out all kinds of animals and objects in books, and tells you what she wants to eat.  She has gained confidence in daily activities and tends to participate more in a group setting.

Thank you for this gift.  We truly appreciate it more than you know.

Ella’s mom

Our son was diagnosed with apraxia at 4 years old, after years of speech therapy with little to no progress.  Once we had the correct diagnosis, we were able to find an SLP who specializes in treating children with our son’s specific needs.  We finally started to see some slow progress.  Although we were told that our son should be getting 3-5 sessions per week, there was no way we could afford anything close to that on our own.  We were so fortunate to be awarded a grant from Small Steps in Speech to help us get our son the therapy that he needs.  With an extra session per week, our son has been doing so well, and progressing at a rate that we never thought we would see. A year and a half ago he had no words and he is now speaking in sentences!  It has made a huge difference to our family.  We are so grateful to Small Steps in Speech for being such an important part of our journey!

Spencer’s mom

3 months before my youngest son’s 3rd birthday we got a Severe Apraxia diagnosis. My world crashed around me, I started reading everything I could get my hands on. We had known there was an issue, but now we had a name for it. All i kept reading was how much speech he would need. Our insurance only allowed a few visits per year, and from everything I had read we were going to need tons of ST. I began to panic. We were above the income limits for most all the things people had told us would “cover” his speech, but yet not enough income to afford all he was needing. I finally stumbled upon info on grants, which I had no idea existed. When we got our approval from Small Steps in Speech it was truly an answered prayer. I was thrilled for my baby. The progress he has made over the last year is truly a miracle & I cannot thank you enough for having a part in that! We are truly forever grateful!

Thank you so much for the financial assistance Small Steps awarded to my client, Peyton. Peyton has apraxia and needed an intensive therapy schedule using PROMPT when she first began working with me. Because of the Small Steps grant her family was able to afford the intensive schedule, and it made a huge difference in her rate of progress. She has made so much progress that her most severe symptoms (initial consonant deletion, /h/ substitution for initial consonants, extreme tension with retraction, lack of bilabials) have all but disappeared. Now Peyton is speaking in phrases and sometimes full sentences and being understood much of the time.

Denise, SLP

When Connor began his speech therapy in 2019, he was nonverbal due to apraxia. Thanks to your grant and his speech therapist Rita, he now says two or three phrases and many words. Thank you for helping a little boy discover he has a voice. We will be forever grateful. Connor’s Mom

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving Ari the Small Steps in Speech grant. How does a mother thank someone sufficiently for giving her child the gift of communication? Ari is a sweet nonverbal five year old with limited communication. After six weeks of intense block therapy Ari gained two new signs. Ari learned a sign for “help” and a sign for “no.” These two signs are life altering for Ari. Ari also learned how to combine signs. He now signs “eat that” or “more eat” All of Ari’s therapists are blown away by the tremendous gains Ari made from his speech block. Ari’s gains are thanks to you. May Marc’s beautiful legacy live on through your generosity and all the lives you are changing.
Thank you,
Ari’s mom

Dear Ms. Charney,

First, I would like to thank you and Small Steps in Speech for the grant awarded to our son Jakob to assist with speech therapy.  It is an honor to be supported financially in the memory of Staff Sgt. Marc J. Small.  We would like to thank you and his family for his service and sacrifice to this great nation.

Our son Jakob is a 17 year old young man with Down syndrome.  He is still struggling to develop speech and needs continuous therapy to help him achieve even small steps!  Dr. Thomas Layton has been working with Jakob over the last year and has stated that some progress has been made.  Our prayer is that this will continue.  Without the financial assistance of Small Steps in Speech this would not have been possible.

Thank you again, and we pray that you will have much success in the future with your fundraising.

With all sincerity,

Jakob’s parents

Dear Small Steps in Speech,

The Place for Speech Therapy would like to give a warm thank you to your organization for all the help it has provided to one of our patients.  Our patient has a diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder who initially demonstrated difficulty expressing himself due to his limited verbal speech and overall communication skills prior to therapy.  He is now independently responding to his name, imitating play actions, and communicating his personal wants and needs through American Sign Language, pictures, and vocalizations.  His therapeutic team have reported an increase in his communication skills and ability to interact with his peers and family.

As our patient’s speech-language pathologist, it brings me joy knowing all the progress he has made which would have not been possible without the help of your organization.  We are very pleased with his progress in therapy and are excited for the progress there is to come.

Thank you, Small Steps in Speech, for the generosity and assistance you have granted our client and his family.  We appreciate you for servicing the children in our community.

Warm Regards, Raquel Batrez, M.S., CCC-SLP

Adriel has a diagnosis of autism and when he first came to the offices of Speech Pathway, he wasn’t using a lot of functional communication beyond repeating a few words he heard in videos.  He has made progress since that time, but attending Camp Communicate made a significant difference for him and his family.  Prior to attending Camp Communicate, Adriel would often get frustrated when he attempted to communicate with others.  With help from the grant from Small Steps in Speech, he attended Camp Communicate for two weeks and has made a huge improvement in communicating his frustration and expressing more calmly via his device when he is upset.  Adriel is now more successful with his device and communicating a more clear message.  He is able to use an AAC device to assist with his communication and his user competency after attending camp has greatly improved.  Adriel is not using more verbal communication; he can express one to two word phrases to request.  He can also express 3-5 word phrases/sentences via his device that more clearly indicate exactly what he wants/needs.  Through the help of Camp Communicate and Small Steps in Speech, Adriel is now able to communicate more clearly and consistently with his friends and family.

Amy, SLP

Dear Small Steps in Speech Board of Directors,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your generosity.  Because of your grant our youngest daughter was able to continue receiving speech and language services!

It has been a long journey with many bumps along the way for our daughter Kayla.  We knew early on there were significant speech, language and developmental delays and began looking into early intervention services as soon as she turned 2 ½ years old.  We tried several different services only to find out that we had wasted valuable time.  After she aged out at 5 we decided to pursue private services.  She also had to have surgery during this time.  Unfortunately, due to the surgery (which we had to pay out of pocket for) and the private services, it put a huge financial strain on our family.  We have been striving to keep up with her services and it has been extremely difficult.

After pursuing private services, we began to see a huge improvement.  Her latest evaluation done in May, 2018, now shows she is at a 2 ½ year developmental deficit as compared to the 3 – 3 ½ year deficit just a year ago.  She is showing progress after each session.  Our everyday life has improved dramatically as she is finally able to communicate more clearly which has improved every area of her life including behaviorally.  She is starting to make friendships and is becoming a happy child where before she was mostly frustrated and angry.  We recently saw our extended family who we haven’t seen for 6 months due to living out of state and they were amazed at how much she has changed.

Words cannot express our deepest appreciation to you.  Because of your generosity we have been able to continue private services and our daughter is continuing to improve with each session.  Because of this grant, we were able to breathe a little in knowing that her services could continue without interruption and it took immediate pressure off of us about how we were going to manage to keep up.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your organization and for helping families like ours to be able to do what any parent wants – to be able to do what is best for their child and give them the opportunity to strive in life!


Kayla’s Parents

As a speech-language pathologist serving rural Iowa and South Dakota, I am beyond grateful for the mission of Small Steps in Speech. My private practice, Kiron Speech Path, is in a town of just over 200 people in a part of Iowa where resources like speech therapy can be difficult to access. Through grants provided by Small Steps in Speech, I have been able to watch children and families grow in their communication skills to levels beyond my expectations. One young boy with severe childhood apraxia of speech is now speaking (and joking) in lengthy sentences that can be understood. Another boy who has autism spectrum disorder is now participating in school with peers while excitedly expressing himself in two and three word utterances. The partnership between Small Steps in Speech and Kiron Speech Path has allowed children to make progress, families to learn new skills, and my business to continue to exist. Thank you for giving children a voice!
Rachel, M.A., CCC-SLP

Bennett’s severe apraxia diagnosis requires at least two sessions of speech per week and our insurance only covers 60 sessions per year.  The Small Steps in Speech grant helped Bennett to receive the speech sessions he needed when we exceeded our insurance limit.  He has made significant improvements throughout this last year in regards to his speech and overall development.  We are very grateful to have received this grant to assist with our child’s therapy needs!

Bennett’s mom


Dear Small Steps In Speech,
Our son, Adam, was the recipient of SSIS grant this past year. Adam was born with a submucosal cleft palate, velopharyngeal insufficiency, and was diagnosed with apraxia of speech on top of those challenges at a very young age. Adam has been in speech therapy nine of the ten years he has been alive.
Over the course of Adam’s journey to speak we have hit several road blocks towards getting him the care he needed. One of those came about when he was around age four when he was showing extremely slow progress in traditional speech therapy. We found a certified PROMPT therapist but were unable to convince our insurance company to cover this specific type of speech therapy. At that time SSIS provided a grant to Adam and allowed us to dip our toes in the world of PROMPT. Within a few short months it was obvious that Adam was benefiting from PROMPT. It was the first time Adam made any sounds that sounded like speech! It was amazing and gave us enough evidence to prove to our insurance company that covering PROMPT for Adam would be beneficial for them as well as us. Without the help of SSIS we would not have been able to try PROMPT.
Again this past year in 2018, we were very grateful to receive another grant for PROMPT therapy for Adam. At this time our insurance company had begun denying claims for PROMPT again without any explanation. The grant allowed us time to fight the insurance company and MAINTAIN his therapy in the process. Without the grant we would have had to pull Adam out of therapy at a crucial time. We have successfully fought and won the insurance battle again (three cheers for that! Hip Hip Hooray!!) but it did take many months. Two years ago we were able to take Adam out of the special needs school he had been attending since age two. We introduced him to a mainstream public elementary classroom along with a 1 :1 aide who provided sign language interpreting for him. We are very proud to share with you that through Adam’s continued hard work and your supportive grant providing PROMPT Adam no longer requires the interpreter aide. He now communicates directly with his teachers, classmates, and friends with his very own voice!
We are still on the journey of communication. It still takes Adam additional time to process and form his words. Language does not come easily and reading comprehension is one of his most challenging areas in school. He still has a great deal of speech errors, but he is learning to choose his words carefully that are easier for him to pronounce. I know that he will continue to grow and his speech will continue to improve with effort put in the therapy room. He has come miles from where he started and we would not have been able to see this success and growth without support from you guys!
Thank you for helping us in the journey!
Bless you all!

Adam’s Family

Thankfully, we were able to identify so many of our son’s developmental delays early on allowing him to have professionals assisting with, occupational therapy, physical therapy, ocular therapy, and Birth to Three to name a few. Drew also required two surgeries that we implemented payment plans with the hospitals to pay off. Before we knew it, we were paying a small fortune in various medical bills and therapy sessions. Drew was delayed in speech and knew with pre-school on the horizon, we had to get him the support he needed to build his fluency. When we began seeking out professional speech services one of our first thoughts was “oh no, not another co-pay”! We had to sit down and really discuss what we could afford and what we felt was the most critical for Drew’s overall development. We knew speech was where Drew was the most delayed. And was also an area that caused him the most frustration when he couldn’t express himself clearly. We began searching for different types of aid, and financial support to help keep Drew getting the services he needed. As time and luck might have, we discovered Small Steps in Speech. We are so thankful for this organizations interest in helping Drew better his language skills by selecting him as the recipient of the SSIS grant. Small Steps in Speech proved to be a blessing for us. It allowed us the financial freedom to continue all of Drew’s services by providing him with his weekly speech services for the year!! Drew’s overall personality has been so much better as he has continued to expand his language skills and express his thoughts and feelings. He gets so excited when he discovered new words and meanings that he previously couldn’t say. He’s even been able to start reciting lines from many of his favorite Christmas carols this year! We owe it all to Small Steps in Speech and we can’t thank them enough!

Dear Team,
For years despite a strong desire to communicate, Ephraim was silent. We supplemented his lack of speech with everything from AAC to ASL and in between, all the while continuing speech therapy believing his verbal speech would some day develop. Sure enough, on Halloween last year I noticed he repeatedly opted to use his voice to say thank you for each candy he received rather than signing or using his talker. Since that day his speech has begun to explode and he has truly learned to use his voice to express himself. The intelligibility of his words still has a long way to go, but with continued speech (and specifically PROMPT) therapy, he is continuing to make gains nearly every day. Thank you for your support in making this specialized therapy a possibility for Ephraim. Our lives would not be the same without your assistance.

Dear Ms. Charney-Berardi,

I would like to thank you and your organization, Small Steps in Speech, for the support you have provided to two families who come to our clinic.  In both instances, your support led to a direct change in the quality of these children’s lives.
Let me speak about Eli, the child whose therapy you just helped to underwrite.  He is a charming, quick-witted, 12 year old boy with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, Childhood Apraxia of speech and hypotonia.  When he first came to us earlier this year, he presented with a unique set of communication skills that were intelligible only to the most familiar listener.  He relied on gesture and idiosyncratic word productions to make his thoughts known.  Starting in September, he participated in a 6-week Block, a speech motor intensive using the DTTC methodology and PROMPT comprised of 30 speech motor therapy sessions with a speech-language pathologist, followed by 12 be-weekly sessions, which were underwritten by SSIS.  As a result of his intervention, he is now able to be understood by many more people in his life.  This is a critical time for Eli as he is about to make his bar mitzvah.  It is so important to him to be able to share his name intelligibly, express himself to a larger group and be understood, and feel confident in his communication abilities.  He has made great strides on all these goals as a result of your support.
Thank you for the generosity you have shown to our families.  Please know that it is deeply appreciated and that your funds have been put to excellent use.
Maureen, SLP

To:  SSIS Grant Committee:


My son is Matthew Ravelo and he is 4 years old will turn 5 on February 17, 2020,  He has a speech impairment which is Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  I applied for the grant because I was not able to continue paying for private sessions for his PROMPT therapy.  My son has made major improvement with his speech but still struggles to communicate with his family, classmates and teachers.  He still requires intense speech therapy sessions by a PROMPT clinician who knows how to help kids that suffer from Apraxia of Speech.  It is hard not being able to understand your child when I ask him how was school?  But with intense therapy at school and at the Einstein program that he attends once a week he is getting there.  I am grateful for the approval of the grant as I used it for PROMPT therapy sessions which is what he needs but those clinicians do not take insurance and I cannot afford this out of pocket expense so having the grant it was very helpful.  But now I have to figure out what is the next step for my son as he is turning 5 and will be attending a different school.  But I will always find help for him and make sure that the Board of Education gives him the proper IEP plan that he needs in order to continue getting speech therapy at school.


Thank you,


About a year ago I was giving Trey a bath and he had a hard time getting his words out, he was stuttering and so frustrated.  He looked up at me, pointed at his mouth and managed to say…

‘Daddy, my mouth is broken…’  

Not anymore, son.  Not anymore.

Small Steps In Speech – the first speech therapy grant we were approved for was created in the memory of SSG Marc Small, who died in Afghanistan in 2009.  Marc was a Green Beret stationed at Fort Bragg, NC and he loved the Allman Brothers Band.  Our family can’t thank him enough.


Dear Small Steps in Speech,

I cannot thank you enough for the grant you gave Adrian this year to help cover the expense of her needed therapy.  This was such a crucial year for her to learn, and prompt therapy has helped her speak much more clearly so that most of the time she is understood!  Adrian was even able to read several phonics books at school this year in kindergarten.   Thank you for helping this Mama breathe easier!  We are so grateful for the help!

Adrian’s Mom

Dear Board of Directors,

I am writing today to express my gratitude for the generous grant provided by your organization.  With the money, we were able to provide the speech therapy my son, Jack, desperately needs to overcome challenges due to Childhood Apraxia of Speech.  Before we were awarded this grant, Jack mostly used the sound “ma” to refer to everything.  Today he has over 50 words and has recently started speaking in 2-3 word sentences.  Although he has a long way to go in terms of vocabulary and intelligibility,  the gains he has recently made would not have been possible without Small Steps in Speech.  Your organization  and grant have been a blessing for my son and our family.  I will be eternally grateful for your support and generosity in helping Jack find his voice.


Sara (Jack’s mom)

Small Steps in Speech has been a life-changing resource for our clients!  As pediatric speech-language therapists, we see firsthand what is possible when children have access to consistent, family-centered services.  There is no greater feeling than hearing a child call out to a parent for the first time–or proudly ask a friend to play with them.  Thank you for making those moments possible!

The Pediatric Development Center

This is a fantastic organization!  They are extremely generous and were very easy to work with from the beginning of the application process through completing all the steps associated with receiving the grant funds.  Additionally, there were very responsive to all of the questions I had along the way.  Most importantly, they were there for my client when he needed it most and became an integral part of his development and future success.  I truly appreciate all that they have done.

Ken K., Eric’s SLP

This is a thank you note for SSIS grant that really helped us as a family with a special need child  and helped our son, Kyrillos to obtain speech therapy after he was diagnosed as autistic with speech impairment, it was a strong demand for him to receive speech therapy as a part of his treatment to help him communicate as a typical child.  It was a big struggle for us to provide him with speech therapy as our insurance doesn’t cover it, so we searched hard to find a grant to help us finance that speech therapy privately so we found SSIS which gave us much help and support and open for us the way to give our son the therapy he really needs.  Since he started therapy we noticed the progress and improvement in his speech, pronouncing and communication.  It was a big surprise for us and all that because of Small Steps in Speech’s help.  We are so grateful and thankful for Small Steps in Speech that really give a hand of help to families in need.

Kyrillos’ mom

We are grateful to have received the generous grant from Small Steps in Speech for the sake of our child’s speech development.  Our son has been progressively improving in his speech development since the starting of his therapy.  With the development of his speech we are able to have much more communicative interaction with him.  Along with his communication skills improvement came the development of a higher self-esteem and a much happier social life in general.  This now gives him a boost in launching his educational learning in school.

Thank you Small Steps in Speech!

Small Steps in speech was our first “win” in the very long road ahead in providing our son with consistent and quality speech therapy services.  We live in a very rural area and so speech therapy services mixed with frequent travel to reach qualified providers is a given.  We are thankful for discovering this incredible grant opportunity which awarded our son the ability to keep receiving exceptional care and gave us, as parents, peace of mind and a reprieve from medical bills.  While we are not currently in a position to give back, we certainly share our experience with Small Steps in Speech and hope to one day be able to help other families navigate these challenging and important times.

Small Steps in Speech,

I am writing this to say thank you so very much for giving the gift of speech therapy to our family with this phenomenal grant!  With this grant we received, we were able to continue our expensive journey through intense speech therapy!  Kellan has Childhood Apraxia of Speech and it requires 4-5 a week of speech therapy just to hope for intelligibility.  Thanks to this fantastic grant, and Kellan’s hard work, we have seen dramatic results!  Since we received the grant, Kellan has gone from 1 word/syllable words to 6 word sentences and 3 syllable words!  It’s the most amazing thing to hear.  And I cannot believe just how far he has come in the last 6 months!  Obviously this therapy is crucial and we couldn’t have done what we needed without your kindness and the gift of the grant!  We have a long road ahead but this helped so much!  We are so grateful for the help!  We needed it and we know others do as well!

Thanks again!  From our thankful family!

Kellan’s Family

Dear Small Steps in Speech,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for the grant that was awarded to my son through the Small Steps in Speech program. Jeffrey is 4 years old and he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at the age of three. He struggles with social language and extreme food aversions. The sessions that you provided allowed him to make tremendous gains in both areas. It was especially helpful that the grant time frame began in the summer, as the limited speech therapy that he receives in school is cut down to only a few weeks and I was fearful he would experience regression.

Thank you for Ms. Charney, The Board of Directors, Staff, Volunteers and Donors who make it possible for children like my son to gain a growing confidence in his abilities and provide their families with a way to help. Thank you for Sgt. Marc J. Small, and all the heroes like him whose noble acts serve as an inspiration to all of us.

We would never have come this far without your assistance and generosity. We are forever grateful and truly honored to have been given this opportunity.

Christine (Jeffrey’s mom)

Our son Daniel was diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech and receptive and expressive language delays in June 2015 and a that time was placed in a special education program where he receives speech, occupational and social work services weekly.  Daniel is a very sweet boy who loves school, but is not able to attend mainstream classes due to his delayed speech development.

In order to try to continue to improve his speech communication, Daniel’s Pediatric Neurologist, recommended he receive an additional 3 hours of speech therapy per week.

Our current Employer-Based Medical insurance only covers 60 therapy sessions in a calendar year.  Once these 60 visits are consumed, we must pay for the therapy out of pocket at a rate of $105 per session.  This is an unaccounted, additional expense of nearly $10,000 which was not possible within our current household budget.

Small Steps in Speech provided a monetary grant that allowed Daniel to attend 10 extra speech therapy sessions in 2016.  Daniel is showing constant improvement in his ability to communicate verbally using receptive and expressive language as a result of multiple speech therapy sessions he attends each week.  We truly appreciate this generous grant we received from Small Steps in Speech as we try to locate every dollar available to cover the costs of this necessary speech therapy.

Our deepest and sincere Thanks to all the members of the wonderful organization.

Best Regards,

William and Ekaterina (Daniel’s parents)


After my son Browning received his grant, he worked very hard with his beloved SLP Juilann to increase his intelligibility and fine tuning of specific sounds.  Each quarter, he met his goals.  The one-on-one therapy was wonderful and his progress during the year was amazing.  Entering kindergarten,  he no longer required an IEP. He’s been able to order at a restaurant for himself (a goal written into the essay) and I am no longer interpreting for unfamiliar listeners as I did in the past. He also started reading and is excelling at sound- spelling and writing.
Thank you so much for helping Browning become an independent, confident speaking child.
The Family of Browning

Please read the below testimonial I wrote to my colleagues who meet with children, parents, and families regularly regarding speech services…
Good Morning.  I know most of you meet with many students and families regarding speech and their child’s needs so I just wanted to share the below resource with you and the CST.  Small Steps in Speech is a non-profit foundation created in memory and in honor of Staff Sgt Marc J Small who was killed in action in February of 2009 while serving his country in Afghanistan.  Small Steps in Speech assists children with speech and language disorders by funding supplemental therapies and treatments for individuals.  Their goal is to give children the chance to better express themselves in the world in which we live.
I applied for the grant that Small Steps in Speech offers last year and was awarded enough to provide speech for my son throughout the entire summer (at no cost to our family).  This organization played an important part in my son’s success and the amazing progress he has made.  He is now speaking in complete sentences and making tremendous strides every day!
I hope other families will use this organization to support their child’s speech needs.
Alicia, Luke’s Mother

Dear Sir or Madam:

We are writing today to share our son’s story with you.  Henry was born in February, 2011, the youngest of six, and as he grew, we figured he was just a quiet child.  He didn’t speak, rarely made any sounds at all, and we gradually realized he was using sign language to indicate his needs.  By the time he was 2, however, our primary care physician noted that Henry’s development was delayed, particularly his speech.  The doctor also recognized that Henry displayed some signs of autism.  In the course of discovering the issues with his speech, he was diagnosed with severe congestion in the ears (with no infection), that he couldn’t hear.  Since that time, he’s had seven sets of tubes and an adenoidectomy in order to keep him hearing.  His language took off once he could hear but it is disjointed and often difficult to follow along.  He has little conversation skills yet.

Henry was able to receive services from Birth to Three, Head Start and Early Childhood at the Waupun Area Public School District.  Our older son, Robert, had some issues as well, and it was at school that I met Amy Holwerda, who worked with Robert with his speech.  When Henry came along, his Early Childhood teacher approached me with the opportunity for Henry to attend Hippotherapy with Amy.  Since we are living on a reduced income due to my husband’s work related injuries, the ability to pay for the therapy was out of our reach.  The option of a grant was presented to us.  Naturally we were overjoyed when the grant from Small Steps in Speech was approved.

From the beginning, Henry was drawn to the horses.  He is excited to see his “friends” at the barn.  We have seen him able to express himself more and more, with one goal being him become more social and follow social skills more easily.  Watching him ride the horse is amazing – he has developed his core strength.  Where before he was not physically and spatially aware, we have seen this area take off.  He recently taught himself how to ride a bike, most likely because he has become accustomed to balancing himself on Angel and Teddy, the two horses used for the therapy.  We were told he is a “natural horseman” and he “sits a horse well”.  Just yesterday, Henry walked into the barn and said “Hello, how are you?” to one of the assistants!  This was such a momentous occasion!  I doubt this would have happened if he had not had this amazing opportunity.

I would encourage anyone whose child struggles with social and speech issues to explore hippotherapy.  Without Small Steps in Speech, Henry would not have been able to attend the therapy.  This was life changing for him and for us as a family.  We are so honored to have our Henry awarded with the grant for speech services; this was such a godsend for us, struggling to find the right ways to help our little boy.

Thank you so much, Small Steps in Speech!  We are grateful for your kindness and generosity.  We have had an opportunity to do some research on your organization and realize this was founded because someone dear sacrificed his life for our country.  We honor his memory and also share in your sorrow that this wonderful man isn’t here to know what a difference this is making in the lives of children facing difficulties with speech and language.  No amount of thanks seems good enough in the face of this loss, but please accept our feeble attempt to communicate them.

God bless you,


David and Heidi (Henry’s parents)

It has been over a year now since my son Gavin received the grant allowing him to continue receiving his speech therapy on a weekly basis. He is now attending full day kindergarten in a typical classroom and able to communicate effectively enough. Although he still has many verbal apraxia challenges to overcome he has come a long way. I truly believe this would not have been possible without the speech therapy he received using the funds from your organizations grant. What you have done for his future is beyond words of gratefulness. Thank you does not expresses the appreciation we feel for your organization. We are forever indebted to your organization.

Many Thanks,
Gavin’s Mom

Small Steps In Speech Board of Directors,

I am writing on behalf of my son “Timmy” who received a scholarship to attend the summer camp program provided by ABC Language Stimulation School in Matthews, North Carolina.  Timmy did well in the camp increasing his vocabulary words and attempting to use more purposeful language.  For example, one or two commands such as “airplane” is now “there’s an airplane out there” or “see the airplane up in the sky?”.

Although Timmy continues to struggle with correct word usage in social settings (in part due to auditory processing issues) he has shown that he can retain the right words once provided.  We know Timmy has a way to go but we are thankful for the progress he has made, and we are equally thankful for the support we have received from Small Steps.


Timmy’s Mom

We thank you once again from the bottom of our hearts for your generosity towards our family. The boys have made such great progress in the past few months with Misty. They have worked hard towards their individual goals and learned to play and talk better with each other in a structured environment. We have moved to another metro county and will be changing therapists effective Jan. 8th. I hope you enjoy the attached pictures of the boys playing store together during one of their joint session times. May God continue to bless your endeavors to help children learn to communicate with the world around them. Happy New Year!


Ryan and Casey’s mom

I have seen Austin (not his real name) to address dysfluency on and off over the past 6 years. He came back to see me one year ago (at age 13), presenting with severe stuttering. During that first return therapy session, Austin stuttered on every other word he spoke and read aloud. Of course, when reading along with me (choral reading), he was 100% fluent. Austin’s mother had recently been diagnosed with cancer and was undergoing treatment. This, naturally, had caused a lot of stress on the family. Because Austin and his family did not have insurance, we as an organization were able to fund his therapy for a short while. However, scholarship monies ran out, and that’s when I sought help from Small Steps in Speech. Austin was awarded 16 therapy visits.

Austin made great progress while in therapy. He not only increased his fluency greatly in therapy with me, he also improved while talking to unfamiliar people in our clinic. Austin became confident while speaking at home and at school. When he did have days of increased stuttering, he was able to reflect and understand what vulnerabilities he may have had that contributed to his dysfluency. Austin spontaneously used appropriate breath groups, pull-outs, and cancellations while speaking. When he finished his 16 visits, he was more than 95% fluent in conversational speech.

Austin’s family is bilingual, and many extended family members speak only Spanish. Austin’s stuttering in Spanish was severe, in spite of his nearly-fluent English. He was much less comfortable and confident speaking Spanish, as he was never expected by his family to speak Spanish (although he understood it well) due to his stuttering. Austin was taking Spanish in school, and spent a month in a Spanish-speaking country over the summer with relatives. These experiences and lots of practice increased Austin’s knowledge of Spanish vocabulary, grammar, and syntax.

Therapy sessions were conducted in Spanish for several months. It remained a very difficulty task for Austin to manage his dysfluencies in Spanish. This will be an area in which he will need continual work. However, Austin now has the tools he needs to increase his fluency in Spanish. Because of this determination and the dedication of his family, I have no doubt that Austin will continue to progress.

Austin’s Therapist

This speech grant for our 9yr old daughter who has Down Syndrome is a huge blessing and will help her communicate better with her peers and teachers. We were almost to the point of having to stop her therapy because our insurance wasn’t covering it. It was becoming financially a challange for us when I came across this grant. It brings us great joy to see that others are beginning to understand her more and more. Wr don’t get as many puzzled looks anymore from others not understanding her. She is now able to tell us what she did each day. Thank you for giving back to others. What a great way to honor Marc Small.

Allison’s Mother


Allison is a nine-year-old girl with a personality that sparkles. She is caring and considerate of her family and is truly a social butterfly. She demonstrates poor speech intelligibility and pragmatic judgment skills; as well as, scattered weakness in receptive and expressive language skills. Small Steps in Speech is making it possible for Allison to continue receiving supplemental speech-language therapy and make progress towards her communication and academic goals.

Allison’s Therapist

Small Steps in Speech:

Thank you SO much for allowing XX to attend Camp Shout Out for his second summer. Because of his family’s limited means he would not have been able to attend without a scholarship from Small Steps in Speech.

Attending Camp Shout Out has been a life changing event for XX. Included in this packet are letters and writings by XX that testify on how the experience at Camp Shout Out has impacted his life.

In 2012, XX was able to establish his own communication goals in order to work on becoming a more effective speaker and confident learner. XX jumped into new tasks with energy and eagerness and was willing to work through tasks that were difficult and/or frustrating when prior to his Camp experience he might have given up or removed himself the activity. He has been able to pay closer attention to his fluency and has been observed moving through significant stuttering blocks in order to get his message across. His biggest gain at Camp was his level of communication confidence. Throughout the session he noted to engage in conversation with peers, improve his eye contact and volume, and on one occasion even was brave enough to address the entire camp group.

One of the most powerful memories I have about XX at Camp Shout Out was on the high ropes course. In 2011, he attempted to climb up the 30-foot pole across the high ropes; he made it up to the platform but then began crying loudly and uncontrollably. He needed to come down and did not attempt the ropes course again that session. In 2012, XX confidently climbed the pole and completed the ropes course smiling all the way. When he got back to the ground he was so proud of himself, but also took the time to encourage other campers who were frightened by the challenge.

The life skills that XX has learned at Camp Shout Out are skills he will take with him into school and home. None of this would have been possible for XX without the scholarship provided to him by Small Steps in Speech.

With Much Gratitude,

Julie Raynor, MA CCC-SLP

Camp Shout Out Co-Director

Dear Board of Directors,

I want to express my gratitude for approving my son, Cason, for a grant! Words cannot really express the emotions I felt when I read the letter of approval. I cried when I read the letter to my husband.

For families like mine that are told we “make too much” for Medicaid assistance, yet we cannot afford the high costs of health insurance through an employer, we are left with few options of providing health care for our children.


In March, when I was faced with the difficult decision of removing Cason from speech therapy due to inability to pay, Cason and I were both crushed. It was at a time that we were really starting to see progress in his speech. Cason also thoroughly enjoyed going to speech. He couldn’t wait for his next session. I promised Cason that “Mommy will take you back to speech”. Though I did not know at the time how that would be possible, I wanted to believe it. As the weeks passed, Cason would continue to ask if it was speech day and when he would return. No parent ever wants, nor should, tell his or her child they cannot afford to provide a needed service.

Yesterday when I told Cason that he would be returning to speech, he jumped and yelled, “Yes!”. It is the generosity of your organization that gives children to reach their potential.

Again, please know that my family and I are so truly grateful for your kindness!


Cason’s Mom

July 2012

Dear Amanda,

On behalf of myself, the SPARK Center and the entire Boston Medical Center (BMC) community, it is my sincere pleasure to thank you and Small Steps in Speech for your generous gift of $1928 towards speech therapy classes at SPARK.

As you know, BMC is New England’s largest safety-net hospital. Approximately 75% of BMC patients are insured by government-funded programs and more then half of BMC’s patients are at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Approximately 70% of BMC’s patients are racial or ethnic minorities and 30% do not speak English as a primary language.

Part of the BMC Pediatric Department, the SPARK Center is an innovative, comprehensive care center that focuses on our most vulnerable citizens – medically complex, low income, ethnic minority, urban children and babies, Fifty percent of SPARK kids are under five years old, 42% have experienced abuse and/or neglect, and 85% have special learning challenges.

As previously discussed, Child X, who will receive the therapy that your award provides, has faced very serious and very tragic circumstances, made even worse by the consideration that she is not yet five years old. Your generous gift will provide her with critical skills that will help her to build the foundation she needs to live a successful and happy life.

I can speak for the entire SPARK staff when I tell you that we’re extremely excited by our new partnership with Small Steps in Speech. We look forward to working with you.

Thank you for your abiding commitment to these vulnerable children.

Martha Vibbert, PhD
Executive Director
SPARK Center
Boston Medical Center

Dear Amanda & SSIS Board of Trustees,

Words cannot express how grateful we are that you have chosen us for such a generous grant. I truly feel like I have won the lottery. When a diagnosis of autism happens to a middle class family the helpless, desperate feeling that you have is heartwrenching. We once thought we had “GREAT” health insurance- until a diagnosis of autism pretty much shuts us out. The therapy you have granted us will help us so much and I just wanted to thank you and your wonderful organization. Our Izzy will be able to make huge strides thanks to you and would love to keep you updated on the progress you have helped us achieve. What a wonderful way to remember Staff Sgt. Marc Small. You have all truly blessed us!



November, 2010

Dear Small Steps in Speech and Ms. Amanda Charney:

I am writing this letter to thank you for giving my son the opportunity of acquiring language and speech. He will be able to communicate his basic needs and achieve his potential through this grant. As I write this letter, I think that Small Steps in Speech and Ms. Charney have a great heart and interest in helping children to acquire speech and language. Small Steps in Speech and Ms. Charney, you are helping children as well as families as they can start communicating in a more efficient way. Children can develop language, cognition, and play skills. I am very thankful and happy that my son has been given this opportunity. You are helping my son enormously and we will always keep you in our prayers and hearts. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

Ian’s Mother
New York, New York

During the spring of 2010, we were facing a summer without any speech therapy for our 3 year old son. Our school district couldn’t afford summer school and our insurance wouldn’t cover therapy. You can imagine our excitement when we found out about Small Steps in Speech, applied for the grant, and eventually received a grant to pay for 15 weeks of therapy!! Having an hour long session for so many weeks has helped our son so much. He’s learned many new words, practiced these words, and is just more confident communicating with everyone. Thank you so much, Small Steps!”

Jared’s Mom
Lincoln, IL

I can’t thank you enough for the grant you awarded my daughter to allow her to receive specialized speech therapy for her Apraxia of Speech. Amanda is a 5.5 year old and was diagnosed about 2 years ago with Childhood Apraxia of Speech. We have been doing speech therapy locally for 2.5 years with little progress. When we arrived a the Kaufman Children’s Center in Detroit, Amanda only had single word spontaneous speech and that was limited to approximately 50 words and were not very intelligible by anyone. After working for 4 days with Nancy Kaufman, Amanda now has some 3 word sentences and is more intelligible to others. She has a long road to travel to become resolved, however, because of the grant you gave her which allowed us to bring her to the Kaufman Children’s Center, she now has a better opportunity to become an effective speaker one day. You are a blessing to Amanda and our family. Thank you again.

Amanda’s Mom
Mandeville, LA

Kyra is a charming three year old girl. She enjoys stories, loves playing with her older sister and has a wonderful sense of humor. But she can’t talk. She knows what she wants to say but she can not get her lips, tongue, and vocal cords to work together to form sounds into words. In therapy, Kyra is learning to make speech sounds as she plays with a variety of toys, e.g. saying ba ba as blocks fall down and go boom, saying hi as Jack pops out of a box. Music, movement and signs are also used to stimulate speech development. Kyra will learn to talk but it will involve a long course of therapy. Small Steps in Speech is making this possible for Kyra. Thank you for giving her the gift of communication.

Submitted by Kyra’s speech therapist
Pueblo, CO


The Small Steps in Speech Grant has helped Kyra and our family in many ways. It has allowed us to continue her private speech therapy which had been on a month-by-month basis due to our family’s limited funds. Now we can look forward to continuing her private speech therapy for a longer period. The grant has also allowed us to refocus our energies on her treatment and resolution and move toward the future. Small Steps in Speech has graciously stepped forward and helped where private insurance and the school systems left a gap. We truly appreciated the warmth, understanding, and professionalism along the way. We feel blessed to have learned of your grant and the opportunity you have shared with us. Thank you Small Steps in Speech for helping Kyra!

Submitted by Kyra’s parents
Colorado Springs, CO

January 7, 2012

Dear Small Steps in Speech Team,

I wanted to thank you so much for the kind grant for my son, Finley. This has helped our family tremendously. His speech sessions with the therapist have really helped him. We hope to continue with her in 2012. He is saying so many more words and communicating much better. I know continued speech therapy and interventions will continue to help him. Y’all are a huge blessing to our family and we wanted to thank you and tell you Merry Christmas.

God bless,

Finley’s family

Dear Amanda and Small Steps Members,

I’m writing to tell you how much my family and I appreciate the grant that we received for my son, Julien, last spring. Since receiving the grant Julien has been able to attend speech every week for one session a week instead of twice a month previous to the grant. This has been a great help to Julien making progress in his speech as well as other areas such as reading and writing. He is now attending third grade here on the Oregon coast. …His teachers in both classrooms have been very impressed by Julien’s progress in speech within the last 8 months. I too have noticed a significant improvement in his ability to communicate since attending private speech therapy more often. My family and I greatly appreciate this grant and we hope that Small Steps can continue to help others as much as it has helped out us. Thank you very much from all of us.

Submitted by Julien’s family

Small Steps in Speech has been such a wonderful opportunity for both Tomas and Joseph.
For Tomas it has meant an opportunity to receive individualized therapy, which is focusing intensely on a small handful of goals. Over the past 6 months, Tomas has made tremendous gains with both his expressive and receptive language. He is now making spontaneous requests and more consistently comprehending orally presented information. His family found such an asset and opportunity when they discovered SSIS.

For Joseph, he discovered words! He came to therapy almost completely nonverbal now Joseph is using words daily, many which are completely clear. SSIS awarded Joseph the opportunity for a customized therapy program which fits his specific needs.

Both these boys are enrolled in the school system and receive services through the schools; however, it just wasn’t enough! Lucky for Tomas and Joseph SSIS stepped in to award these young boys with a gift of service something that their families will be forever thankful for. As the provider, I am grateful for the opportunity to work with these young children and also make an impression with their future.

Submitted by Tomas and Joseph’s speech therapist

Westminster, Maryland

June 17, 2010

Dear Board of Directors of Small Steps in Speech,

Time and time again, we have heard from those who love us that we can count on them for support. By now, many have heard of the many trials children on the Autism spectrum battle on a daily basis, and of the hardship families endure both emotionally as well as financially. The 80% divorce rate figure among couples with children on the Autism spectrum that has been widely reported has not gone unnoticed by friends and family and we know that they pray for our Celina and for our family constantly. Nonetheless, there are needs that can’t be addressed by love alone.

What most people don’t see are the tears, the meltdowns, and the frustration from child and parents when something as basic as speaking is a challenge. Looking back, it’s not easy to forget the countless times mom, dad, and daughter would end up on the floor, a heap of exhausted emotion, all because there were no answers to simple questions like, “what’s wrong?”, “does something hurt?”, “did someone hurt you?”, “are you hungry?” “mad?”, “tired?”, or “do you need a hug?”.

Speech has been the cornerstone therapy for all of our Celina’s successes. The Autism diagnosis came at the age of 23 months for our 6 year old daughter, and even then, we knew that the diagnosis would not define Celina, but rather the prognosis would be shaped by our determination to retrieve her from the Autism that had taken her from us. All treatment comes at a price, and for our family, the grant from Small Steps in Speech is truly life altering. It is a great relief to not have to think about what we can give, versus what our Celina needs, and what she needs, is to continue her Speech therapy.


We’ve gone from two to three words used to request the most basic of needs, to having the honor of being able to get to know our daughter. With every passing day, aided by her Speech therapy, we see emerging a witty, girly, diva personality, who can now voice her wants, needs, preferences, and love. Just last week, we witnessed Celina’s first unprompted question! She pointed to a flower, and asked “Mommy, what’s that?” Mom responded, “A flower”. She giggled and asked again, “what’s that?” Mom said, “It’s a daisy”, and Celina replied, “Daisies are beautiful, Mommy.”

On June 14th of this year, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary, and it was our daughter who gave us the most amazing gift that day. On our way home from her first day of summer school, Mom asked Celina if she wanted to speak with her Dad on the phone, and when she took the phone, she proceeded to have a REAL, unprompted, unrehearsed conversation with Dad. She told him that she’d had a lot of fun, and that her new friend had made poor choices in school that day, and that she (of course) had only made good ones. Oh, and that she wanted chocolate cake for dessert.

Thank you and God Bless you, Board of Directors of Small Steps in Speech. Slowly but surely we are getting back the giggly, bright-eyed daughter we thought we’d lost. With your help, our Celina continues to find her voice one Glorious, Small, Step at a time.

Warmest Wishes,

Celina’s family

Small Steps in Speech is a wonderful organization. They have made it possible for Noah, a child with autism spectrum disorder, to receive speech therapy. Noah has limited speech, and with the opportunity to receive therapy he has been making progress in his ability to make requests, to describe items, to respond to questions and to name items. These verbal skills have enabled Noah to respond to directions, to use speech as opposed to behavior to request items, to interact with others in his environment and to learn concepts in his school setting. I strongly support the Small Steps in Speech organization. They are making a difference in the lives of children by providing the means for them to attend speech and language therapy.

Noah’s speech therapist

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Dear Ms. Charney and the rest of the Small Steps in Speech Family,

Let us honor the memory of Staff Sgt. Marc J. Small. His memory will live on in the voices of the children Small Steps in Speech organization helps forever more.

The letter of approval of a grant for an iPad2 for our beautiful son, Dylan, is an answer to our prayers! Please, please accept our deepest gratitude. I cannot express in words how much I know that this will help Dylan further his communication. Dylan is such an amazing boy. I believe he is destined to do so much good I this world. Thank you so much for believing in him, just as we do. I am amazed by the generosity in your hearts. I cannot tell you how much this is going to positively affect this amazing boy.

I wish you could meet Dylan. I know I am looking through parent’s eyes, but he is the most incredible boy. He is so full of love, co compassionate to others, so happy; yet so full of tears in his eyes when he is unable to communicate his pain or his desire to play a game with another peer. Dylan often will grab a toy car and play by himself or try to mask his pain when we can’t understand where it “hurts.”

I hope you don’t mind that I have placed your letter of acceptance in his memory book we had started at his birth. I want him to possibly understand later in life how people can be so kind and selfless even to someone they have never met.

Bless you all. Bless the memory of Staff Sgt. Marc J. Small.
Dylan’s proud parents.

March 12, 2012

Small Steps in Speech has contributed greatly to the development of speech for my client. Because of his disability, he was not producing any speech or functional speech sounds. The grant provided for my client allowed him to begin to receive the oral motor speech therapy needed to begin initiation of speech sounds, and an understanding of the function of speech production. Without this help, my client would still be struggling to begin to find his voice. Although it is still a long journey ahead, his parents now have hope that one day soon they too will hear their child’s words. Speech is the window to a person’s soul, and Small Steps in Speech has opened the window for my client.

Speech Pathologist/Myofunctional Therapist

Dear Small Steps in Speech,

Thank you so much for giving my son the opportunity to continue his speech therapy. The grant was very helpful to attend speech therapy session:; during the summer months, since the school is out. Since he started working with Ms Lynsey I have noticed improvement in his behavior, not just his language abilities. He is not as angry as he used to be whenever he is trying to express himself.

It is very unfortunate that our health system doesn’t recognize the needs of kids like Justin, but we very fortune because of people like you. Because of your help Justin is getting better every day and I can’t wait for him to go back to school so his teacher can see how much of progress he has made over the summer months with your help.

Thank you so much for everything you do.
God Bless you and your Families.

Justin’s Mom


Camp Jersig 2013


April 10, 2014

Dear Sir/Madam:

I’d like to sincerely thank you for awarding David a grant to pay for speech. We have seen amazing progress in a very short time! When we began the grant period, David had a 6 month span between his receptive and expressive language. Three months into the grant period, that gap has closed and his receptive and expressive skills continue to increase too! This is really a double blessing because many with special needs plateau and don’t advance so quickly. Not only has there been considerable improvement in language, but we are seeing marked advances in other areas of his life. He is beginning to read phonetically. Others are understanding him. He is becoming more self sufficient and participating better in group activities. I hear new expressions David has picked up from movies and stories such as “Hip hip hooray” and “never mind”. He is beginning to form sentences using the correct verbs in the right sequence.

The grant money has also allowed our family to “breathe” a little easier. Our health insurance continues to be expensive with no compensation for speech unless a high deductible is met. We thank you again for your generosity! It has truly been a gift. The grant not only provides financial assistance but also contributes to an individual’s chance to advance. Thank you for blessing our family!

David’s Mom
Ocala, FL


Excerpt from follow up letter:

I wanted to share with you the wonderful sentence that David spoke a few days ago. His dad was arriving home and our flogs, KD and Sammy, were excited. He said, “Mom, KD and Sammy are excited Dad is home!” We were so excited and praised David immediately for such a wonderful sentence! He continues to improve consistently in his speech. We have waited so long for this! Thank you once again for allowing us to receive this grant!

 David V (437x580)


To the Generous Team at Small Steps in Speech,

…I am the mother of one of your grant recipients. My son, Jonathan, was awarded a grant at a time that was pivotal in his speech.

As a 3 year-old, Jonathan’s preschool teacher and his pediatrician was very concerned that he wouldn’t be able to start school at 5 years old because his speech and communication skills were so delayed. We were, and continue to be, thankful for the monetary gift you provided to our family so that Jonathan could complete his course of treatment with Julie. Your generosity came at a time that was crucial in his progress. I am happy to say that he will be graduating from kindergarten next week and has done exceptionally well both on an academic and social level.

Although we know it is not an expectation, we have recently been blessed and we want to “repay” the money you provided to us with some additional funds so you may provide the gift of speech to another child in need. We know the importance this therapy holds first hand, and we would never want a child to forego treatment due to financial challenges.

Please know that we are an extraordinarily grateful family who truly benefited on so many levels from the gift of your organization.

Jonathan’s mother

reagan p

Jacob K














Jacob K pic (286x211)


Dear Small Steps in Speech:

I just want to thank you for awarding a grant to my son. Lucas was born with a cleft lip and palate and has undergone multiple surgeries to correct those problems. Because of his cleft his speech has also been affected and Lucas has been in and out of speech as the structure of his mouth has changed. Lucas had been seeing a private speech therapist that we loved but because of a high deductible insurance plan and my husband‘s employment ending, we decided to have Lucas take a break from speech. After several months, we started to notice that Lucas was beginning to have difficulty with new sounds, problems he had never had before, and his overall speech was becoming sloppy. I felt the need to get him back into speech therapy, but with our financial situation couldn’t do so. I decided to apply for the SSIS grant and we were fortunate enough to be recipients. Lucas is now back in speech and is making strides toward better speech and better sounds. I am so grateful for SSIS and making this possible for my son.


Lucas’s Mom

Lucas Patten

14-594 Whittaker (2)

14-594 Whitaker_provider (393x326) (2)

14-579 Allison

14-579 Allison photo


14-597 Depew_parent

14-597 Depew_provider

testimonial dec 10 2014

Frankly, it was little easier to write the application request for PROMPT therapy than this testimony, because now I have a 5 year old interrupting me with constant chatter in the background!!


What a difference PROMPT speech therapy has made in our lives!  This time last year we were working on fluency with an AAC  (which is now collecting dust).  Today she is working on sight words, articulation, and writing.  Improving Jordyn’s motor planning has not only helped intelligibility, it has spurred a language explosion.  She speaks in sentences now and sings songs.  I have precious videos of her singing in front of our family.


From the time we took Jordyn to her initial PROMPT evaluation – I was super impressed with the PROMPT approach.  First off, our clinic only takes kids if they think they can help.  As a mother, the integrity of that policy spoke volumes.  About 20 minutes into the initial PROMPT evaluation, her evaluator, Ginny,  prompted Jordyn for a sound, and she made the correct sound.   Jordyn couldn’t do that before, and I will never forget that.  I was convinced!  Jordyn has oral motor planning problems and her therapist, KaraLynne, trains her how to make the correct sounds.  Something different about PROMPT than other speech therapies, is her therapist always gives us “homework.”  Her homework consists of fun ways to incorporate what she learned in the previous session in everyday life.  What I notice, as her mother, is the synergistic effect this therapy has in conjunction with all other efforts.  For example, as she gains control of movements and her speech intelligibly increases, she gains confidence and speaks more positively impacting other aspects of her improvement.


Looking back at the grant application videos, about 9 months ago, she could only answer questions in one or two words phrases.   Now, she can talk about what she wants and answer questions.  As she becomes more and more intelligible, her confidence increases.  As her mother, one of the moments I will always remember is when Jordyn came home from school, and sang “God is so Good.”   Jordyn is able to express her ideas and share her opinion.


“Small Steps in Speech” and PROMPT therapy has been life changing.  Jordyn will go to kindergarten next year.  She will be in a class with her typically developing peers.  Although she will probably still need some speech therapy next year, she has a voice to share her feelings and ideas.


I cannot thank “Small Steps in Speech” enough for helping us obtain PROMPT therapy for Jordyn!!    As her mom, please let me express my gratitude for the voice in my house distracting me from this letter.   Because of this therapy, my little girl has a voice in this world.  Her future is bright!



Arlington, VA

lindsay testimonial

ethan testimonial

brooklyn testimonial

walter testimonial

ian testimonial

14-639 Gabriel testimonial

14-639 Gabriel pic

14-462 Walter follow up testimonial


Maya testimonial





stephen 1

stephen 2






























Thank you so much Small Steps in Speech for awarding Izzy with the LAMP Words for Life communication app. Having access to this app on her personal Ipad has given her the ability to use the app and communicate with her family and friends on a daily basis that she would not otherwise have. As Izzy continues to grow in her knowledge and independent use of vocabulary and grammar on this app during speech therapy, it is helping her when communication breakdowns occur in her every day life with family and friends. Her mother stated that Izzy will go to her Ipad app and try to find the words to say when others are unable to understand the message she is trying to communicate. Izzy has also learned that she is able to talk about important people or topics that are meaningful to her by being able to use these words with a touch of a button. Having access to using this communication app has improved her ability to socialize with family and friends. She is now able to use names of important people and be part of the group when talking with others. She has come so far already and has only a positive direction to go with using her LAMP Words for Life app to fully express herself. Thank you again for this grant. It is changing a life!

Kate, SLP


Words cannot describe the peace of mind that was given to me (and my family) when we received the grant from Small Steps In Speech.  My son, Peyton, struggled with speech early in life and was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech at around 2.5 years old.  Insurance did not cover any therapy sessions and the cost was starting to become a burden.

With the sessions the grant was able to cover, Peyton’s speech has exploded.  He is understood by family and strangers alike.  Peyton is almost 5 now and to see him finally able to express himself with clear words and sentences is such a blessing.  He has really started to come into his own and interact with his peers.  I fully believe Peyton will be at the same level of speech and communication with other kids by the time he starts kindergarten.  Not only did Small Steps in Speech give us the therapy we needed, but it also aided in giving me the tools to help Peyton continue his successful journey with speech.

Thanks so much for everything you have done for our family!


Jade (Peyton’s mom)


Dear Small Steps in Speech,

We would just like to thank you for the grant for Sierra.  She has been attending speech therapy now for about two months and loves it!  Her speech has improved greatly throughout these past few weeks and she is able to communicate more clearly when is talking to people.  She loves to talk so she enjoys being understood.

I am so thankful to Small Steps in Speech.  Every time I take her to speech therapy, I feel incredibly blessed to be a recipient of this grant.

Thank you for helping Sierra improve her speech.


Jen (Sierra’s Mom)

Our son Weston was diagnosed with Apraxia of Speech when he was 3 years old.  He was completely unintelligible at the time of his diagnosis.  We, with the advice from his speech therapist, made the decision to not put Weston in Pre-K during the 2014-2015 school year because we knew he was not capable of learning phonetics and did not want to add additional stress to him.  With lots of hard work, Weston has had great success in Kindergarten this year.  He is reading at top level in his class and excelling at all his other subjects.  This success would not have been possible without the financial support of Small Steps in Speech.  Thank you for investing in Weston’s future!

Weston’s Mom

Just a year ago, Weston was approximately 30% intelligible to the familiar listener.  Therapy consisted of targeting sounds at word level and working hard to improve motor planning difficulties secondary to a diagnosis of apraxia of speech.  Weston has made significant gains since then.  Today, Weston is approximately 70% intelligible to the familiar listener.  Therapy consists of production of sounds in connected speech and motor planning has improved greatly.  Weston’s confidence and awareness continue to improve weekly.  Weston’s success comes from hard work on his part and a dedicated family who attends therapy appointments faithfully and works hard at home.  Thank you Small Steps for your support of Weston and his family.

Elin (Weston’s therapist)

To Small Steps in Speech,

I can not thank you enough for the grant that you provided for my son Harmon.  This grant allowed him to stay in therapy after our insurance ran out and he has made tremendous progress.  He has gone from having no words a year ago to now saying up to 15 words and has become so much more social and happy from the skills he has obtained from his therapy.  This grant was a huge help to Harmon and our family and made a major difference for us.

Thank you again for your kindness for our son.


Elizabeth (Harmon’s mom)


Dear Amanda Charney,
I want to express my sincere gratitude for this financial grant which will allow my child to achieve her goals in speech therapy. Currently she is excelling at speech therapy at Medley Mesaric Therapy Associates. Since she is on the autism spectrum, basic communication was very limited and not understood by others. Now she is able to communicate with basic fluency with speech staff and even the family! Previously my child was not able to communicate with any members of the family but now she is able to form full sentences.
I am truly grateful that your organization has been able to help my family connect our child to a wonderful speech therapist. Without the grant from Small Steps in Speech I would not have been able to see my child grown and excel in speech. Now she is on her way to communicating more! Again my family and I cannot thank you enough for your generous contribution.
Hai-Ly’s mom

Dear Small Steps in Speech Staff

Hello!  Where to begin?  How can we ever adequately express our gratitude for our very generous grant we received for Romie’s speech therapy?  Learning of her Apraxia diagnosis was obviously devastating and came with a daunting sense of worry.  Would she ever be able to speak intelligibly?  Will she be able to get a job someday?  Would she ever become so frustrated, she’d give up and no longer try to speak?  Will she be bullied someday for sounding different?  But on top of those worries came the overwhelming worry of how will we be able afford the therapy that she so desperately needs, that amounts to a small fortune?  We were very blessed as we found an amazing speech therapist here in Denver that not only has Apraxia experience/training but also has a daughter with it.  She has been an invaluable resource to us and thankfully she informed us about your amazing organization.  We will never forget the feeling of receiving word that we had received our grant.  We actually cried tears of joy and relief.

It is pretty overwhelming to think about the truly wonderful people out there that donate to organizations like yours that make these grants possible for people like us.  It is truly heartwarming and we feel so incredibly blessed to be on the receiving end of this incredible generosity.  We vow that someday when we’re back to two incomes and out of the financial woes that come with one income and speech therapy, we will give back!  We will definitely want to return this generosity and help other families like us and please know that as Romie gets older, we will inform her about your organization and how you made this wonderful difference in what has been a very difficult time in our lives.  We will strongly encourage her to give back someday too when she is able.

We are elated and so very proud to report that Romie has made and continues to make amazing progress thanks to her intensive speech therapy.  She still has a very long road ahead of her with learning to pronounce words and sounds correctly and she still really struggles with using correct language BUT she is much easier to understand.  While it is still a habit of ours to interpret for her when speaking to unfamiliar listeners, we are finding it more and more unnecessary as she is getting that much more intelligible!  She is able to carry on a conversation with us and that has given us more joy than words can express.  She was able to tell us about a dream she had recently about seeing Cinderella and getting a hug and kiss from her!  She frequently tells us what she wants for her 4th birthday and even her 5th!  She can tell us in simple terms what she is learning at school.  None of this would be possible if it wasn’t for her amazing speech therapist, Laura Smith.  And Laura Smith wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for people like you!  You guys are literally helping to give our daughter a voice!  How can we ever express the gratitude we feel?  Please just know that we feel so much joy, relief and gratitude.  I have tears in my eyes now as I think about it.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!  We are eternally grateful!


Katie, Martin, Romie & Baby Ryan


Small Steps In Speech,

We want to say “THANK YOU” from the bottom of our hearts for awarding us with the Small Steps in Speech Grant.  Over the course of the last few months we have heard “NO” many times and quite frankly our faith was beginning to waver.  We are tirelessly seeking out any and all opportunities to further Kinley’s development.  We have applied for numerous grants, appeals, federal programs, state programs and various forms of assistance to no avail.  Your grant was our 1st success story.

We wanted to send you a family photo so that you could personally see the family that your generosity will so greatly benefit.  Kinley is a happy, loving, healthy 2 1/2 year old.  She loves books, puzzles, Dora and her family.  It is our hope that through our hard work and generous people like you that Kinley will one day reach the potential that life holds for her.

It is with the deepest appreciation that we thank you for your act of kindness.  It will not be forgotten.

With love,

Kyle, April & Kinley

Dear Small Steps in Speech,

Our family will forever be thankful for the speech therapy grant we received for our three year old son Graham.  In May of 2015 we took Graham to Pittsburgh for an evaluation with David Hammer.  At that time he was diagnosed with moderate to severe childhood apraxia of speech.  He had been in speech therapy for over a year at that point and was making no progress.  He had a handful of words and signs he used for communication.  After his evaluation, David Hammer helped get us set up with one of CASANA’s Apraxia boot camp therapists Pam H.  What a blessing she has been to our family.  Immediately she began seeing Graham three times a week for thirty minutes of individual therapy.  We have good insurance but it only covers 20 speech visits a year at 80%.  The cost of therapy was quickly adding up but Graham was finally starting to make progress and we were determined to do whatever we could to help him.  That is where the Small Steps in Speech grant came in to help us!  Our grant provided 20 sessions about six weeks of speech and took a large financial burden off of our family!  It not only provided financial help but also hope that with the right therapy Graham would be able to find his voice.  I am so excited to report that since our grant began in January, Graham has had an explosion of speech!  His vocabulary has expanded, he is now speaking in 5-8 word sentences and his intelligibility has improved significantly!  With his speech has also come self-confidence and he is making friends and starting to talk to people he comes in contact with on a daily basis.  Thank you Small Steps in Speech for helping us make sure that Graham was able to receive the speech therapy he desperately needed!  Graham’s future is bright and we owe a part of that to you!

Lance, Holly and Graham B.

Gretchen is a 4 1/2 year old and was diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech when she was 2 1/2.  At the time she had around 5 sounds and was in the process of learning some signs to make communication easier.  She was very frustrated but also very smart.  She knew what she wanted and would figure out how to get it without having to talk.  Since Apraxia only affects the muscles of her mouth, tongue and jaw and not anything cognitive she understands EVERYTHING!  But when she is not able to effectively express herself it has lead to some very frustrating times.  We were in conventional speech therapy at this time and didn’t realize that was another type of speech therapy that could possibly help her more effectively.  It was called P.R.O.M.P.T. speech therapy.  P.R.O.M.P.T. stands for Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets.  With this therapy the therapist uses touch cues to the patient’s articulators to manually guide them through a targeted word.  We thought this was actually what Gretchen needed but the therapy was not covered by insurance and we would need to figure out how to pay for it.  The Small Steps in Speech grant was instrumental in allowing Gretchen to receive this therapy.  With this grant she was able to receive this therapy 1 or 2, sometimes 3 times per week for 11 weeks.  This had made a noticeable difference in her talking and communicating.  She is not only attempting more words and sentences but she is more understandable to the people that are around her all the time.  Because of this she is also less frustrated.  She also is attempting to say her name, which admittedly is a VERY difficult name to say with her diagnosis.  I am not sure that a stranger would understand her saying her name but her family does and we are SO thankful!

Gretchen has a long way to go with learning to conquer Apraxia but with the help of the SSIS grant she most definitely is making Small (HUGE) Steps in her Speech!

Dear Small Steps in Speech Board of Directors,

Thank you for the grant.  I really appreciate it.  It has help my daughter’s speech improve from what it was eight months ago.  My insurance limits the number of speech therapy sessions, and without this grant my daughter would not have been able to continue with speech therapy.  Working with her therapist, my daughter has been able to produce new sounds and become more consistent with the sounds she knows.  I have seen a lot of progress with her speech.  I know that without the grant, my daughter would not have progressed as far as she has.

Again, thank you Small Steps in Speech.  May God Bless this wonderful organization!


Candice (Holly’s mom)

Dear Small Steps in Speech,

My son, Adam, was a recipient of a grant to help cover the cost of his speech therapy.  Adam began speech therapy at Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center at the age of 13 months.  It was a very slow process.  We had great therapists who were very experienced.  They found great ways to help us communicate with Adam, and at 2 ½ years old helped start us on our way to using an Augmentive Communication Device so we could understand Adam’s wants and needs.  We also began using sign language to help boost Adam’s language skills and our understanding of his wants and needs.

When Adam was four years old one of his trusted speech therapists gave us devastating news.  She told us in the kindest, gentlest way possible that she was afraid she had exhausted all of her skills in working with Adam.  She was the most highly trained person at the large hospital to work with Adam, but she felt that we were wasting Adam’s precious time to continue with her.  She advised us to seek out a PROMPT therapist.  Adam used American Sign Language in short sentences to communicate, but the only sound he could make was “Ny-Ny” and “Mama”.  Other than those sounds he was silent and he would only use his sounds with a great deal of encouragement and effort.

I set out immediately researching PROMPT and found we were lucky enough to have a very good PROMPT therapist within driving distance of our home.  However, our insurance would not cover the therapy because she was not in-network.  We felt desperate so we went ahead and scheduled an evaluation.  In the two hours we were there just for the evaluation I could tell PROMPT was going to be the answer to our prayers.  We began treatment immediately and began hearing actual sounds from Adam that we had never heard before.  He has continued PROMPT and continued to make steady progress gaining the ability to produce more sounds which eventually turned into syllables and now words.  Last year at the age of 6 Adam began speaking out loud in sentences.  This year we have discovered with great delight that many times strangers such as waitresses and other parents at the park will understand Adam and respond back appropriately.  In fact he even ordered his own meal at a local restaurant this week.  Adam has come further than I ever imagined.  There was a point that I worried he would never speak.  Now I know he will, because he is.  He still has a long road ahead of him as he is learning each individual sound and how to connect different sounds together accurately.

We owe so much thanks and gratitude to Small Steps in Speech for supporting Adam’s progress.  It is difficult to manage all of the therapy alone and when you add in the insurance complication and denials is can sometimes seem like too much to handle.  It was a weight lifted off my shoulders when we received the letter indicating that Adam was a grant recipient.  Thank you SSIS so very much for helping Adam find his voice!

In addition, it was through the SSIS grant program that I became aware of CASANA.  Although Adam was diagnosed with Apraxia early on, we had not connected with CASANA until we found SSIS.  Adam has so many other medical diagnosis taking my time and research that I had overlooked what a wonderful resource CASANA could be.  Since then our family has become very involved in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Walk for Children with Apraxia.  This year I am a member of the planning committee for the walk which I am very excited about.  This opportunity has allowed me to connect with other local parents who are traveling down the same road we are with their child(ren).  This connection is more valuable than words can express.

Thank you Small Steps in Speech for all that you are doing.  You are truly making a difference!


Molly (Adam’s mom)

Thank you so much for allowing my son, Cole, to receive additional speech therapy.  He was chosen for a SSIS grant in Fall 2015.  At that time, he had very few sounds and no spoken words.  Since then, he has definitely found his voice.  He has improved so much with the help of this additional speech therapy.  Thank you to your entire organization for helping children like Cole!

Sarah (Cole’s mom)


Dear Small Steps in Speech,

We are writing to thank you for the opportunity that your grant provided for our son, Zachary.  Not only did this grant honor the memory of Staff Sgt Marc J. Small, it allowed our son to attend a speech/social skills therapy group that was not covered by our insurance.  This “Friendship Group” included conversing about many topics, books, short videos and worked to improve speech through crafts and play.  Zachary is on the autism spectrum and struggles with ADHD so the one on one and group focus on his speech, table work skills and play skills was key.  We have definitely seen progress in several areas including his ability to converse more clearly using full sentences, as well as improve on his ability to participate in group activities, stay on task and ask friends to play.  As we entered the clinic each week, it was great to see him talkative and happy as he walked down the hall toward the room where he would join his friends and practice these skills.  We saw some of these skills carry over into his regular kindergarten school day!

Zachary still has a lot of work to do as he will enter first grade in a few weeks but we are very proud of the progress he has made and are thankful for his attendance at the therapy group.  It was such a relief not to have a financial burden as we seek to give our son what he needs to help him shine!  Thank you for playing a vital role this past school year in Zachary’s growth!


Joe and Tisha (Zachary’s parents)

Dear Board Members,

I received a generous grant for speech and language sessions for my son Tyler.  Tyler is a non-verbal child that communicates primarily with an iPad using the app Proloquo2go.  He is diagnosed with several autism and apraxia.

I would like to update you on Tyler’s progress.  He is making huge progress in his speech sessions.  He has begun to string sentences together on his iPad, such as “I want ____ please”.  He has started to form two words together vocally.  He is indicating “yes” or “no” for something he is asked.  He is labeling actions on his iPad when shown different actions.  He is labeling body parts, which will help in the future for him to tell me what part of his body is hurting him.  He has even said “good” once or twice when asked “how are you?” The programming is his Proloquo2go app is being added to constantly, allowing him to learn more speech.  Tyler’s overall approximation of words is expanding for him each day.

The speech therapy being at home has been such a lifesaver.  The therapist is able to use his natural environment to promote his vocal words, which Tyler works better for someone in this setting.  For example when he is on the swing he has said the words “go up”.  He is more relaxed at home and willing to work and connect to his therapist.  In addition, Tyler’s maladaptive behaviors continue to decrease because he feels he can communicate his needs.

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.  With your help it has allowed Tyler to continue his speech therapy and progress.  I know it’s going to take a long time for him but just as the name of your company says “small steps”.


Tracy (Tyler’s mom)

Ethan was diagnosed with autism when he was 4 years old.  At that time he was unable to express himself and would only echo others’ speech.  All I wanted was to hear how his day went at school.  Now four years later, after much ABA and speech therapy, Ethan is not only able to tell me about his day but he now expresses his dreams of becoming a movie director.  He can look deeply into my eyes and tell me he loves me.  Now he can hilarious jokes that crack up the whole room.  As he was able to express himself more and more, I watched his tantrums dwindle. I am so grateful to every professional along the way that gave Ethan a chance and believed in him.

We have made so much progress, but we are still far from our final goals.  Ethan still struggles with expressing himself properly.  Past, present and future tense are difficult.  Before and after concepts are foreign and he’s often misunderstood by his peers.

I have been continuing his much needed speech therapy out of pocket after our insurance denied our claims.  In reading the insurance handbook I found out that “developmental disabilities” are exclusion criteria for Speech, Physical or Occupational Therapy.  I was frustrated to tears.  It has been a financial burden but we have done what’s needed for our son.  That’s why I am so grateful to Small Steps in Speech for this grant opportunity.  We have six months to breathe.  To not worry about how we will pay for this essential therapy.  Words cannot properly express our gratitude for this tremendous gift.  Thank you to everyone at SSIS for your dedication to this future generation.  What you do makes a difference.

To   Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to take this time to thank you.  Over 2 years ago our son was diagnosed with ASD.  He had no communication skills including receptive language.

Over the years of various therapy schooling etc. we saw some progress but not to the level we had hoped…and then we found Speech-in-Motion!  Unfortunately the price was out of our budget.  And then we discovered Small Steps in Speech.  Your organization was able to make this unique therapy possible.  Tina Rocco of Speech-in-Motion was like finding the missing piece to our son’s therapy.  Brody has never bonded with a therapist so quickly nor have we seen such progress in such a short amount of time.  In just the few months he has been working with Tina we have noticed huge progress.

For the first time in a long time we feel hope, hope that someday we will be able to have a conversation with our son.

There are no real words that can describe our gratitude.  Thank you for all you do.


Robyn (Brody’s mom)


Dear Small Steps in Speech:

Organizations like yours are such a blessing for children that need therapies to help them communicate with everyone around them.  We want to thank you for your assistance for helping our daughter with her speech therapies.  Sophia has Down Syndrome, which already presents speech challenges.  Your assistance came during a much needed time, as she had other health issues with her vocal cords that caused her speech to regress.  Through your help, Sophia has gone from close to non-verbal to expressing herself using her words and imitating others.

Unfortunately speech therapy is not covered by many insurance companies and Small Steps in Speech helps so much to fill this gap in coverage with their generosity.

Thanks from the bottom of our hearts,

Brian, Valeria & Sophia

“We are so thankful to have received a grant for Chase through Small Steps in Speech. Every week when I ring the door bell,  I hear the pitter-patter of Chase’s little feet running to greet me with a big, bright smile. Together, Chase and I work on reading stories, making predictions, answering basic questions and sharing our thoughts and ideas. Chase works very hard to practice his “speech sounds” and is always excited to show me his progress week to week. This sweet boy has a lot to say and I’m so happy that this grant helped to give him a voice. I feel so lucky to have met Chase and his loving family and am so grateful that they were able to receive this grant to fund speech therapy services. He has incredible potential and a strong desire to learn. Chase continues to amaze me with all of his progress and reminds me why I love being a speech-language pathologist. Thank you Small Steps for everything that you do; you are making a huge difference in the lives of incredibly special children.

-Rachel Madel M.A., CCC-SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist)”
16-1219 Wagner