Meet Devyn, our 2021 Ambassador
Devyn Yanko is 5 years old and attends Kindergarten at Lincoln Elementary School in Ottawa. Devyn likes routines, is sensory sensitive and enjoys talking about landmarks, Godzilla, transportation vehicles, animals and presidents.
This past August Devyn was diagnosed with Autism. Devyn’s mom Janice Yanko turned to SRRC for help. Although Devyn received therapy at school, she wanted additional help for him. Their insurance was not able to cover the cost of therapy, but fortunately SRRC provides a sliding fee scale for families based on income allowing Devyn to attend weekly Speech Therapy with Sarah Baker and Occupational Therapy with Elena Gaeta.
Through private therapy, parents can set goals that are most important to their family. Therapists continue supporting his IEP goals as well including answering "why" questions, using appropriate he/she him/he, but are also able to focus on goals that don’t necessarily have a role in his education.
Therapy has helped Devyn become more social in that he shares, takes turns, and can answer questions and tell stories. Therapists work on many of his fears such as haircuts, using the potty, loud sounds, touching messy things and using social stories and pretend play. He's working on becoming more flexible, winning and losing during games, being a good listener, understanding his emotions, managing big reactions by understanding the difference between big problems and little problems and figuring out how to fix the problem.
“We are working towards all Devyn’s goals and have seen improvement with slowing down and taking breaths and apologizing when he is aggressive,” said Elena Gaeta, Occupational Therapist at SRRC. “Prior to starting therapy, Devyn didn't consistently express his feelings, but rather lashed out. Devyn’s upsets are significantly shorter than before he started therapy and he recovers more quickly. We work on following rules and boundaries. Transitions used to be really difficult, but they are much better. Devyn likes to know what to expect. I think therapy is a safe zone for him to explore his fears and challenges while also having fun and learning,” said Elena.
“Elena and Sarah are Devyn’s “best friends” as he calls them,” said Janice Yanko. “He truly enjoys his time at SRRC and looks forward to coming every week. Everyone here truly cares about Devyn, and it shows. They have helped me as a parent immensely. I have gained so many skills to help Devyn through his bad days. Sarah and Elena have taught me how to comfort him, calm him and re-direct him. With the help of SRRC and his therapists at Lincoln, I feel confident that Devyn will develop the skills he needs to live a fulfilling and independent life.”
Meet Our Past Ambassadors
Meet the many faces of Starved Rock Regional Center. Each child is chosen to represent the center for the year and showcase their unique needs and ways that SRRC has helped them reach their maximum potential.