From the desk of Sharon Wexler…
I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the lives of our patients. We find each one to be unique, and challenging in their own way. Not only do I feel pride in helping them, but I have the rare opportunity of learning from them as well. Over time I am fortunate to develop a bond and friendship with each one and their family members, that adds great meaning to my life. From the moment I meet until the time I can finally tell our patient their treatment is over, I do my utmost to show respect, compassion, understanding and caring to each and every one. Their treatment is individually planned and executed because everyone is different and needs their treatment to fit them and not made to fit only one treatment scheme. Whenever possible, going the extra mile for a patient is what we strive to do. My patients are our blessings and we treasure them always.
At the age of three, my son Jon-Paul, had never uttered a single syllable. Although we had taken him to several specialists, we were never given a diagnosis. I remember those early years being plagued with concerns for his future and the limits he might face. Providential circumstances led us to Sharon, who diagnosed him with Apraxia. For the first time after realizing he had a problem, I felt hopeful that we had found the therapist who could put an end to his silent world. Our first session was anything but easy; however, Jon-Paul connected with Sharon instantly, sensing she was there to help him. She worked hard to help him progress and was innovative in making it fun as well. Consequently, she expected us to do our part in being diligent in our weekly assignments. The results were astronomical! That first fateful appointment was 17 years ago, and today he is attending Johns Hopkins University. Literally, there is not a week that goes by that “Sharon Wexler” is not mentioned in our conversation. She not only gave him the gift of language, but also started him on his life-long journey of learning.
When I was first diagnosed with Apraxia the doctors told my parents I would never be able to talk. Several of my teachers said I would never amount to anything special. Then I met Mrs. Sharon. She believed in me and wanted to help me. It took a lot of hard work, but with her expertise, she helped me find my voice and that has been the single greatest gift anyone has given me. Beyond that though she has taught me certain intangibles such as the importance of having dreams, fighting to achieve those dreams and cherishing each and every triumph in life. With Mrs. Sharon’s help I have been able to reach my dream and am attending Johns Hopkins University to study Neuroscience with hope to work against Apraxia in the future. However, none of this would be possible without Mrs. Sharon, who I consider to have had the largest impact on my life besides my parents. Every word I am able say is a living testament to the wonders Mrs. Sharon is capable of doing, and I will never be able to properly show my appreciation of what she has done for me.
Dr. Jeannie Visootsik of the Emory Down Syndrome Clinic first referred us to Sharon Wexler at the Institute of Myofunctional Therapy. Our experience at the Institute of Myofunctional Studies has been absolutely life changing! Our daughter wouldn’t be EATING if it weren’t for Sharon’s skills. When we suffer a setback, she is there to patiently turn a few pages back to basics and progress us forward again. This therapy has been critical to our daughter’s efforts to achieve typical speaking and eating skills. Children with Down Syndrome don’t stand one chance of social acceptance without proper speech and oral motor skills. When someone with Down Syndrome cannot be understood, society at large cannot accept that person as having the ability to achieve beyond conventional opinion which is extremely low. Improving these areas is vital to these patients’ respiratory health as well. Sharon Wexler must be the World’s Greatest Expert in Oral Motor Skills. We constantly research the topic in search of practices that make sense for our daughter and none compare even remotely to Sharon’s wealth of knowledge.
My friend from Apraxiallistserv recommended you for our son’s speech and gagging problems. You are certainly an expert from diagnosis to treatment and at-home exercises. I have heard his speech advance and of even greater concern, his reverse swallow is almost non-existent now. This approach helps me understand the physical side of my son’s apraxia of speech and gives us a specific set of exercises and movements that are tangible and develop the habits and muscle memory required for correct speech production and swallowing. TIMS has the experience and expertise that were truly the missing “puzzle piece” to helping my son’s “severe apraxia of speech” improve. Sharon’s written reports have helped with insurance and her communication with other therapists and specialists have proven to be tremendously helpful.
Finding Sharon Wexler was the luckiest thing that ever happened to my son, Mike! Mike started conventional speech therapy when we moved to Atlanta, at about 20-months-old. I religiously took Mike to therapy and practiced exercises with him. By the time he was 4 1/2 years old, our family was growing increasingly worried and frustrated. Mike’s progress was so poor that he was nonverbal. I took Mike to the “experts” at the local children’s hospital for a re-evaluation and was told Mike might never be able to speak! Thankfully, we ran into Sharon socially and she thought she might have some luck with Mike. Under Sharon’s firm but loving tutelage, Mike began to make sounds. Then he started speaking! Her methods were so different than the conventional speech techniques, but they worked! Somehow Sharon always knew when to push Mike to work a little harder and when to praise him. She is the absolute BEST speech therapist ever and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for the incredible miracle Sharon performed in getting Mike to speak!
I remember using sign language when I couldn’t talk. When I was able to talk, I never stopped talking! Sharon Wexler really changed my life. She’s a remarkable woman. She’s had a big impact on my life. She’s got to be one of the best speech teachers in the country. I call Sharon an angel and she’s really special to me.
My son was born 3 months premature and was delayed in all of his developmental milestones, with speech being the most significant delay. Julian’s special education teacher referred me to TIMS when my son was 2 ½ years old. I have seen lots of positive changes in his oral motor skills. As a result of his therapy Julian now self corrects many of the common words he once mispronounced, such as ‘free’ instead of ‘three’. As a 2 ½ to 3 year old, Julian was described as very shy. He would hold his head down when asked a question in front of people and was not very participative during preschool story time. He rarely communicated openly unless it was one on one. By 4 years old he is described by his teachers as very talkative, extremely participative during story time, and asking or answering questions without prompting. The oral motor therapy is a very beneficial approach to my son’s overall speech and language development. I feel that since Julian is learning how to position his tongue and overall mouth correctly to produce words he’s able to communicate his needs and socialize with his peers.
My orthodontist spotted my daughter’s reverse swallow. I was aware of her tongue protruding in front of her teeth when she spoke and ate but she was already in speech therapy since that action was interfering with certain letter productions. The school speech therapists and private therapists never told me the cause was a deviated swallow. The orthodontist explained that his work would never hold if she did not get this fixed. He recommended TIMS. Six months of treatment later he took off those braces and proclaimed her deviated swallow was cured.
We have seen amazing progress in our daughter since our developmental pediatrician referred us to TIMS. We have been coming here for years because when Charlotte started she had only the most rudimentary awareness of lips, cheeks, and tongue. Now we are closing in on a correct swallow. She has considerably less drooling, if at all. Her speech has improved exponentially, going from disconnected basic consonant and vowel sounds to speech that strangers can understand. It’s a lot of work, but no one can argue with the results! It’s great to take Charlotte to TIMS because there is such a bank of knowledge and people who genuinely care about Charlotte and her treatment.
We were referred to Sharon Wexler by 2 different specialists in child development. Other specialists felt he would either “grow out of the problem” or need special education when he reached school age. Our son was challenging; he cried for the first two or three sessions and was slow to try new things, but once he realized that Sharon wasn’t going to stop or give in to his resistance, he started to have fun and he started to listen and learn. We think even Sharon has been impressed with the leaps and bounds that Andy has made. He loves going to “play with Ms. Sharon” and is excited to show off his talking skills to her. With Sharon’s aggressive approach and teaming with our ENT, our son’s speech improved from being significantly delayed and rather unintelligible, to advancing above his age range. Sharon’s creative and fun focus engaged our son and made him want to progress to please her. Andy’s remarkable progress is due to Sharon’s expertise, techniques, and years of experience-exactly what our son needed. Speech is so important to learning and self-confidence. Sharon worked with Andy for about 2 years and then dismissed him until he was 4.5 to work on his reverse swallow. Sharon encourages him, while firmly coaching him to improve and exceed her expectations. Now he is speaking clearly, confidently and correctly.
I did not even realize I had a problem with my tongue placement until Sharon Wexler asked me about my problem with reflux. She suggested that her team work with me to fix the problem. It seems that my tongue was not hitting “the spot” on the roof of my mouth and was resting against my upper front teeth. This resulted in very dry mouth and probably contributed to my reflux. After working with TIMS once a week for about four to six months, my tongue is always in the right spot and my dry mouth has gone away. TIMS worked with me so I even have my tongue on the “right spot” when I sleep and it is wonderful to wake up in the morning and not have a dry mouth. Also, I was able to reduce my reflux medicine in half. Even the dentist and hygienist commented about how my dry mouth has disappeared and that will reduce tooth decay. TIMS was very patient, professional and easy to work with. I am very pleased with the results.
TIMS has been working with my son for four months, since he was 11 years old. We have seen him make great progress. While he still doesn’t form words, he has gone from grunting and making shrieking noises, to formulating vowels and consonants. He also communicates in ways that he understands turn taking and expressing when he wants more of something. They have taught us things we can use in everyday life and play. I look forward to working with them more to see how Mason continues to expand in his communication skills.
TIMS has been an invaluable asset to me and my 3-year-old daughter! She has given me a whole new perspective on how to incorporate new language into my daughter’s vocabulary in a way that is fun to her and easy to incorporate in our daily routines. I would highly recommend them to anyone with a child needing speech therapy!