Jennifer hears a high-pitched bark. But it’s not coming from the dolphin; it’s coming from her son, Hatcher.
Yesterday, Hatcher could only grunt signaling his hunger or sleepiness. Today, he’s mimicking dolphin sounds and blowing raspberries in the water.
He’s a Make-A-Wish® kid – and the healing atmosphere of dolphin therapy awakened his need to communicate.
Jennifer is awed by the complete change in her son as he swims and plays with the dolphin.
“It brought tears to my eyes to watch his sweet face when he was in the water with the dolphins,” she said. “It was like he understood their world and they, his. He came alive with them.”
At Island Dolphin Care, Hatcher and his family relax and renew their spirits. Their journey has been difficult.
Hatcher was born with Down syndrome – restricting his verbal communication skills. Soon after, he was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia.
With his life-threatening cancer in remission, Hatcher and his family travel to Florida for a trip that combined Hatcher’s love for animals and water.
During the five-day program geared toward special-needs kids, Hatcher’s sisters join him in the water and in the classroom. Inside, they attend art and music lessons. Instructors teach Hatcher how to use an iPad as a speech device.
“Hatcher woke up and was able to communicate back with us for the very first time,” Jennifer says.
With the help of the iPad, Hatcher can communicate up to 15 words. ‘Juice’ and ‘bed’ are now in his vocabulary.
Hatcher’s wish …. it sparked his future as the starting point to his mental growth. Jennifer now has tools to help her son learn and grasp the world.