2023 Theme Child
Aushay from Santa Rosa, California
Born after a complicated 36 hours of labor, came a healthy baby boy of 9 pounds, 8 ounces on February 26, 2010. At birth, Aushay seemed very healthy. However, at Aushay’s 3-week check-up, his parents and pediatrician noticed a few abnormalities which prompted multiple referrals to UCSF University of California at San Francisco. Initially, Aushay’s family was referred to a cardiologist, geneticist, and an ophthalmologist for further testing. Aushay had his first surgery when he was only 3 months old on his eye to expand his pupil so his eye wouldn’t stop working due to lack of stimuli since there were corneal opacities that were blocking visual input. Aushay’s family spent much of his first-year patching his eye as a form of treatment.
Over the next months and years of his development Aushay’s list of medical specialists and procedures grew. Eventually Aushay was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition called Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. He was also diagnosed with autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, glaucoma, intellectual disabilities, sleep disturbances, and a host of eye issues. Aushay has many diagnoses and at one point was considered legally blind but has recently grown out of that diagnosis. He is now seen both at Stanford and UCSF Children’s Hospital. He no longer uses a white cane but still wears corrective lenses. Aushay’s most recent diagnosis came in the summer of 2021 when Aushay was diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, which is a rare form of epilepsy. This has been a very challenging time for Aushay and his family as they have had many failed medication trials and continue to strive to reach medical stability for Aushay. Currently Aushay wears a helmet and sometimes uses a wheelchair for protection and accessibility.
Aushay resides in his Santa Rosa home, with his parents, Nicole and Cameron, and his younger brother, Levi. Aushay loves to spend time with his family and looks forward to connecting with friends at his new school, Cypress which provides a unique opportunity where Aushay can enjoy structure, safety and friendship safely away from home. Due to medical necessity, Aushay has a 1-to-1 aide at school for safety. He’s making great connections! Aushay fatigues easily, likely due to his frequent seizures, but that doesn’t stop him from singing and dancing. Aushay gave himself the stage name “Wobbly Lizard” a year ago and really likes to tell jokes. He says he wants to be a comedian one day, but he is still working on the pronunciation as it comes out “chameleon”.
Aushay was first introduced to early intervention services when he was 2 years old due to a speech/language delay. When he was 3 years old, his family began to teach him sign language through the help of a specialist. Aushay became rather good at asking for what he wanted using his version of ASL. Although as his language emerged, that need to use sign language decreased. Even though Aushay was significantly delayed compared to neurotypical toddlers his age, he demonstrated many strengths which gave his family great hope for his future.
Speech Language Pathologist, Jocelyn Bishop began working with Aushay in March of 2022 when his family was struggling to find the resources to help with communication concerns. Jocelyn’s therapy services through the California-Hawaii Elks Major Project coincided with the emergence of the global pandemic. Aushay had still not returned to in-person learning and with isolation, limited educational instruction, and other services indefinitely on-hold, Aushay’s family was in desperate need of help. Aushay has developed a very strong connection with his therapist, Jocelyn. He has been an excellent participant in his speech therapy program, working on his goals to improve his social-pragmatic skills, socio-emotional skills, articulation skills, and language. Aushay enjoys guided reading activities, music, dance and everything about space and trains! A typical session may include a sensory regulating activity, like Brain Gym or yoga, paired book reading, and writing personal narratives about an experience. Aushay uses his speech therapy tools both in the classroom and home setting with help of his family and aides following his speech therapy home program.
Aushay continues to make progress toward his goals in speech and language therapy with the guidance of his therapist, Jocelyn. He is building skills to become a better communicator, improve the clarity of his speech as well as work on strategies to self-regulate in order to build strong connections with his family, friends, teachers, and therapists. Aushay’s willingness to continue to learn and grow will allow him to break barriers in this world. Despite a myriad of setbacks in his life, Aushay is a a beam of light to anyone he comes in contact with.
Aushay is a shining example of what the therapy services through the California-Hawaii Elks Major Project can accomplish! The therapists who are part of this project are honored to offer their skills and expertise to help children like Aushay, develop skills, obtain equipment, and learn strategies so that they can walk, talk, see and play! The California-Hawaii Elks Major Project provides skilled services and hope for families in need.
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