Learning how to say 'mom' in his 20s

Last year, Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care joined together to create Advocate Aurora Health, the 10th largest not-for-profit health system in the country. Your generosity will continue to make health care more accessible and compassionate for each person we serve. Here, we’re sharing stories about people, just like you, who are making a difference.

Speech and language development can be a challenge for people with Down syndrome.

When Quintin, 27, met Susan Bertucci, speech pathologist at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, in 2018 he had limited speech and would not use it to communicate.

Quintin met medical director Dr. Brian Chicoine more than ten years ago when he first walked through the doors of the Adult Down Syndrome Center. Throughout the years, Dr. Chicoine’s multidisciplinary approach introduced Valerie, Quintin’s mom, to a dietitian and speech pathologist.

One of the first words that Quintin learned was “mom.”

“He never said mom until last year,” Valerie said. “Now he signs and says mom all the time.”

Susan set a goal of ten words for Quintin to sign or verbalize and use functionally. He worked on sign and oral language simultaneously because some words were easier for him to say than sign and vice versa. Quintin reached his goal in two months and his progress started to increase reaching 170+ words.

“He became aware that his words/signs had meaning and would develop eye contact and approach others trying to communicate,” Susan said. “The patient’s progress is directly tied with his/her family involvement. Valerie practiced speech and sign language with Quintin at home, church, store, and other social situations tirelessly.”

At age 15, Quintin weighed approximately 194 pounds and under Dr. Chicoine’s recommendation and his mother’s guidance, gave up fast food and unhealthy snacks filled with sugar and salt. Quintin lost more than 74 pounds which he has successfully kept off throughout the years.

“Initially, we needed to award Quintin with a cracker every time he produced a correct word or sign,” said Susan. “Gradually, his ability to communicate was his reward and when he enters the therapy room now, he consistently signs and verbalizes “work” because he enjoys his success.”

Quintin is no longer shy to engage and initiate a conversation with people he meets. With his newfound courage and increased vocabulary, he is quite the ladies’ man says his mom.

How you can help

The Adult Down Syndrome Center is a comprehensive medical resource for teens and adults with Down syndrome. We provide patients everything from holistic care and support to education and resources in a compassionate, welcoming environment. We also hold events, participate in community outreach and conduct research. Many of our programs would not be possible without the generous support of donors. To make a gift in support of the Adult Down Syndrome Center, please click here

Quintin with speech pathologist Susan Bertucci

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