Autistic 5-year-old FINALLY speaks following breakthrough speech therapy
Today is World Autism Awareness Day; this feature was originally published a year ago...
Imagine being that mum who hasn't heard your child's voice for more than three years?
Five-year-old Coco Bradford from Cornwall was only two when she stopped speaking completely, and has for the last three years communicated with her family via pictures.
The toddler had recently been diagnosed with autism, and was speaking in two-word sentences when she suddenly "lost" her voice, her mother, Rachel Bradford, explained to MailOnline yesterday.
But this week her silence ended when Coco turned around and asked her mum for some more of her favourite food – toast.
"Her exact words were ''I want more toast please'', Rachel explains. "She just kept saying it and we were just like "oh my god".'
The relieved mother explains how much these string of words meant to the family. "It was a really magical moment - it was the first thing she has said in three years. She looked so pleased with herself and was jumping up and down and just kept saying ''I want more toast''.
Trying not to overwhelm their little girl with their joy, Rachel explains: "You are not supposed to show how excited you get as kids link power with that word but we just couldn't control it. We were clapping and cheering."
New type of treatment
The family credits a new type of speech therapy, Applied Behavioural Analysis, or ABA, with Coco finding her voice again. The tot started the program, developed in California, last September, and the whole family takes part, as parents are also taught the techniques used by the tutors, and encouraged to use them at home.
ABA uses a system of rewards to teach children skills and train them to behave according to social norms. Tasks are broken down into "chunks" which are repeated over and over.
Coco's treatment was only made possible thanks to a fundraising campaign that has so far raised over £20,000.
"We waited so long for her to talk and for her to just do it unprompted was quite magical really, Coco's mother explains. "It is just so lovely and I can not explain how happy we all are. The day after, my husband came home from work and Coco poked her head around the corner and said hello."