Valley center helps 4-year-old Jade communicate using sign language and PECS

LEMOORE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Four-year-old Jade Ortega is always on the go!

She likes to run with her sister and feed the ducks outside her family's home in Lemoore.

"She's very energetic very passionate and enthusiastic child which is really neat," said Jade's father, Jason.

Jade was born with Down Syndrome, and like all kids, she loves snacks and playtime.

"We want her to do everything any kid is doing, and I think that's important for every special needs kid," said Jade's mother, Jannell.

Jade's communication has improved using sign language.

She also uses PECS or Picture Exchange Communication System.

"She's able to go over pull the Velcro, line it up say 'I want ice cream,' and we didn't have that before UCP," Jason said.

Jade received services through UCP Central California's Children's Center. More than 500 families are served and early intervention is essential.

"These early years birth to three are the years of brain building," said Debbie Gibson. "I tell parents your brain builders, and we know now that a million neurons are being formed every minute in than infant toddler brain."

Children get to interact with their peers. What may look like play may be a part of therapy to improve motor skills or language.

"The social, emotional well-being of an infant toddler is what drives the train, it is the engine of the train and pulls along all the other cars of fine motor, gross motor, self-help, cognition language," Gibson said.

Janell Ortega remembers the early days of Jade's therapy.

"Shirley would be like this is how you roll her, this is how you sit her up, or this is how she can sleep better, just a wealth of knowledge," she said.

The Ortega's know Jade's journey will have ups and downs, but they are proud of how far she's come and what she has taught them.

"You're going to love that baby, whatever baby you're given she's just taught me about love and just who you are as a person and what really matters in life," Janell said.

Dad proudly sports The Lucky Few tattoo in her honor.

"I've never seen the light, I've never met an angel, never seen somebody with wings, but I feel like Jade is an angel," he said.

With this kind of love and support, there is no doubt Jade will spread her wings and reach new heights!
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