Meet Judah Bittner, a brave boy from Port Charlotte, Florida, who is learning how to vocalize using an electrolarynx.
Judah, who was 5 years old at the time this video was taken in March 2018, was born prematurely along with his twin sister, Annikah.
The twins weighed just over one pound each and were not expected to live, InspireMore reported.
But the two pulled through and were adopted by Mike and Jessica Bittner, a couple raising five adopted children with special needs and developmental delays.
In 2015, Judah’s health took a scary turn for the worse, and he was hospitalized.
Doctors had to give Judah a tracheotomy to help him breathe, and the tube damaged Judah’s vocal cords.
The boy hadn’t been able to use his voice until March 2018, when he was introduced to the electrolarynx.
Surrounded by his supportive mom and siblings, Judah watched as his speech pathologist told him about the device.
She placed the electrolarynx against Judah’s neck and encouraged him to speak.
Hesitant at first, Judah managed a shy, “Hello,” the first word he’d been able to vocalize in years.
His family erupted in delight as Judah’s expression turned from surprise and confusion to adorable, bashful delight.
Judah’s speech therapist was patient with him, encouraging him to keep trying.
Judah’s siblings were excited to hear their brother’s voice, giggling with delight each time he spoke.
Jessica Bittner posted the video to YouTube and explained that her son’s journey is not over yet.
Though he cannot speak in the traditional sense, Bittner does not categorize her son as nonverbal.
“I like to think of Judah as ‘nonvocal,'” Bittner explained. “He is verbal but most cannot understand his speech initially, even with the electrolarynx.”
“Judah bug is slowly getting used to using his ‘voice box’ or ‘buzzer!’
“His kindergarten classmates encourage him to use it — which helps!
“We are still looking to have Judah go through surgeries that would reconstruct his airway. Once his airway is stable and can support his breathing we may be able to remove the trach!
“And then, finally, we can have the necessary procedures done to try to fix his vocal cord paralysis.
“It’s a long journey!” Bittner said. “But he’s a champion!”
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