It doesn’t matter what day it is — Drishit Koirala loves to ask his family’s Google Home to sing “Happy Birthday” to anyone who happens to visit their house.
So when Michelle Chapman — a Developmental Specialist at the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities — stops by for one of her regular visits, she sometimes gets serenaded.
When he isn’t singing, Drishit will happily show off his counting skills, his knowledge of colors and his ABCs.
Hearing him chatter as he plays is exciting for Michelle and his parents, Dhan Koirala and Dil Mishra.
It’s hard to believe that their 2-year-old started out as, “a really quiet guy,” his mother said.
Now he’s speaking in sentences and paragraphs in both English and Nepali.
“I am completely satisfied,” Dhan said. “I’m very thankful for this country and the organizations we have here to help kids grow up like this.”
Dhan and Dil were both born in Bhutan but their families were forced out of the country in the early 1990s. After 18 years in Nepali refugee camps, they were resettled in the United States — Dhan in Austin and Dil in New York City.
The couple met in 2010 and were married two years later. Their daughter Drishya was born in 2014 while they were still living in Texas.
“She started speaking around 11 months and by 13 months she was speaking very fluently,” Dhan said,
Their family moved to Licking County in 2018 to be closer to relatives and Drishit was born several years later.
As they watched him grow, his parents noticed his speech was very delayed. They reached out for support in March of 2021, connecting with LCBDD’s Early Intervention program and LEADS’ Early Head Start Home Visiting.
Michelle was able to work with Kathy Postle from Early Head Start, coming up with a collaborative approach to support the whole family.
They gave Dhan and Dil suggestions for ways to communicate more intentionally with their son — naming items around the house and helping him break down words.
Whether they were making silly faces in the mirror or reading books, they learned new ways to support his development through play, Michelle said.
“It’s been a team effort,” she said. “His parents have been very involved. They’ve put in a lot of work and it has made a huge difference.”
Dhan said he is grateful that his family had the opportunity to use Early Intervention to help their son. He encourages any family with questions about their child’s development to reach out and get connected.
“We are really thankful to Ms. Kathy and Ms. Michelle and to their agencies, for helping this little one grow up like this,” he said.
For more information about Early Intervention in Licking County, go to https://lcountydd.org/birth-to-3/. To make an EI referral, please call 1-800-755-4769. You can also make a secure online referral at http://bit.ly/ReferToHMG.