Speed Reads

It wasn't all bad

Big sister uses music to teach brother with Down syndrome his first word: 'Happy'

Bo Gray wasn't expected to start talking for a few more years, but his big sister Lydia changed all that.

Bo, 2, has Down syndrome, and his parents, Amanda Bowman Gray and Caleb Gray, were told he likely wouldn't say his first word until well after his third birthday. Bo was born with heart and lung issues, and has had to undergo several procedures. Before heart surgery in 2016, the Grays sang "You Are My Sunshine" to Bo in the hospital, and Lydia, 11, revived the tradition last fall, picking up her guitar and singing the song to Bo multiple times a day.

After three months of what the family calls "music therapy," Bo had a breakthrough. Lydia "screamed that he said his first word, 'happy,'" Bowman Gray told People. Bo repeated the word for his mom, then his dad, then his three other siblings. Since that day, Lydia has taught Bo how to say nearly a dozen more words, surprising his speech therapist, who says it's amazing that Bo can say so much at just 25 months. "He is defying the odds," Bowman Gray said. "He's defied the odds of what was possible with Down syndrome. These kids are often put in this box, but the lid is starting to open. They are capable." Catherine Garcia