BRECKSVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Six-year-old Jacoby Arnold, of Brecksville, was born with a condition that causes her to be non-verbal.
She can say a few words like “mama” and “dada,” but is continuing to find her voice as she relies on signing.
The coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a new role model for Jacoby: Marla Berkowitz, the now-beloved sign language interpreter who is front and center during Gov. Mike DeWine’s press briefings.
“Our daughter has no understanding that we are living through a pandemic, but what I do know is we are staying home, keeping her safe and she loves seeing someone on TV every day that communicates with sign language like she does,” said her mother Jillian.
Arnold shared heartwarming video on the Dr. Amy Acton Fan Club page showing Jacoby jump in to ‘help’ Marla during a recent briefing.
“We love Marla, and Jacoby loves watching all the interpreters every day on the press conferences,” said Arnold. “Seeing someone sign and communicate like she does, it immediately connects Jacoby to a person. Love that Jacoby gets to see them on TV almost every day.”
Arnold said Jacoby is a twin with sister Jenna. She has two other siblings, also twins, Kipton and Johannah, 9.
When she was 28 weeks pregnant, Arnold and her husband, Kevin, found out Jacoby had a life-threatening and fatal condition called Hydrops Fetalis. They were told if she survived birth, she’d have a five-percent chance of survival.
After the twins were born, she spent the first 16 months of her life in Cleveland Clinic facilities. Her condition caused her to need a trach and ventilator to breathe, and it brought several negative effects. She can’t eat by mouth and is non-verbal.
“She has no idea we are living through a pandemic,” said Arnold. “With Jacoby being a medically complex child falling into the vulnerable category with this virus, we as a family are doing everything in our power to keep her safe as possible by staying home.”
She said the daily press briefings and the interpreters like Marla are helping them through.
“My husband and I find comfort in watching the daily press conferences and we are so proud to live in Ohio where we have a great team of leaders keeping us safe,” she said. “And Jacoby gets to see Marla and the other interpreters sign every day.”
They hope the video eventually makes it to Jacoby’s new role model.
“It would be so cool to have this video reach Marla,” said Arnold. “Couldn’t find her over any social media platforms to tag her, but hoping she comes across it.”