A few months back at our sons 16 month well visit with his pediatrician we were discussing his speech, or lack there of. We weren’t so worried L wasn’t talking yet but were hopeful to find ways to encourage his speech further. With L being such a busy boy and always on the go we assumed he just wanted to put his energy into moving and not so much talking. Our pediatrician agreed that he wasn’t overly concerned but he recommended a referral to Early Intervention for an evaluation.
In case you don’t know much about Early Intervention it’s a free program offered in Massachusetts and I believe many other states. It’s available to children ages 0-3 years old and services can be requested for a variety of reasons including premature birth, speech or behavioral delays, developmental delays, and more. The services are provided in home and sometimes group centers depending on each childs’ individual needs.
Within a week of our doctor referring L for services we had an appointment set up for an in-home evaluation. I was admittedly a bit nervous waiting for the day. Would they think L was further behind then I expected? Would he like the women that were coming over or hide behind me? Maybe they would think we were horrible parents?!
Well, those were all ridiculous fears because within seconds of the evaluators arriving I knew we made the right choice. The 4 women entered our home, greeting L briefly without intimidating him. They went right over to our living room and plopped down on the floor, pulling out a bag of toys to entice L to play. As soon as he saw the pile of blocks he ran over and snatched one up, bringing it over to show me. Almost instantly he was best friends with the women.
The next 1-2 hours were spent playing various games and activities designed to give the women an idea of L’s needs. I sat on the sidelines watching and chatting with the intake coordinator. She explained quietly what each “game” was testing like hand-eye coordination, hearing, patience, ability to follow instructions, etc. As the intake evaluation came to an end I felt relieved we had called for services. We were excited for what I knew L would soon be learning and anxious to get started.
Since the intake eval L has had 4 or 5 sessions with his therapist, Meghan. She’s amazing with him… kind, friendly, patient, and understanding. She helps him through his frustration when learning something new and teaches my husband and I how to encourage his sign language, speech, and eye contact. Already in just the one short month he has made some great improvements and I cannot wait to see what is to come!
What Have We Learned in the First Month of Early Intervention?
- Sign Language: L has begun to sign for “more”! It took a few weeks to learn and can be a struggle for him to remember but with a little guidance we’ve been using it a few times per day! It will be helpful for us as he can tell us when he wants more food, toys, bubbles, etc.
- Patience: Somehow, L is learning a TINY bit of patience. Meghan teaches L that he needs to wait his turn, teaching him how to sign “my turn” when he wants to play. She also taught us that he CAN learn how to be patient and that yes, most of the time he becomes frustrated and storms off but he can listen and wait.
- Imitating: One day while playing with bubbles we kept saying “pop, pop, pop” to L. All of a sudden he was imitating us and trying to say pop!
- Ankle weights aren’t just for working out! Last week Meghan suggest ankle weights to help L settle down. When I asked what they did she said that kids with high energy and sensory issues feel more grounded when wearing the weights. He wore them for 20 minutes and we noticed a significant difference in his ability concentrate on just one task after she took them off.
So, there is my very long explanation of our first month with Early Intervention. Overall, I love it, L loves it, and I think he is making great improvements! I cannot wait to see what the next few months brings!