Early intervention for your infant or toddler could be life changing

While his older brother went to school and his sister took center stage of most activities, Alay was content to allow his family members to attend to his every need. At 12 months, he was barely sitting up and had no words. At his regular check up, his doctor recommended that his mother contact Rainbows for a developmental evaluation.
Alay was evaluated within the month and his developmental delays qualified him for home visits from early childhood professionals through Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services. Amy Foster, Physical Therapist visited Alay and his mom at their home and as primary lead team member. She talked with her team of early childhood special education teacher and speech therapist then developed a plan to help bring Alay up to meet the developmental milestones of his age.
“When I first met Alay, he really wasn’t walking or talking,” said Foster. She set out to help his mom track his words and develop his gross motor skills. After just six months of visits with Foster, based on his need, Alay is running around the family’s front room, kicking a ball and his words have increased.
His mother, Maria beams when she talks about the progress he has made in such a short amount of time. “It’s been amazing to see him take off,” said Maria. “I didn’t realize that he had the delays and once I was connected to Rainbows’ I learned many ways to help my son.” Alay is quickly catching up with skills appropriate for his age and is developing many more words. His mother is thankful that caring professionals are able to come to their home on her day off to help the family succeed.
Next Alay will work on jumping and running. His mother is writing down his new words and listening to hear him put words together into sentences. “By working with the parents so closely in the Primary Coach model, we are able to help the child succeed in their natural environment and work with items that are common in the family’s home,” says Foster. “I talk often with my team, who are specialists in speech, development and other specialties and take those ideas out to the home with me. It’s quite a reward to see a child thrive in their home environment as they make progress in strength, speech and other areas.”
As a member of the Infant/Toddler Services team, Foster sees the 24 children on her caseload based on their needs. When her special skills as a physical therapist are needed on site, Foster will attend a joint visit with a speech therapist or an early childhood special education teacher. “We learn so much from each other, and are able to help young children get a good start in life,” said Lee “Paco” Price, Sedgwick County Infant/Toddler Services Coordinator for Rainbows. Price oversees 35 early childhood professionals who serve more than 900 children in Sedgwick County every year.
Kara Knight’s 14 month old, son Reece wasn’t talking much and used a lot of pointing and grunting to communicate his needs. He was often frustrated when his parents didn’t know what he wanted. When Rainbows’ Butler County Infant/Toddler Services speech therapist, Kim Stewart came to their home, the family learned more sign language to communicate and helped them incorporate language into their daily lives. Stewart suggested things like naturally naming body parts when putting on lotion or taking a bath to make learning fun for the family instead of quizzing as part of homework.
“After just four months, Reece now has at least 50 words, and is starting to say words spontaneously. He still uses sign language and has started saying 2 syllable words and his words are clearer, said mom Kara. “He is also doing a lot more imitation of words and actions. He seems happier now that he can communicate easier and we understand what he wants. Rainbows helped us communicate with our son and we greatly appreciate it.”
“By helping the family be involved in the progress and goals, everyone wins,” says Susan Harsh, Butler County Infant/Toddler Service Coordinator who oversees eight staff serving nearly 200 children under age three across the state’s largest geographical county. “Parents know their child best and can help them reach goals and accomplish many things alongside an early childhood professional who helps guide the family towards resources and appropriate therapies.”
“This approach is successful because everyday activities support the child’s best learning opportunities,” said Debbie Mai, Vice President of Programs and Services. “This occurs through regular visits by a team of early childhood specialists who support the child and their family, by improving a child’s growth and development.”
At 15 months Juli was not walking and only standing on one leg occasionally. She was behind in development and her parents were trying different tactics to help her overcome the delay when they noticed Juli had one leg and foot much smaller than the other. After months of testing and waiting for specialists, Juli was finally diagnosed with a neurological disorder and took her first steps at 19 months.
While waiting, Juli and her family were connected with Rainbows’ Infant/Toddler Services in Butler County, which she qualified for right away. “The evaluations, treatment plan and therapy that was provided, put Juli on the right track in the critical months of her development,” says Juli’s mom Ame Brubaker-Bourque.
Families with a concern regarding their infant or toddler’s development, may contact Infant/Toddler Services at (316) 267-5437 ext. 123 in Sedgwick County and (316) 320-1342 in Butler County. Children who qualify may receive one or more of the 16 early intervention services, depending on each child’s specific need, at no cost to the family. Services are funded through federal and state sources in support of children birth to age three. In Kansas this program is named tiny-k.

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