Early Intervention: A New Journey

Last week we started our journey into early intervention. And I'm so glad that we did. My daughter was diagnosed with microcephaly three months ago at her two month well check. Ever since then we have felt extremely unsure about what this would mean for her and for us and what we could do to help her. This week I feel like we began to get some answers, not answers about the future (diagnosis's, predictions, etc), but answers about the present. We began to get the support that will help us know how to best help our daughter grow and flourish on a day-to-day basis. And (as we're slowly realizing) those are the answers that really matter.

The whole world of early intervention and special needs services is completely foreign to me and I felt so nervous and unsure as we took our first floundering steps into this new realm. But, once we actually met with our Family Resource Coordinator I felt so relieved and encouraged and grateful that we had been directed to get this help now while Sage is still so young.

The organization that offers early intervention services for birth to age three in our area is called The Little Red School House. They send an occupational therapist to evaluate Sage and meet with us last week. Because we already had a diagnosis of microcephaly Sage automatically qualified for the program and from what I understand the evaluation was more for determining where she's at developmentally. The whole thing was so much more comfortable and encouraging than I had anticipated. As we had been warned, there was a lot of paper work to do, but most of the time was spend just talking about Sage.

I really liked the approach that The Little Red School House takes to equip and support the parents, believing that the parents know the child best and are in the best position to help the child. I also liked that they don't want to inundate the families with tons of appointments and lots of different specialists, instead they have one person (our Family Resources Coordinator) who will meet with us regularly (as regularly as we need). And then if their are questions or problems that are better suited for a specific specialist she can take those to her team of specialists at the school house and have them instruct her or if necessary bring them in to work with Sage. I liked that approach a lot, it seemed much less invasive or overwhelming.

I also felt a huge sigh of relief to learn that our FRC is able to offer some alternative remedies and has not only been working in occupational therapy for about thirty years, but also studied massage and acupressure. She said not all of her families want to utilize alternative options, but she wanted us to know about some of the different alternative remedies she could offer. Obviously I am very interested in alternative medicine and some of the therapies she talked about sounded fascinating. For example there was one she talked about where they use a tuning fork and different pitches that corespondent to different meridian lines (like in acupuncture - but without the needles), can't remember what it's called though.

Anyway, the whole experience was really positive and encouraging and I'm really looking forward to the support that this organization will be able to offer my sweet little girl over the next three years. Our next meeting will be next week and it's when we will create our Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), which from what I understand is essentially a document stating our desire for Sage over the coming year and a plan to achieve it and what services will help us get there.

I'm excited to start this journey into early intervention. It feels good to know that there are things we can do and tools we can utilize that could help Sage. And it feels good that we won't have to go at it alone. Someone will guide us through the process from here and help lead us to the best resources for the specific special needs of our baby.

I'm feeling very grateful for these things today.

Rejoicing in the journey,

Bethany Stedman