“I gave birth to our first child, Jackson, in December 2013 – 13 weeks early. We never found out why. No drugs, no alcohol, no high blood pressure, no diabetes. He just came. We spent 72 days in the NICU. I could not have been more terrified. We were referred to KDC in Southbridge and we had him evaluated pretty much immediately. Of course he qualified. We were immediately given a PT/OT – Charlene. She was amazing and helped us work on everything from pincer grasp to crawling. Jackson struggled with gross motor. He didn’t sit up until like 9 months, didn’t crawl until like 10/11 months and did not walk until 16 months. Around 18 months old he was assigned a speech therapist, Justine. He also did not really talk until 2 years. However he is now almost 4 and does not stop talking! He was discharged from EI at 2 years, 5 months.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think that not only would he catch up but that he would surpass his peers being born so early. I must have asked the EIT people 879374 questions because I wanted to know everything. They either knew the answers cold or did everything they could to get answers. They were incredibly helpful and honestly I felt/feel like they care about my kids. I could text them questions or even send updates like “He just started crawling!!!) and they would be just as excited as I was because they worked so incredibly hard and gave so many tips and tricks.
I wish our story ended there but it does not. When Jackson was roughly 17 months old we found out that not only were we pregnant but that she would have Down syndrome. I immediately told Jackson’s EI team so I could figure out how to get her services from day 1. Luckily both Justine and Charlene had open spots in their schedules for her and started with Isabelle literally when she was less than 1 month old. Speech helped us with getting mouth muscles developed for feeding which would in turn help with speech. They see her weekly and have for a long time – she will be 2 in 1 week. They also added a playgroup once a week and bus her from daycare to get there. And she sees a music therapist too, Sarah. Sarah helps with routines and saying words. Also, I took the Hanen: it takes 2 to talk class and it was incredibly helpful to giving me tips. I was able to realize things I was doing that were not helpful and given tips for how to help Izzie. Isabelle also had the EI nurse come to the house and she helped with some things but also getting us some quick answers from doctors at Boston Children’s. In her short life she’s had 2 open heart surgeries and ear tubes not to mention 132 appointments in her first year ALONE. And she has SMO orthotics. She basically has a doctor for every major organ! The EI team know the doctors we work with and recommend how we deal with them. Charlene retired from being a PT in a public school and EI but she still sees Isabelle as her only and last client. I love that they are so flexible and if something comes up, they can fit us in some other time in the week. Charlene, Justine & Deb also keep in mind that Jackson doesn’t get that they are there for Isabelle now and they make sure to give him a few minutes of 1:1 time each week as well. He looks forward to seeing them every week and asks every day who is coming to the house (even though they are only there Mondays and Tuesdays) and he goes on and on about Sarah at music (she goes to daycare). Our daycare lady, Donna, really enjoys having Sarah come in and she gives all the kids attention. They give her advice as well.
Both of my kids had the same coordinator – Deb. So we have known each other for 3.5 years. She has been a tremendous resource in giving monthly readings and getting services for Isabelle. She’s been trying so hard for the past month trying to get us answers to some questions for IEP and legal schooling issues for when she turns 3.
I can’t say enough for all of the EI professionals that we have had the pleasure to work with!! They have done so much for our family and I truly believe my kids would not be where they are today if it were not for them and all the advice and tips and tricks they gave us. Sometimes it can seem overwhelming to have to plan around 2-4 appointments a week but it;s been so worth it. They truly give their all and are so experienced. I so appreciate their time and the energy they put into everything. They truly are setting my kids up for success in the future – especially Izzie. I feel like I honestly can’t put into words all they’ve done because its SO much. THANK YOU SO MUCH, KDC!”