Giving Thanks to Early Intervention Specialists this Thanksgiving
Editor's note: Happy Thanksgiving everyone. We received this blog earlier this week and thought it made a timely post. To all the early childhood teachers, early intervention specialists, principals and program directors who make such a difference in our children's lives - Thank you!
by Sarah Smith
I will never forget the lump in my throat that I got after getting my toddler's speech assessment results. I couldn’t swallow. I couldn’t breathe. When they said that my son may have apraxia in the speech pathologist’s office, the lump starting growing. I know what apraxia is because I am a teacher myself. It is not an easy road to go down. He was only 20 months at the time, but not making basic sounds or talking at all. By the time, I got to my car, the lump in my throat was the painful, choking-type of lump that did not go away until I allowed myself to cry.
My two-and-a-half year old son has been in speech therapy for a year now. We visit Children’s Hospital every other week, and a speech pathologist comes to our house every week. It has been an intense journey, but my son doesn’t have apraxia after all. He has a speech delay, which can be attributed to early ear infections (he has tubes). He still struggles to make beginning basic sounds like /m/, /p/, and /b/, but I can now understand my son. If my son wants juice, he can say “uice.” Today, my son was yelling, “agon” “agon,” which I knew was his way of saying “pumpkin.” It isn’t clear to others, but I can understand my son now. I can meet his wildly changing toddler needs and wants. I have the skills to help him now. He is improving rapidly, and his long-term outlook looks great. This is the power of early intervention.
This Thanksgiving, we should hold early intervention specialists in our hearts. These are miracle workers who work through frustrating, galling issues that have the power of changing a child’s life forever. Whether it is physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or any other developmental specialist- our young infants, toddlers, and preschoolers are within a critical window of brain development. It is very important to never delay early intervention because it may get better on its own. Always seek an assessment and professional opinion. My son’s ear issues occurred between five and nine months when received tubes, and he still struggles with basic sounds he would have made during that time as a baby. These intervention specialists work with urgency and patience. Due to the work of early interventionists, a child’s life quality can be dramatically improved and changed forever before that window of brain development shuts. Thank you, early invention specialists, who make such a difference for our children. You have made such a difference in my family’s life and countless other families' lives. Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and peace knowing you have made such a difference.
Sarah Smith is an Early Childhood Education Instructor at Gateway Community & Technical College in Northern Kentucky. She is a mother of 3 children under 6.