An Ode To Early Intervention

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When my daughter was ten months old she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She had a stroke in utero, resulting in muscle weakness on her entire left side.

My daughter’s early intervention therapists became a huge part of our lives since we saw them so often. I am so appreciative to her therapists for their attentiveness, compassion, and love.

At ten months, she was just figuring out how to sit up on her own. Some of her peers were pulling up to standing or even walking, while she was still trying to crawl.

We never baby proofed because we didn’t need to.

She wasn’t mobile enough to hurt herself or get into anything she shouldn’t. And so, we started therapy. Lots and lots of physical and occupational therapy, and later on – speech. 

Recently my daughter turned 3 years old and the early intervention services came to an end. In the days leading up to her 3rd birthday, I reflected on the impact her teachers and therapists had on our lives.

They shared such important milestones with me. When my daughter started to crawl her physical therapist was so excited. I couldn’t wait to tell her at our next therapy appointment and her enthusiastic reaction was so genuine.

While most first steps are taken in the living room or kitchen at home, my daughter took hers at a physical therapy clinic, surrounded by other patients and therapists. Her therapist recognized how important that moment was to me and she shared in my joy.

She acknowledged what a milestone first steps were and she even shed some tears with me.

When it was suggested that my daughter start a special therapy school at 15 months, it was so hard for me to think of handing my baby over to someone I had only just met. The director of the program allowed me to sit in the classroom for the first couple of weeks.

Looking back, I think we both realized my daughter was fine, and it was for me, not her.

One teacher let me sit her office and cry, as I struggled with learning about my daughter’s diagnosis. That same teacher shared her own story of having a child with a disability and told me that she had struggled too.The staff at the school believed in my daughter so much and were just as excited as me, if not more when my daughter began walking, talking and using the potty.

Through therapy and school, my daughter has had some wonderful opportunities. She got to participate in a Halloween parade, meet Santa and make tons of crafts. I am so lucky to have handmade Mother’s Day cards from her.

My daughter got to celebrate her birthday and friends’ birthdays in such a loving environment. She learned her colors, sang the ABC’s, learned favorite songs, even some sign language!

When it came time to say goodbye, I knew that their tears were genuine. I miss our daily interactions with therapists and teachers. But it means so much to me to know that they miss us too.

My daughter was important to them. They watched her grow in leaps and bounds, from a baby to a young girl. From being non-mobile to running and jumping. From no words to full sentences!

I am so grateful to them for helping to shape her, mold her and teach her, and for sharing some of the most important moments of my daughter’s young life with me.

 

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Kathy was born and raised in Big Bear, CA. She left the mountains for the beach and attended college at UC Santa Barbara. After graduating Kathy spent about a decade exploring different cities and lived and worked in San Francisco, Boston and St. Louis. She settled down in Fullerton, CA in January 2013 and is ecstatic to be back in Southern California living near family. Kathy is a licensed clinical social worker who works part-time doing medical and psychiatric social work. She is married to Erik and is mommy to two girls, Elizabeth and Audrey. She is a former long-distance runner who once ran a marathon. Current passions include coffee, working out with mom friends, beer, and wine tasting, exploring all the kid friendly outings in Orange County and renovating her mid-century modern home and yard.