I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA for this post in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting CNC!
At the beginning of April, a year after working with a Speech-Language Pathologist on a regular basis, Quinn graduated Early Intervention (EI) with flying colors. The little guy made incredible progress in a short amount of time, and we couldn’t be happier with and more appreciative of the free services available to us here in Massachusetts. I’ll share more details of our experience, but, first, let’s rewind to how and why we decided to look into EI in the first place.
When Quinn was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with his 10th ear infection. The poor kid had one ear infection after the next. Basically, as soon as he got better (and took a round of antibiotics), he’d get another one. He also had sleep apnea (heaving breathing and snoring, often associated with pauses and gasps) and trouble sleeping at times. Quinn’s pediatrician eventually (after some persistence on our part) referred us to a specialist (Ear, Nose & Throat doctor) at Children’s Hospital. This doctor suggested that Quinn have a Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy, and the surgery made a huge difference in his overall health. He hasn’t had a single ear infection since, sleeps so much better, and is simply a happier kid!
While Quinn was feeling much better after his surgery, he still wasn’t talking all that much. At 22 months, he maybe had 6-8 words that he used regularly, and he was easily frustrated when he couldn’t communicate with us.
Quinn’s tantrums were epic and lasted pretty much all day long. Some days, he’d have one tantrum after the next without much of a break in between. We asked family and friends for advice. Some of them told us to ignore his tantrums, which, whoa, did not work for Qman. The one time we tried this tactic, he tantrumed for an hour before we decided to intervene. Mal and I felt awful. We also felt really alone and helpless during this time. Everyone in our immediate circle had happy, easygoing kids and just couldn’t relate to our struggles. We knew our child was unhappy, but we didn’t know what to do about it.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long before a friend at CrossFit mentioned Early Intervention to me. Her daughter went through something similar, so she knew exactly what we were going through. As soon as I got home, I immediately Googled Early Intervention to see what it was all about. I learned that it was a statewide service available to families of children between birth and three years of age, and they were totally free. In fact, EI makes it really easy for families to get the help that they need. The initial assessment and meetings (if your child qualifies for services) are all done in-home and the process to set everything up was simple and straight-forward. (I made a single phone call to schedule the assessment.) We really didn’t have anything to lose and we knew we needed to support Qman’s language acquisition and development since this foundation would definitely impact his future learning.
Education is really important to both Mal and me (he’s a teacher and my Master’s degree is in higher education administration), and the last thing we wanted was for Quinn to get frustrated with his communication skills and learning process. It’s so important to us that Quinn is able to utilize all of the resources needed to help him excel – now and in the future. Even though college is still many years away, it’s never too early to foster his excitement for learning.
I’m excited to partner once again with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour to continue furthering our family’s knowledge about the steps we need to take today in order to plan for Quinn’s future. We have a few investment/savings accounts already set up for Qman and contribute to them on a regular basis. I know that we have plenty of time (many years!!) to save, but our little guy turns 3 years old in just a few weeks – time is flying! Additionally, our financial representative has been instrumental in developing our finance goals. Fidelity representatives will be available to answer questions for parents at events during the U.Fund Dreams Tour, and I can’t say enough wonderful things about this program. It really does help you learn more about the resources and services available to you when planning for college and saving for your little one’s future. As parents, Mal and I are so appreciative that we were made aware of (free) programs like this one and Early Intervention.
Once I contacted our local Early Intervention office, things moved fairly quickly. The next week, we had Quinn’s initial assessment at our home, which was essentially four EI professionals playing with him while evaluating him. They used lots of toys and tasks to create his developmental profile, which focused on five main areas: Social Emotional/Personal Social/Interaction, Cognition, Motor Development, Adaptive/Self Care, and Communication. Quinn earned average scores in most areas, but scored quite low in Communication, which meant he qualified for a year of EI services.
After the initial testing was complete, we were matched with a Speech-Language Pathologist, who came to our house at a scheduled time once per week to work with Qman on his communication skills. She would often utilize toys to encourage words. She brought a big bag of them with her, and Quinn was always excited to see what was inside. For instance, she’d place toys “above” and “below” and “in” and “out” of a car garage and then ask Quinn to repeat her or ask him their position. We also incorporated his own toys into our sessions and even played outside a few times. The simplest toys (even from the Dollar Spot at Target) often made for the best learning opportunities (i.e. bubbles, plastic eggs, light-up bracelets, wind-up cars). We also spent quite a bit of time working on ways to encourage Quinn to follow directions and respond to requests. This was actually something he was not able to do at his initial assessment. A year later, he responds and follows multiple requests at once, which just goes to show you how far he’s come.
Today, on the language-front, Quinn is talking up a storm! He’s using more and more words every day and constantly surprises us with new ones. He mostly speaks in 3-4 word phrases, but often breaks out full sentences (with all sorts of interesting and funny thoughts)! Qman actually talks so much nowadays, it’s not unusual for him to chat the entire way to and from school. He’s turned into quite the Chatty Cathy! We’re so glad that he’s made such great strides through EI and, hopefully, it has set up Quinn for a lifetime of learning through college and beyond.
Early Intervention has truly been a blessing for our family. Quinn is such a happy and engaged kid nowadays. He’s even come out of his shell quite a bit and will often walk up to complete strangers– both young and old– to show them one of his toys or say something to them. It’s amazing to see how far our little guy has come since this time last year. He’s totally done a 180 and we couldn’t be more thankful to Early Intervention, their services, and wonderful professionals on staff.