Early Intervention 20 Years Later
Sometimes life brings you full circle, and we’re reminded about the immense impact that we can have on another’s future. Zoe was born 12 weeks early, at only 28 weeks gestation. Her lungs weren’t fully developed, she had difficulty breathing and bleeding in her brain, and would need intensive medical care.
At six months old, Zoe was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy is caused by damage to the areas of the brain that control movement. Zoey had a hard time controlling her arms and legs; they were very stiff.
She was quickly connected to an occupational therapist and physical therapist through Any Baby Can.
"Any Baby Can was there from the first minute of her diagnosis. Even before we left the hospital, they were preparing a plan for Zoe," remembers Teresa, Zoe's mother.
The physical therapy was challenging, and often uncomfortable. Her parents and her therapist, Lauretta, would need to help her learn to control her body and use her legs to stand and walk. Lauretta recalls Zoe’s personality:
"Even though she was only one year old, Zoe was very intelligent and strong-willed! She wanted to play and have fun, not do physical therapy exercises! She would decide what she wanted to play, and we had to incorporate it into a therapy activity."
Together, they saw a lot of progress as Zoe began standing and learning to walk with a walker. Her determination would serve Zoe well, as would the life-changing early interventions she received.
A Beautiful Circle
That was more than 21 years ago. Zoe is now 24 and a student at The University of Texas at Austin studying speech language pathology. Despite some physical challenges, she has excelled in her field. Her childhood therapist, Lauretta, is still with Any Baby Can, providing physical therapy to young children throughout the Austin area.
"If I hadn’t received that support, who's to say where I would be now. Who knows how that would have affected where I am now," says Zoe.
It was fortunate happenstance that brought Zoe and her therapist Lauretta back together after all of these years. Through her studies at UT Austin, Zoe began a speech therapy internship with Any Baby Can. With everyone working remotely during the Coronavirus pandemic, Lauretta recognized Zoe’s name during a staff meeting. It was only later that Lauretta put it together and realized that it was the same Zoe that she had treated many years ago!
"Any Baby Can made it possible. The therapies got those connections in her brain going again, that were lost. And it’s synchronicity that she’s come around full circle and working with Early Childhood Intervention. It’s really beautiful," says Teresa.
It’s all been possible because of Zoe’s perseverance and commitment, as well as the support of therapists, schools and, of course, her parents.
Zoe graduates in 2021 and is looking forward to a career in speech therapy and being able to positively influence so many lives.
"I firmly believe that without early intervention, she would not be as successful in meeting her goals, as she is today," adds Teresa.
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