The Power of Hope
Update on Randy, 14 years later
Randy is a graduate of Any Baby Can’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program. Soon he will be a high school graduate. This milestone has prompted his mom Melissa to reflect on their experiences and she reached back out to Any Baby Can to share his successes.
Life-Changing Early Intervention
When Randy was born, Melissa knew something was off. She worked at a children’s hospital, and she knew that her son wasn’t developing as he should. Her colleague and pediatrician sent her to Any Baby Can’s ECI program when Randy was 2 months old. He was eventually diagnosed with hypotonia, intellectual disabilities, speech impairment, and sensory integration challenges.
A social worker from Any Baby Can came to their house to get all of his services set up: physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and specialized skills training. This became her community.
Without other outside support, she leaned on her Any Baby Can partners for support in raising Randy. Together, they created goals and worked diligently through them, one at a time. With Any Baby Can’s parent coaching model, staff work directly with parents and caregivers to engage with their child in a way that benefits their physical, emotional and social development, as well as foster the parent-child relationship.
“We wanted to help him, but we didn’t know how to do that. Any Baby Can gave me the knowledge to work better with him. They taught me the entire time,” says Melissa.
The days and weeks were long, but small wins were celebrated. Any Baby Can helped Melissa make goals manageable and milestones achievable. The therapists offered ideas, explained behaviors, showed her how to get Randy’s needs met so that he could learn, grow and thrive.
The Work of Early Intervention
They worked on relational skills, as well as practical tools that Randy needed.
Since he was language delayed, his speech therapist taught Randy baby sign language. They printed pictures of items around the house or activities throughout the day—like having lunch, going outside, reading—so he could point to a picture to express his needs. Melissa still does this today to help Randy when he’s struggling with words.
His physical therapist taught Melissa that Randy struggled to recognize faces. She showed mom and dad how to bond and form an attachment with Randy. She encouraged them to do swimming with him, and carry a backpack around the house to build his muscle tone. Melissa still integrates activities like these for Randy.
They came up with creative ways, new games and age-appropriate activities to keep him engaged. One game they played was Simon Says to work on listening, repeating and mimicking—and also just a fun way to get him to respond to a request. Melissa says that Randy continued to use Simon Says in elementary and middle school, which helped him remember and cope at school.
Pushing Negativity Aside
Melissa re-arranged a whole room to better serve Randy, setting up stations like you’d see at a preschool. She took what the therapists taught her and created an environment where he could learn and thrive.
She had specified times of day for his therapies and to work on his sensory integration. She coordinated play groups to give Randy peer models and encourage communication.
This commitment to his learning continued after they transitioned out of Early Childhood Intervention. Melissa’s case manager at Any Baby Can connected them to community resources, helped her enroll him in school, and find home health therapies. Melissa and Randy worked with many other therapists and professionals over the years, but Melissa credits the transformative experience at Any Baby Can for the continued successes in her son’s life.
As the years passed, Randy continued to gain new skills, but the work was difficult. Many people told Melissa that he wouldn’t get out of diapers until he was 10, that he would never ride a bike, that he wouldn’t be able to be an independent adult.
“I just heard so much negativity. He’ll never be able to do this. Never be able to do that. It’s frustrating to be a parent of a child with special needs,” she adds.
But Melissa had other plans.
A Path for a Better Future
Melissa leans on the lessons she learned from Any Baby Can, where she says they gave her a vision and a path for a better future. Most of all, Melissa gained life-long tools that she still uses to this day to help Randy. Melissa felt empowered to work with her child and to advocate for his needs.
“Now I can look back and see that it was those foundations, those steps, that helped us. If it wasn’t for Any Baby Can, I don’t think Randy would be doing half of what he’s doing now.”
He’s graduating high school this year and looking at college classes. Randy can read, write and do math. He can ride a bike, count money, tell you his phone number and address. He knows how to engage with people around him. He is succeeding at school, where teachers love him and he’s made friends. Randy is prepared for the rest of his life thanks to the foundational work made in the early years of brain development, and the unwavering commitment and hope of his family.
Hear from Melissa
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