A Dad’s Special Bond
Whether it's mom, dad, a grandparent or other consistent, loving individual, a strong bond between caregiver and child allows kids to grow and develop to their full potential.
For families in our Early Childhood Intervention program, which provides physical, speech and occupational therapies to children under the age of 3, encouraging the bond between parent and child is key to success.
When Lauretta Jackson started working with Ryan and his family, she could tell how smart and determined he was. But Ryan was also very resistant to letting Lauretta perform physical therapy exercises with him directly. He would cry and get upset when others touched him. But luckily, Any Baby Can’s commitment to parent education and whole family support allowed her to pivot and adapt.
Skills, Confidence and Connection
His parents, Jake and Jessica, and even baby sister Olivia, became part of Ryan’s therapy sessions. Jake comes from a large family and has worked with children in the past through various after school programs.
“When Jess and I lived in San Antonio, I worked at a nonprofit organization that worked with kids who were low income and had various disabilities. I enjoyed connecting with the kids and helping them grow in any way I could,” says Jake, Ryan’s father.
He didn’t realize this skill would be so critical in his own life, with his own son.
When Ryan was born, he was sent to the NICU and diagnosed with torticollis and low muscle tone. He’s needed physical therapy since he was two days old. Ryan’s parents were connected to Any Baby Can through a social worker and Ryan began receiving speech therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy.
Engaging Parents in Child Development
Physical therapy can be difficult for a child. They’re asked to stretch their abilities and do things that are hard for them. Our therapists are adept at working with children and families, and make exercises as fun and engaging as possible. But no one knows their child like their own parent or caregiver.
Ryan has a special connection with his dad, who has been especially effective in working with Ryan in his exercises. The family coordinates sessions early in the morning so that dad can be a part of most of them. Lauretta will sit nearby or demonstrate exercises with Olivia while Jake works simultaneously with Ryan. They wrestle, laugh, and make games that encourage Ryan’s physical development, and strengthen the attachment between father and son.
“Jake has a great sense with kids in general, and a truly special relationship with Ryan. He not only performs the therapies we discuss but comes up with creative ways to work on Ryan’s goals,” says Lauretta Jackson, physical therapist with Any Baby Can’s ECI program.
Path to Success
In addition to physical therapy, Ryan is receiving support with sensory integration, including feeding and hand function. He also works with a speech therapist to support language development. Since returning to in-home visits—his services began as virtual visits during the pandemic—Ryan has made huge strides. He is now able to walk, pick his head up, and tolerate tummy time as he gains strength in his upper body.
“Our therapists and overall support system around Ryan and our family make us feel very thankful and blessed. We would not be where we are today without all of the help and knowledge that has been given to us. We are extremely thankful,” says Jake.
Ryan will turn three soon and age out of ECI services. His team is preparing for the future by collaborating on a plan for daycare, therapies, and any specialists Ryan may need to give him the best start to the rest of his life.
We offer a training course designed to teach parenting and nurturing skills to dads and father figures.
Our parent coaching model supports families as they learn how to help their children reach new milestones.
Improving your parenting skills and connection with your children has long-lasting benefits.