Jack’s early arrival puts him at risk for developmental and cognitive delays. In the NICU, he began receiving therapies (OT, PT & Music) as soon as he was stable to help limit the impact prematurity would have on his development. One of the things I loved about the therapists in the NICU was that they helped us comfort Jack and respond to his cues, when there was little else we could do for him. His OT, especially, offered reassurance about Jack’s future, taught me infant massage and gave me some really great advice as he was discharged, “Just play with him!” I know now that she was actually giving me real OT advice, for a baby’s “occupation” is play, yet it helped to think that we’d be able to do typical things with Jack at home, between all the tube feedings and medication administrations. She definitely set the stage for our positive experience with Jack's journey through Occupational Therapy.
Jack was referred to Early Intervention in the NICU, so we knew that he would most likely be receiving more therapy at home. His first of many, many evaluations showed delays in all areas (which was expected) and along came Miss Lisa in January 2011, just 2 months after Jack was discharged. Here’s what we had to say about Jack’s first session: “He had his first OT session with Miss Lisa last week and he loved her. She had him laughing so hard, which made me laugh so much my cheeks hurt :) He will have OT once a week for as long as he needs it. The EI intervention program is great!” (February, 2011)
|Jack with Miss Lisa during one of their very first playdates.|
And we’ve been laughing ever since. Miss Lisa came along at a time when I was my most fragile as a new mom. I was overwhelmed by all the special care that Jack needed and beyond scared that he would get sick and end up back in the hospital. I’ve mentioned many times that we limited his exposure to people (and germs), but Miss Lisa was one person we allowed in our home despite our fears. I knew how essential it was for him to have the best chance at developing as he should and she taught me how to help Jack be the best Jack he could be. I knew she was the right therapist for Jack and our family, especially when she takes her shoes off and puts them outside, deeming them too dirty for Jack to touch! She listened to me cry about Jack’s feeding issues and planned to celebrate his eating success with a Happy Meal date someday. When I was so afraid that Jack might “break” or might pull out his NG tube, she encouraged us to treat him like a normal baby; a message that took awhile to sink in, but it did. For the past two years, she has offered support and a listening ear and has been Jack’s biggest cheerleader and a sounding board for his mommy! She did as much for Jack as she did for me, and we can’t thank her enough. I am most definitely a better parent because of her influence.
|Jack making some standing progress, with support from Miss Lisa, of course.|
I know she is a really effective OT, based on all the awesome progress Jack has made (and I have made as his momma). But what makes her that way is that her sessions don’t seem like a session; they are therapy disguised as a play-date for Jack. She offers very simple solutions and advice that make a huge impact on Jack’s development – from not scraping his face with a spoon so as not to contribute to oral aversions to placing a bag of sugar on his push toy to give him more leverage for walking. There’s “marching in the band” and stepping on the couch cushions. She helped Jack develop into a master of “container play” and now he is always putting stuff away! He loves his time with Miss Lisa. And I think it’s safe to say she feels the same…I have proof in the tears she shed when he sang his ABCs and the excitement she displayed when he sat up on his own, along with the many other milestones met with her support!
|Working on some fine-motor skills.|
The great thing about Early Intervention and the therapies it offers is the support and “eyes” on your child. It’s also the most disheartening aspect…having your child and your parenting under such scrutiny and knowing that your child has delays. A large part of me just wanted Jack to be able to do things without so much help. Yet, I have always been extremely grateful for all the therapies and support offered through Early Intervention. And, since the help comes in the form of Miss Lisa, we couldn’t be more blessed. Sadly, as Jack approaches age 3, we will need to transition to the local intermediate unit for his services and say goodbye to Miss Lisa (professionally, but hopefully not personally). To say she will be missed is an understatement and I think we are both in denial about this upcoming transition.
|Happy Meal Date|
Happy Occupational Therapy Month!
P.S. After Jack’s first year with Miss Lisa, we made her a photo book of all of the progress he made with her help.
The new way to make a photo album: photo books by Shutterfly.