Brothers Colson (4) and Andersen (3) are polar opposites. Where Colson is cautious and reserved, Andersen is curious and fearless.
Together, with Easterseals, they are beating the odds.
Born prematurely, both boys required surgery shortly after birth. And when they came home from the hospital, they needed additional care to reach the developmental and physical milestones of others their age.
That’s when their mother, Moriah Brashear, found Easterseals.
“I don’t think I would have the children I have today if it weren’t for Easterseals’ services,” she said. Today, her children are the active, intelligent, loving and silly little boys you’d expect, who run, jump, play, and swim.
It’s taken some extra work to get them there – even now, Colson receives speech and occupational therapy, and Andersen occupational therapy – and she’s grateful to have found a champion for her children in Easterseals.
Much of the boys’ progress is because Moriah knew from the start that Easterseals would help her sons thrive. The people there continually showed her that they were just as invested in her sons’ growth and achievement as she was. It was also clear that working with Easterseals was a commitment for the entire family. And now, Moriah describes Easterseals as part of that family.
Colson James was born at 28 weeks; weighing 2 lb. 1 oz. During his 84-day stay in the hospital, he had surgery that was marked by many complications dividing his time spent in the hospital between the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Progressive Care Unit.
When Colson was sent home, he needed to be connected to an oxygen and apnea monitor, and assisted by a home health nurse.
Moriah remembers well the slew of appointments they had on their schedule in those early weeks: Pulmonary specialists, gastroenterologists, geneticists, pediatricians. As a new mom, it felt overwhelming.
While in the hospital, Moriah found Easterseals South Carolina through a referral on BabyNet, a state interagency that matches infant and toddlers with developmental delays with resources in the area. Within weeks of returning home from the hospital, Easterseals professionals were in her living room providing occupational and physical therapy for Colson.
She also worked with an Early Interventionist, who helped walk her through every step of this new phase, from managing the many doctors’ appointments and coordinating with the physical, occupational, and speech therapists; to providing emotional support and reassurance.
“You’re taking care of this little child you weren’t able to hold,” Moriah said. “[My Early Interventionist] helped me to know that I wasn’t going to break my child. That gave me the peace of mind I needed to know that nothing bad was going to happen.”
A year and 19 days later, little Andersen Michael was born at 29 weeks. He too needed surgery, but Andersen’s time in the hospital was not as complicated as Colson’s. His stay was half the time, and when he did go home, there was no oxygen or apnea monitor. No days of back-to-back appointments.
“Andersen was my ‘let’s just take it easy and enjoy having a baby’ child,” Moriah said with a smile.
Since the proper supports were already in place, thanks to Easterseals, when Andersen arrived home from the hospital, the transition was smoother.
Today the boys are working on goals like drawing circles and straight lines. Colson is learning to be more comfortable in his own skin, and Andersen is learning to be more cautious of his surroundings. In the fall, they will join a soccer league.
Moriah offers the following advice for new Easterseals parents: “Get that Early Interventionist who finds the same amount of joy and accomplishment that you feel when your child does something. Someone who says ‘That’s incredible! Good job, buddy!’ You want them to have the same passion that you have for your children.”
As Colson and Andersen grow, one thing is for sure – they’ll always have Easterseals cheering them on along the way.
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