How did you discover that your child had special needs?
When Kale was about 7 months old we noticed that he was too quiet. About this time he had numerous ear infections and we had ear tubes placed in hopes of getting his ears healthy. We were told then, that after the tubes were placed he would start to coo and babble, but when Kale was about 15 months old he was still completely quiet. Though the pediatrician thought he was fine and there was no need to worry we insisted on a referral to Babynet. His Babynet evaluation really showed how significant Kale’s speech and language delay truly was. We left that evaluation with heavy hearts knowing the road we had ahead would be hard. We set a goal for Kale that day… get his speech caught up by age 3.
How did you learn about Easter Seals?
Shannon Blackstone, SLP with Easter Seals, was suggested to us by our Early interventionist. Shannon entered our lives in a time period that was difficult for our family, when we had far more questions than answers. She came in for her home sessions to work with Kale but she never shied away when I would ask “how” or “why” she did certain things. I saw her sessions as my time to learn how to help Kale. Shannon was always positive and treated Kale as a whole, not just his speech. After working with Kale for 2-3 months she asked me a question one day, “does he receive OT?” Though it was only inquisitive, it set a chain of events that would change Kale’s life. We quickly had him evaluated by an OT and found out that Kale had sensory issues and motor planning issues.
How do you feel your child is doing now in comparison to when they first started their journey?
We started to see progress once OT began and we started to recognize Kale’s sensory needs at home. At 2 years old Kale said his first word, and just before his 3rd birthday he said “mama.” There was progress but it was slow and heart wrenching as we would watch his gains turn into regressions. We watched his third birthday come and go and realized that he needed more; we started with the public school system. It was a wakeup call when a teacher said that Kale would always be in a self-contained class and that there was no way he would be “caught up” by the time he would start kindergarten. At this time Kale had gotten so frustrated with not being able to communicate he had started getting aggressive. With nowhere else to go we reached out to an ABA therapist. At the age of 3 Kale had 35 hours of ABA, 2 hours of speech, 2 hours OT and 1 hour of early intervention services a week. The kid had a full time job!! When ABA entered our lives all of Kale’s therapies got put into the fast lane. Within a year of starting ABA Kale’s speech was significantly more intelligible, he was using sentences, he was sitting through story times, he started potty training and he was interested in the world around him. His kind sweet spirit was shining through again and almost all of the aggressive behavior diminished.
What are they able to do now that they were not able to do before?
Today Kale is an amazing 5 year old. He started kindergarten this year, in a typical classroom, with an IEP that needed very few items. He can ask questions; express his feelings, his wants, and his needs. It’s amazing! People who evaluated him at age 3 can’t believe he is the same kid, the data truly shows how much growth he has had in such a short amount of time.
What kinds of support have been most helpful to you and why? (family, support groups, Therapists, Early Interventionist, etc.)
There are some true rock stars on Kale’s team.
Kale’s early interventionist, Lindsay was worth her weight in gold and turned out to be more than just an early interventionist, she became a friend. She was our information board, there was nothing she couldn’t figure out, and she always was right there fighting for Kale through everything and in any situation. Shannon, Kale’s speech therapist, was/is brilliant. She saw things in Kale in the beginning that no one else had picked up on, and set him on a different path. Kale is successful because she didn’t just look at his speech. She also gave our family hope during a time when we were pretty hopeless and that means so much to me. She never gave up on him. ABA changed Kale’s life significantly; Susan was able to help Kale learn how to learn. Her energetic, “it’s alright” attitude was exactly what Kale needed.
Kale is also fortunate to have a Memaw and an Uncle Nate that both have worked with special needs kids, these two were all in, and never said no when I asked for help. They made phone calls and read IEPs as well as supported our family emotionally as we learned how to navigate the special needs world.
I can’t thank Kale’s team enough these people are truly amazing, and have changed Kale’s life. THANK YOU TEAM KALE!!