Ethan J

Jessica had a difficult third trimester of her pregnancy. Diagnosed at 27 weeks with gestational diabetes, then at 30 weeks with preeclampsia which at 32 weeks was causing organ failure, the doctors decided it was imperative to deliver her baby eight weeks early. In came to the world Ethan, weighing 3 lbs, seven ozs and breathing on his own.

After a 6-week stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Ethan came home. The hospital gave Jessica and her husband information on Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program. For the first 18 months, they did not have the need for it. Ethan was hitting developmental milestones on his actual age as opposed to his adjusted age, which is quite uncommon for premature babies.

Then, at 18 months, Ethan wasn’t making words or sounds that would indicate he was getting ready to talk. While his pediatrician wasn’t too concerned, his mother was. “I knew that we would have some developmental delays, and I didn’t want this one to get overlooked,” she said. “I could see that he was trying to communicate, and I wanted to give him the tools to get him there.”

Jessica immediately called Easter Seals North Georgia’s Babies Can’t Wait program thinking that it would be months before Ethan would receive therapy services. She was pleasantly surprised when Debra, the service area coordinator, called and scheduled Ethan’s evaluation within weeks.

It has been a little over a year since Ethan started receiving therapy. His therapist, Amy, comes to their house for an hour every other week. Since both Jessica and her husband work, she appreciates the fact that Amy is always so flexible in her schedule. “She would come early in the morning so that I could get to work by ten a.m.,” said Jessica.

Amy realized fairly quickly that Ethan was an active boy. He responded to action words. She would have Ethan say “go, go, go” and “up, up, up” when he was playing with his toys. She taught Jessica that Ethan’s play always has a purpose.

Recently, ESNG’s speech therapist, Cristina Jones, has taken over speech therapy with Ethan. She immediately noticed that Ethan was “tongue tied,” a condition that affects the mobility of the tongue. Jessica and her husband decided to have it surgically fixed. “I didn’t want any more roadblocks for Ethan - especially a condition that we could get fixed,” Jessica said.

Between surgery and therapy, Jessica says that Ethan is an entirely different child. She goes to pick him up from daycare, and his caretaker often says, “He was a total chatterbox today.” Ethan has about 150 words in his word bank and is stringing three to four words together to make sentences. Jessica notices that Ethan is trying to make an effort to engage in conversation.

Without Babies Can’t Wait, Jessica believes she would have been frustrated. Yes, she could have researched resources online, but without the one-on-one, in-home therapy Ethan received, she knows that Ethan would not be the well-adjusted, social and confident toddler he is today.

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