By Sarah Garcia
Our ECI journey has been incredible, invaluable and much more than I ever expected. We are so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful program. When the pediatrician first recommended speech services for my daughter Olivia, I was not excited. The idea that Olivia needed an intervention at such a young age didn't make sense to me, but I knew that I had to be open minded and more importantly, to put my daughter's needs first.
Jocelyn and ECI have been an amazing source of guidance not only for Olivia, but for me as well. I remember the first goal Jocelyn gave us. It was for Olivia to be able to say 20-25 words clearly and consistently. At the time, my daughter was saying next to nothing so the goal felt impossible. I remember feeling overwhelmed with the idea of Olivia having to say so much so soon. Jocelyn was extremely supportive and reminded me that this was a process. She made it clear that I was not alone and this was a process we would work through together. She encouraged the family to work together to guide and stimulate Olivia's speech. She showed me how to take it step by step and week by week while providing us with invaluable support and feedback that I will always be grateful for. Jocelyn came over each week with a warm smile, helpful handouts, answers to the very specific questions I had and invaluable tips on encouraging Olivia to find her voice.
Before ECI, I thought the interactions and engagement I had with my daughter were perfect. I was a stay at home mom and spent my days reading books to Olivia, taking her on ad ventures and talking to her about our day. Because I already dedicated my entire day to her and gave her so much time and attention, I didn't think there was any room for improvement! That was until I watched, in amazement, as Jocelyn played with Olivia. Watching them together taught me how to play in ways that encouraged Olivia to use her words for expression and to help get her needs met. By watching Jocelyn and questioning her about the techniques she used, I learned to stimulate Olivia's voice and to encourage her critical thinking by making small and consistent changes in our routine; simple changes such as offering Olivia choices of breakfast instead of just serving her food. Offering her food choices and asking her which she would like encouraged her to begin speaking first thing in the morning. The questions were as simple as, "Olivia, would you like ice cold water or ice cold milk?" or "Would you like strawberry yogurt or vanilla yogurt?" We even started adding details about the labels of her favorite smoothies. These were questions like, "Would you like the smoothie with the football on it or the one with the trumpet?" Jocelyn taught me to recognize the million opportunities that each day provided to teach and encourage Olivia to speak. The biggest motivator for me was seeing what Olivia was capable of when I began to encourage her to speak more. From that point on, anything and everything became a teaching opportunity and my parenting style completely changed. I went from completely anticipating her needs and making sure they were met to having her tell me what she needs so that I can meet those needs.
Olivia became more and more excited to play with Jocelyn and by the first couple of months we knocked the first goal out of the park! Each time Jocelyn left my home, I felt encouraged to continue to use the tips she taught me and we were amazed at how quickly we saw results! It was incredible how quickly Olivia was picking up words. Throughout this process, I found myself becoming a more confident parent with each and every week. My daughter went from saying almost nothing to saying full phrases like, "Mama, can I eat this?" before eating a snack, asking me to "hold this please," when she doesn't want to carry her toy while we are visiting the aquarium and saying, "thank you very much!" when she is offered strawberries. In addition to this progress, I feel the work Olivia and I have put into this program has helped to strengthen the already deep bond we share
I want to thank Jocelyn for being patient, kind and for providing all of the information I needed to help encourage Olivia to blossom. I want to thank ECI and Jocelyn for helping Olivia find her voice! We will never forget our experience and we highly recommend ECI.