Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reid's First Graduation Cap and Gown Style...Early Intervention...Connecting With Other Moms

I recently posted about physical therapy, the use of the Wii...and Reid no longer needing services from his in home physical therapist...a graduation of sorts in terms of gross motor skills. That post actually made me think of Reid's first true blue cap and gown graduation when he was 12 months. We had been sooo fortunate to hear of an Early Intervention Program in Laguna Beach funded by the Assistance League . (If you are reading this and live within 30 is definitely worth the drive!) This program is for babies with special needs, including preemies, 0-12 months. It is fabulous for many reasons...they structure the morning with first a music and movement time for the children and then move you into stations that you and your child rotate through. Each station has a specialized therapist there to work with your child on either occupational therapy, gross motor skills, feeding and oral issues, cognitive growth and/or infant stimulation. This was all fabulous and Reid benefited greatly from it...however the part I benefited the most from was the last hour of the program, I get choked up just thinking about it. A unique aspect of this program was that last hour...women who are members of the Assistance League volunteer their time by coming and rocking the babies and feeding them their bottles while the moms get an hour to go upstairs and share with one another, cry together, and just sit with others who "get it"...who get what it feels like to raise a little one with special needs, who have similar birth stories, who understand the emotions that go hand in hand with this road we are on.  What a special time...and as you can imagine lots was discussed, shared, and processed through behind those closed doors for so many of us.

I actually did not start the program until Reid was nearly 7 months. I didn't feel like I was ready any time before that...I was still living in my little cocoon I had built for myself and was feeling too overwhelmed with all the in home therapies he was receiving to even think about getting out of the house super early and spending 3 hours on more therapy. Well, if I could go back in time....I would have started the program with Reid as soon as they would of had me. Two things have truly helped me along this road....the interaction with those other mothers early on...and my blog. To connect with others who are walking in your same shoes is more than therapeutic, it is beautiful. I realized this the first day I went to the Early Intervention Program and I had not even made it inside yet, I was still just in the parking lot and looked over and saw one of the moms, who I now know as my friend Jocelyn. I remember seeing her getting her son out of her car who was close in Reid's age and I saw that he had Down syndrome too. She was beautiful, put together, had a smile on her face...and as I stood there by my car I had tears suddenly find their way to the corner of my eyes. I couldn't wait to talk with her because I knew she "got it". That was the piece I realized I was missing... connecting with others who also have a child with Down syndrome. That was 2 years ago and I have now met so many beautiful moms who "get it" and I am so grateful... I am a better mom for it.

Below are a couple more pictures from the EIP group...dressed for Halloween
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Nan P. said...

No matter what we go through in life, the most important thing is to interact with those who "get it" simply because they have been there, or are there. From my experience at different levels and in different situations, this is the best way to get through what life throws at us.

Cathal's parents brought him to Early Intervention when he was only 3 months old, as soon as he was well enough after his first surgery. I think that it was very beneficial for him, but more importantly so for his mum. And indirectly for me too, as I have also got to meet his little friends and their parents.

Cute photos!

Mel said...

I had tears in the corners of my eyes reading this. I know EXACTLY what you mean- we moved so that Luke could attend a similar programme, and it has been so worthwhile.

Love the photos, especially the last one with the gorgeous green fairy giving Reid the once-over! If looks could kill! LOL

Kele said...

OH MY GOODNESS! What a precious graduate he makes!! And how precious that you have found some amazing friendships through your time there, that in itself is priceless! Big hug to ya girl!
I think we need to chat pretty soon, would love to talk to ya and catch up!

SunflowerMom said...

What a great program! I do agree that making connections that first year is so helpful! I would of loved to had access to a program like that.

(and I love Reid in his pirate costume!)

Hector and Jennifer Varanini Sanchez said...

Oh dear he is so cute! I hope to meet him some day!!!!
I just adore him!
Way to go Reid!!! YOU DID IT!!!

sasha said...

oh he is so cute. The program that you go to sounds great.

Heather said...

Some of THE cutest pictures I have seen!!Love to you all.We are thinking of going to the Aquarium of the Pacific there .. any thoughts on how you all like it or if you might like to join us??

Cheri said...

The aquarium is great! Luke has space camp all week until 12:00, we could meet you afterwards if you go this week...otherwise open the rest of the summer. I'll send you an email.

My name is Sarah said...

Oh such a cute little graduate.

Jenny said...

Reid looks so cute in his cap and gown!