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 miles...it 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.