Jul 3, 2018

Reaching milestones with EI

a young mom with brunette hair sits with her 3 year old son who has down syndrome and their developmental specialist, who is a young woman with blonde hair
Nancy Schroeder enjoys celebrating the little things. It could be sorting toys by color or learning a new word in American Sign Language. Each milestone for her son Ian, 3, is a big deal.

“We love every success he has,” she said, glancing over at her son, who is darting around the living room between a table full of toys and a bowl of snacks. “He’s the best thing ever – and the goofiest person in our household.”

When Ian was born, he had pulmonary hypertension and spent two weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Before leaving the hospital, Ian was also diagnosed with Down syndrome. That’s when social workers and nurses stepped in to share information about Help Me Grow. The Schroeders didn’t know much about the program and were linked with Jennifer Bach, a developmental specialist with the Hamilton County DD Services’ Early Intervention team.

“For me, it was overwhelming. We had to learn about the diagnosis, and we were scared for our child and what it’d mean for our life,” Schroeder said. “Within a week of bringing him home, Jen came by for the first visit. It was clear she was on not just Ian’s team, but our family’s team.”

During their visits, Bach would listen to the family’s concerns, talk about their goals and focus on strategies to help Ian’s development. She’d also find ways to involve his big sister in activities to keep his development moving forward.

“Each family has its own routines and we need to learn those. Life isn’t structured, so we adapt to the family,” Bach said. “It’s one thing at a time, and Nancy is great about creating activities and opportunities for him to learn and progress.”

When families in Early Intervention receive a diagnosis for their child, Bach said they tend to focus on the “what ifs” and what they have been told their child “won’t do.” Her advice for families is to stay positive and when their child needs help, the EI team will provide whatever support they need to be successful. Bach said Ian, who recently aged out of the Early Intervention program, has done incredibly well and continues to improve.

“Having Jen – it’s peace of mind. She taught us about slowing down and not focusing on what he “should be” doing,” Schroeder said. “I have questions all the time, like any parent, and she helps me think outside the box, be creative and strategize what’s best for Ian.”

Early Intervention (EI) Services are for children younger than 3 and their families. In Ohio, early intervention is a statewide system with coordinated supports at the local level. Click here to learn more.
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