Apr 27, 2020

Early Intervention

Our Early Intervention team usually plays a hands-on role to help babies and toddlers, so the shift to virtual visits has made it necessary to change their approach.

“It’s more challenging describing what to try and how to provide assistance without demonstrating it first,” said Amy Dowty, an HCDDS Early Intervention physical therapist. “But I actually think it’s a good challenge to have. It requires explaining things very clearly, as well as being creative with visual aids when needed, and making sure the parents feel comfortable implementing the strategies.”

Dowty said many children are making progress, which she attributes to parents having more time to work toward goals. During virtual visits, she’s been able to see first steps, the first time using words functionally, and other milestones. “We have been so pleased with Gigi’s progress,” said her mom, Lindsey Ayers. “Missing PT would have hindered her progress so we are grateful to be able to continue appointments virtually. It has allowed us to continue to develop her skills, strengthen her muscles and celebrate more successes.”

Developmental specialist Jen Bach is also seeing success with twins Savannah and Robert, who each have hearing loss in one ear. Bach, along with hearing specialist Kiley Larios, has been working with the twins since July and their parents were worried they’d start to regress with their skills during the pandemic. To help, they’ve been doing Zoom meetings every two weeks, bringing in other specialists as needed for coaching and to answer questions around movement, feeding and other skills.

“The families are stepping up to make it work, and they are getting down on the floor with their children to work on skills with them,” Bach said. “They have been setting up the camera so we are able to observe their play and talk them through ways to interact with their child to help them work toward their goals.”

Amy Leever, the twins’ mom, said the Early Intervention team is “going above and beyond” for them. “This means so much to me. They need all the help they can get,” she said.

Developmental specialist Elizabeth Miller is working with one family that faced a unique situation. Before COVID-19 became widespread and Ohio issued stay-at-home orders, Miller met Bodhi at his daycare and he was evaluated at Cincinnati Children’s.

The family was on vacation in Florida when the shutdowns started and they received his diagnosis via phone call. “It was very overwhelming for Bodhi’s family,” Miller said. “His mother shared the paperwork with me through email, and I helped her understand what they were saying, tried to support her and helped her decide how to proceed.”

They discussed treatment and, although many services closed during the shutdown, they continue to evaluate potential options. Miller is also working with the family to share strategies virtually and plan for service options when they become available.

“Before the pandemic, we periodically texted and emailed,” she said. “Now our communication has greatly improved, as well as our relationship.”
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