Three Wheeling families are happy to share their experiences with West Virginia Birth toThree. They all have inspiring stories that they hope will encourage others to consider Birth to Three services.
The story of Larry and Annie
Valarie and Larry felt blessed with twins Larry and Annie. They spent their pregnancy months reading parenting books and resources, but nothing could have prepared them for the new reality they faced.
“We quickly found ourselves overwhelmed with life with newborn twins,” Valarie said. “We had double feedings, endless diaper changes, waking up twice as often in the middle of the night. In addition, Annie had severe cramps, she cried non-stop throughout her first year of life.
Their lives changed even more when the twins turned 5 months old, and their pediatrician, noticing that their milestones matched those of a 2-month-old, urged them to call Birth to Three for an evaluation. For the past two and a half years, the twins have taken advantage of everything Birth to Three had to offer.
From day one, the family received a lot of support and encouragement. A developmental specialist helped them manage colic, move out of our house, adjust to daycare, apply positive reinforcement, and improve sleep. The speech therapist advised Larry to have a hearing test, which led to tubes in his ears. They learned that the speech delay a
As a result, he cannot hear well.
A physical therapist was there the first time Larry climbed up to get on a slide in the park. She encouraged the family as he took his first steps and climbed the stairs. An occupational therapist was there for Annie’s first meal. She also helped them come up with solutions for Annie’s colic.
“We practiced the skills these providers taught us, and my kids thrived,” Valarie said. “The delays of my children are not comparable to those of some other children. Birth to three set my kids up for success and made me a better mother. When I talk to new parents who are
concerned about their child’s development, I immediately suggest Birth to Three.”
Annie and Larry were thriving by the time they reached their third birthday. They are now in kindergarten and doing well.
“In general, I think the parents are more affected than children,” Valarie said. “I can’t imagine navigating my kids’ delays without Birth to Three, but I can’t imagine motherhood in general without it either. The specialists and therapists have helped me become a better mother.”
She said her twins are now 5 and have a 2 year old brother. She still uses the solutions and tactics she learned during Birth to Three.
Amanda and Matthew noticed that their son, Owen, who was born five weeks early, was showing delays in his ability to talk, handle eating utensils, or sit in a chair. Owen also made minimal eye contact and had little attention span.
“When I expressed my concerns to other new moms, they referred me to Birth to Three,” Amanda said.
Owen thrived in the first month after Birth to Three’s intervention. Almost immediately, occupational therapy had him use utensils, sit in his chair, make eye contact, and be
aware of his surroundings.
“We are still working on his speech delay,” she said. “He goes through phases. One week he says some words, and the next week he doesn’t use them anymore.”
According to Amanda, therapists usually visit Owen at daycare, but home visits are more appropriate for her and her husband. Birth to Three therapists work at home or in another setting where the child feels most comfortable.
“Our coordinator has been a godsend,” she said. “The therapists reassured us and let us know that Owen is in transition and doing well. That is exactly what a mother needs to hear.”
Amanda said parents participating in the program shouldn’t be afraid to switch therapists.
“It has nothing to do with the therapist as a person, just the bond they have with your child,” she said. “In the end, we went through a few occupational therapists and speech therapists and decided we didn’t need a developmental therapist. It was all handled very professionally.”
She said switching isn’t a personality issue, just what worked best for Owen and their daily schedules.
Parker was two days old when the county shelter entrusted him to the care of Stefan and Joelle, who later adopted him.
The child was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS), a condition caused by in-utero drug exposure. The diagnosis prompted specialists from foster care agencies to suggest that Stefan and Joelle contact Birth to Three. He was barely a month old at his first evaluation.
Parker receives physical therapy and developmental therapy. While he has reached every developmental milestone, he has been delayed in reaching them. He is currently working on jumping, a skill he finds difficult due to reduced muscle tone, and categorizing objects by shape and color, socialization, and potty training.
“Parker is still receiving services,” Joelle said. “However, the impact on the parents is significant. We were parents trying to navigate the foster care system, a pandemic, and caring for a newborn with NAS for the first time. We had no idea what we were doing, and having Birth to Three in our house taught us more than any parenting book could ever do.
“We are beyond grateful to the therapists who are taking care of him, because they are also taking care of mom and dad. I think all new parents should use Birth to Three,” Joelle said, “because they can learn so much more than a pediatrician, a book, or their parents could ever help them. The key to any child’s outcome is early intervention. Attachment, eating, sleeping, comforting and their environment, including light, sound, music and laughter, are crucial components. They should use a professional to identify developmental stages.
She said Birth to Three specialists take care of the whole family. No references are needed,
and the service is free.