This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
Today I want to talk about early intervention and a family-focused local service for kids with developmental delays or disabilities.
Even before we found out about Loghan’s RERE diagnosis, we had already identified that she had developmental delays. Although it is still hard to say whether her delays are due to the late diagnosis of her hernia, RERE or a bit of both, a delay is, well, a delay. In Loghan’s case, she was missing milestones, not by much, but she was still behind, especially in speech and walking.
Our pediatrician first mentioned the Birth to Three (B-3) Program when we identified a flat spot on Loghan’s head. At the time, my husband and I chose to do physical therapy for her torticollis (tightness in the neck) through Sanford because we have decent health insurance. After Loghan’s hernia diagnosis, B-3 was mentioned again, but since we had met our deductible we chose to continue to do physical therapy through Sanford and speech therapy through The Speech Mom at Bloom (I’ll talk more about both of these in future posts).
As the end of 2019 crept closer, which meant having to meet a new deductible for 2020, and after receiving Loghan’s RERE diagnosis, B-3 was brought up as an option, yet again. This time I decided to do some research of my own and made the decision to have Loghan evaluated for enrollment in the program. This is quite the process, but it’s worth it!
Before I talk about the process I just want to say how important, I think, early intervention is. The sooner you can get your child the help they need, the sooner you will see results! Not only that, but also why it’s so important for you to be your child’s biggest advocate.
In our case, Loghan can’t tell us what is wrong or why she is feeling a certain way or if she can’t do something because it hurts or it’s scary or anything else. This is true for most babies and that is why it’s so important for you to know your child. You are their voice! Pay attention to what they are trying to tell you, however that may be, and run with it. Ask questions, if you don’t like the answer go somewhere else, ask more questions, be persistent, be that annoying parent to doctors because they won’t listen to you if you’re not. Fight to get your child what they need in order to have the best chance at being successful. Be proactive. Be brave. Be kind.
Okay, back to the B-3 Program. Here are some reasons why you should consider it as an option for your child if you think they have developmental delays or have a disability.
- It’s a FREE service through the Department of Education.
- They come to you!
- They are caring professionals.
- They go above and beyond.
- Did I mention that it’s FREE?
Now, you’re probably saying, “Just because something is free doesn’t mean you should do it.” I agree, but this service has so much to offer that it’s hard to say no. Let me explain more by starting with the process and my experience so far with the program.
The first thing you need to do is pick up your phone and call or email your local service coordinator, they will get you set up to have your child evaluated. This can be a little overwhelming and even a little intimidating. They come in like a herd of buffalo! I say this because there isn’t just one or two or even three people there to evaluate your child. There is six people total (think about this when you set a meeting place for the evaluation) – a physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, educator, nurse and your coordinator. We did Loghan’s evaluation at my dad’s house since that is where she was for daycare that day. Be prepared to get cozy if you’re working in a smaller space.
Once everyone has squeezed in and introduced themselves, they will start to interact with your little one. I thought Loghan might be overwhelmed with all the new faces but she played and showed them all she could do and only started getting a little fussy towards the end. While your child is being evaluated, the nurse goes over their medical history with you and they will ask how you are doing as well. I know how that question can be tough to answer without getting emotional, so prepare yourself. Nothing about why you are considering B-3 has probably been easy, so why start now.
Something to note about the evaluations, they can only evaluate based off what your child shows them during the evaluation. For example, if your child normally rolls all over your house but refuses to roll during the evaluation, they cannot mark down that your child is meeting that milestone (which could work in your favor if you want your child enrolled in the program). There are multiple things they look at and some things they can take based off “your word” so them not marking a couple things down they normally do or don’t do shouldn’t make that big of a difference in the end result.
Based on Loghan’s RERE diagnosis alone, we were pretty much guaranteed enrollment in the program, but I was secretly hoping her delays weren’t as bad as I thought and she would test out. She didn’t, but that’s okay because B-3 has only made our lives easier and Loghan stronger. The test results came back a couple weeks later and she was set up with a whole team of awesomeness. One thing to add here, don’t be afraid to follow-up. Remember, this is a free program and through the state so they are busy and they have a lot of kids coming through. Be your child’s advocate and, pardon my French, stay on their ass! The sooner you can start using their services the sooner you will be marking off those milestones for your little one and catching them up.
Based on your scores determines who is all on your team. Some kids might just need physical therapy while others might need a combination. Loghan has one of everything because she’s “high maintenance” as I like to say (I say that with humor). Let’s be honest, you can’t be serious all the time or you’ll go crazy…I know I would anyways!
Now, here’s another great thing about the B-3 Program. THEY COME TO YOU. No leaving work to take your kiddo to another appointment (we do that enough as it is). You choose the time. You choose the place. It’s that easy! We have Loghan’s team come to Grandma’s house since grandma is daycare. In the beginning I would leave work to make the sessions but as everyone got more comfortable I let grandma take the reins and I just pop in every now and again to make sure I’m staying up to speed on her progress.
We also still do physical therapy through Sanford, which I take her to, which is also another great thing to point out. You can just get services through B-3, B-3 plus additional services at other places or even just services at other places if you find out B-3 isn’t a fit for you and your family’s needs. I think you will find that it is though – and again, it’s FREE, you make it fit.
The reason I choose to continue physical therapy through Sanford after Loghan’s enrollment in the B-3 program is for a few reasons. One reason is that I am absolutely in love with her physical therapist at Sanford, Dr. Grant. He has been with us since Loghan was 2 months old and he knows us, he knows her. Another reason is that walking is one of our main goals so doubling up on physical therapy made sense to us. Lastly, if you are doing both services, you will notice there are differences between the type of service you get with each provider.
The services through B-3 are family focused and are there to help you understand your child’s development and provide you with training to help them. Like a coach. Great, right?! Yes and no.
To the left is Loghan working on one of her exercises – strengthening her core, working on her balance and stretching her hip flexor!
Hear me out. I can’t say enough good things about everyone involved, but, they are more hands off and more coaching. I love to learn new ways to help Loghan grow and develop, but I want/need someone that’s going to push her that extra mile during a session. B-3 is “soft”. They want to see your child improve but they aren’t going to “overdo it” at sessions. For example, if Loghan were to start fussing and blowing raspberries during a B-3 session her therapist would give her a break. If she did that same thing with Dr. Grant at Sanford, he would know she was working hard and make her push through it.
At the physical therapy sessions through Sanford, they still coach you, but they are all hands on deck and you watch and learn from a distance while they push your little one to the max. Dr. Grant pushes her to do better, to get out of her comfort zone, to progress. You don’t get that same intensity with the B-3 program and that might appeal to some parents out there, but not this mama! This mama wants results and for Loghan to be the best version of herself and then some. This mama has high expectations and without the help of her physical therapist at Sanford I stand firm in saying she would not be as far along as she is today.
Again, both options are great in my eyes for different reasons. Since grandma is our primary daycare, B-3 really helps her understand Loghan’s needs in order to succeed. It gives her the tools she needs to work with Loghan every day on different exercises to help us meet the goals we set for her as a team.
Loghan’s team is a great group of gals! After every session, they make you a copy of their evaluation and things to work on and point out things she is doing very well. They also follow-up with me via e-mail if they have additional questions or concerns that grandma might not have known how to answer. They are flexible if you need to reschedule a session and are very easy to talk to about ANYTHING!
Oh, and did I mention they go above and beyond? When Loghan needed hearing aids and insurance wouldn’t cover them, they personally wrote to a local charity to see if they could get assistance for us. They also gave us other charities and potential programs that we could reach out to for assistance on our own. They have brought Loghan toys to keep and new things to try when the typical items aren’t doing the trick. One time I posted in a Facebook group looking for recommendations and one of them saw it and sent me a message offering advice that had worked with another family she works with. They are committed, not only to your child succeeding, but as a support system for your entire family. The program is great. The people are great. Life is great with B-3!