(Note: This story is courtesy of Sheila Climer, Sr. Intake Service Coordinator at Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development. Names and images are changed to protect privacy.)
Brad was a healthy child, but his struggle with early speech caused his mother to worry.
Initially, Brad could only say the word “hot” when something felt warm to his touch and he used an “ah” sound for everything else. As he continued to grow, his limited vocabulary and ability to speak gave his parents little hope that he would develop normally.
Eventually, when it became clear that he wasn’t simply going to “grow out of it,”Brad’s family sought early intervention services with Le Bonheur Early Intervention and Development (LEAD), one of United Way’s network agency partners.
Le Bonheur’s LEAD program provides a comprehensive array of services and support designed to meet the needs of children who are developing with developmental delays and their families.
Through the LEAD program, Brad began receiving services to improve his expressive language skills.
“Specifically, he learned to name common objects and pictures and to say social words such as ‘hi,’ ‘bye,’ and ‘thank you,’” said an early intervention specialist who worked with Brad. “We worked weekly to address all his areas of development including motor, communication, self help/adaptive, cognitive and social emotional skills.”
Brad received weekly services for 14 months and afterwards was visited at home by the specialist who helped him. This was a new plan for providing early intervention services in the child’s natural home environment.
“We have really been blessed to have had the LEAD services in our home,” Brad’s mother said. During visits, the intervention specialist modeled activities for Brad’s family and provided information on resources, answered questions and addressed concerns.
Brad will be 3-years-old soon and will be aging out of the early intervention services. According to counselors, he has made steady progress and is talking spontaneously in sentences and answering questions. A recent speech therapy evaluation resulted in a finding of no speech-language delays.
Thanks to your support of United Way, programs like LEAD are able to reach young children and provide early help so they can start school – and life – ready to thrive and succeed.