My name is Natalie, and I have 3-year-old son named Charlie who started early intervention (EI) services in 2010. Charlie is a big mover; he began crawling at 5 months and hasn’t stopped moving since. But one thing we noticed when he turned one was that he wasn’t trying to talk. Charlie would babble a bit and occasionally say “ma-ma” or “da-da,” but that was it. Charlie’s dad and I asked the pediatrician for some advice, and he told us that if Charlie still had no language by 18 months that we should go ahead and have him tested.

At 19 months, we had Charlie assessed for EI eligibility. We had a speech evaluation as well as a developmental evaluation to check his fine and gross motor abilities. His large motor scores were excellent, but Charlie lagged in the areas of speech and social skills. So he began receiving speech and language services at home. Through the phenomenal work of his speech and language pathologist (SLP), Charlie began to make amazing gains. The SLP determined that Charlie’s attention span was a challenge to his development of speech. He really had difficulty paying attention. She told us that she believed that Charlie had a sensory imbalance and that he might benefit from occupational therapy. The EI program added occupational therapy to strengthen his upper body and enhance his posture. Charlie is making incredible progress.

When you first realize that there might be something different about your child, the emotional stress is indescribable. You initially think, “Was it something I did wrong as their parent?” It can be hard to handle. For us, that emotional challenge quickly turned into a positive motivator. We were thrilled when we saw the progress that our son was making because of EI services. You don’t realize how much the therapy is needed until you begin. Charlie’s father and I are happy that we were able to get our son services at such an early age. I cannot stress enough how important it was for us to get our son services when we did.

I realize that it is a little taboo to suggest to other people that their children may need some EI services. However, I still find myself advocating for other families that are on the fence about whether or not they should start EI services with their child. I tell my story about how quickly Charlie responded to the therapy and how much progress he has made in the past year. The best advice I can give to families is: “Don’t be shy or have a closed mind when it comes to EI services. Let the professionals come into your life because they will help your child.”

Charlie’s Mother is an Advocate