Early Intervention is a service available to any Licking County child — from birth to age 3 — with a developmental delay. Babies born premature, including twins and triplets, have benefited from the program.
The Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities (LCBDD) Early Intervention program supports children — ages birth to 3 — with developmental delays or a diagnosis that is likely to result in a developmental delay.
Babies born too early often have a higher risk of developmental delays and are eligible for Early Intervention.
The March of Dimes defines premature birth as birth before 37 weeks and estimates that 1 in 10 babies are born premature in the U.S. every year. Twins, triplets and other “multiples” are six times more likely to be born early.
When “multiples” leave the hospital and head home to Licking County, they are often referred by doctors and hospitals to Early Intervention. Here are the stories of local twins, and triplets, who have benefited from the program.
The Odenthal twins
Ashley and Josh Odenthal, of Pataskala, were surprised to find out they were pregnant with identical twins.
They also weren’t expecting their sons, Owen and Nate, to be born at 27 weeks and four days.
Owen was in the hospital for 101 days and Nate was in the hospital for 91 days.
When they went home, Childrens Hospital referred them to Early Intervention. They began working with Michelle Chapman, a developmental specialist for LCBDD.
“It’s hard at first, having someone come into your house. You worry, will they judge me?” Ashley said. “But it never felt that way. It felt like a very knowledgeable mentor or peer was coming in to help us.”
With Owen, Michelle was able to show his parents activities to improve his core strength. Nate has to work on his motivation to roll and crawl. Both boys are also working on their verbal skills.
Both Josh and Ashley work full time — and also have a 2-year old daughter. They are thankful that Michelle has been willing to work around their schedules.
If they have a question between appointments, Michelle is always willing to help.
“I’d encourage any family to look into this program,” Ashley said. “It’s hard for me to find the words to express how much it has helped us.”
The Jones triplets
Each one of the Jones triplets — Raiden, Aqualynn and Skylar — has a different personality.
But they have all benefited from Early Intervention, said their mother Cathryn Jones.
The triplets were born on Christmas Eve, but their due date was March 21.
Raiden, was the heaviest, weighing just 2 pounds, 5 ounces at birth.
Each baby spent weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit at Riverside Methodist Hospital. When they were all came home to Newark in April, they started Early Intervention with Diane Dodson, a developmental specialist for LCBDD.
“I didn’t want to wait to see if (any delays) would happen,” Cathryn said. “If any of them had any issues, I wanted it to be taken care of sooner, rather than later.”
Each triplet has different goals, but Cathryn said both she and the babies have come a long way.
“Being a first time mom, the experience has been pretty incredible,” she said. “It’s made me more confident in their development. I don’t think they’d be as far along as they are if I didn’t have that interaction with someone who knows about their development.”