For Harper Raphael and her family, connecting with Early Intervention was life changing.
There was a time when taking her daughter to a crowded event seemed impossible for Sarah Raphael.
But several weeks ago, she took 2-year-old Harper and her older sister to see Disney on Ice. And everyone had a wonderful time.
Harper was thrilled to see her favorite Disney characters and enjoyed dancing to the music.
For Sarah, it was an exciting example of how far her daughter has come.
Since she began receiving support from the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Early Intervention program in June of 2017, Harper has made great strides with her speech and social interactions.
Sarah first began sharing her concerns about Harper with a pediatrician at her 18 month check up. Harper wasn’t really using words to communicate and was having intense tantrums.
Sarah was encouraged to wait until her daughter turned two, to see if anything improved. When it didn’t, Sarah asked to be referred for Early Intervention.
LCBDD offers Early Intervention services in the homes of children, birth to age 3, with developmental delays, disabilities or medical conditions likely to result in delays. Services are provided at no cost to Licking County families.
Although she knew that she needed additional resources, Sarah struggled with the idea that Harper would be getting support from an organization with the word “disabilities” in the title.
But as she learned more about Early Intervention and got to know Karlie Wurm, LCBDD’s occupational therapist, she realized the program was more about coaching and meeting goals than what Harper wasn’t doing.
“Karlie provided me with the confidence … she just learns differently,” Sarah said.
As it became clear that Harper was struggling with sensory processing, Karlie introduced play-based strategies to help her, suggesting sensory toys like trampolines and boxes filled with beans and beads.
Since Harper responds well to routines, they created a picture schedule, so Harper could see what her day would look like.
Having Karlie come to their Pataskala home made a huge difference, Sarah said.
“She would come to Harper’s safe space and we would work together on ideas,” she said.
Harper has gone from using a handful of words to using short sentences to ask for the things she wants. Over time, she’s learned how to calm herself down and more of her personality is shining through.
Now that she knows more about Early Intervention, Sarah is hoping to spread the word so more parents reach out if they have questions about their child’s development.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “It’s been completely and totally life changing. We were able to figure out what we can do to make her the best person she can be and now she’s on the right track.”
While pediatricians can make referrals to Early Intervention, they aren’t the only ones. Anyone, including parents, can call 1-800-755-4769 or go to ohioearlyintervention.org to refer a child.
It’s important for parents and family members who have concerns to trust their instincts, Sarah said.
“I’m glad I listened to myself,” she said. “In eight months, our lives are completely different.”
For more information about Early Intervention in Licking County, go to lcountydd.org/early-childhood/.