Early Intervention has been there for Owen and his family.
When Owen Schmidt asks his mom for more cookies, his words are sweet in more ways than one.
For Owen, 2, communicating with his family about his wants and needs is a huge milestone that his parents and three brothers celebrate.
Owen, who is on the autism spectrum, was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. He’s had two surgeries and is expected to have several more throughout his life
Spending so much time in the hospital as a baby, Owen experienced global delays and his cleft caused difficulties with feeding and speech.
Children’s Hospital referred their family to the Licking County Board of Developmental Disabilities’ Early Intervention program when Owen was around 6 months old.
LCBDD offers Early Intervention (EI) 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.
LCBDD Developmental Specialist Diane Dodson began working with Owen’s parents, bringing toys and silverware to help him with his extreme mouth sensitivities and help him learn to eat, said his mother Anjelica Schmidt.
She helped him learn to crawl and supported him through learning to walk.
“She’s been there for everything,” Anjelica said.
Early Intervention is provided in the home, or other places where children are comfortable and learn best. This was a huge benefit for Owen, Anjelica said.
“He picked up on more of the stuff she was trying to teach because he was so comfortable in his own home,” she said.
Diane also was able to teach the Schmidts how to help their son using their toys and other household items — for example, they helped him strengthen his legs by bouncing and crawling on their couch cushions.
Now Owen and his parents are working with Diane to improve his communication so he can continue to tell his family what he wants. They are also focusing on helping him be more comfortable riding in the car.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic has stopped in-person visits, Diane and Anjelica have continued to do virtual visits, so she can continue to provide encouragement and ideas.
“I joke that she’s like Siri,” Anjelica said. “If I were to call or email her, she’d get back to me with information.”
Whether she’s asking about Owen or her other children, Diane is a wonderful resource when it comes to child development, Anjelica said.
“I really appreciate it. In my opinion, she’s gone above and beyond to help me and Owen and my entire family,” she said.
For more information about Early Intervention in Licking County, go to lcountydd.org/early-childhood/.