Parents applaud the birth of three West Virginia | News, sports, work


Parker, left, with Sister Sloane, continues to make progress with Birth to Three therapists leading the way. (Photo Provided)

Three Wheeling families are happy to share their experiences with West Virginia Birth toThree. They each have inspiring stories that they hope will encourage others to consider Birth to Three’s services.

Larry and Annie’s Story

Valarie and Larry felt lucky to have twins Larry and Annie. They spent the months of their pregnancy reading parenting books and resources, but nothing could have prepared them for the new reality they faced.

“We quickly found ourselves overwhelmed navigating life with newborn twins,” Valarie said. “We faced twice as many feedings, never-ending diaper changes, waking up in the middle of the night as twice as many. On top of that, Annie had severe colic, crying non-stop for the first year of her life.

Their lives changed even more when the twins turned 5 months old and their pediatrician, who noted their milestones matched those of a 2-month-old, urged them to call Birth to Three for an evaluation. For the past two and a half years, the twins have benefited from everything Birth to Three has to offer.

From day one, the family has received great support and encouragement. A developmental specialist helped them manage colic, get out of the house, adjust to daycare, implement positive reinforcement, and improve sleep. The speech therapist recommended that Larry have a hearing test, which resulted in tubes in his ears. They learned that the speech delay was a

result of he does not hear well.

There was a physical therapist the first time Larry went up to ride a slide at the park. He encouraged the family as he took his first steps and climbed the steps. There was an occupational therapist for Annie’s first taste of food. He also helped them find solutions to Annie’s colic.

“We practiced the skills these providers taught us and my kids thrived,” Valarie said. “My children’s delays are not comparable to those of other children. Birth to Three set my kids up for success and made me a better mom. When I talk to new parents who are

concerned about their child’s development, I immediately suggest Birth to Three.

Annie and Larry were fine when they reached their third birthday. Now they are in kindergarten and they are fine.

“Overall, I think parents are more affected than children,” Valarie said. “I can’t imagine dealing with my kids’ delays without Birth to Three, but I also can’t imagine motherhood in general without it. The specialists and therapists have helped me become a better mother”.

She said her twins are now 5 and have a 2-year-old brother. She still uses the solutions and tactics she learned from Birth to Three.

Owen’s story

Amanda and Matthew noticed that their son, Owen, born five weeks early, was showing delays in his ability to speak, handle cutlery or sit in a chair. Owen also made minimal eye contact and had a short attention span.

“When I voiced my concerns to other first-time moms, they referred me to Birth to Three,” Amanda said.

Owen thrived within the first month of having Birth to Three surgery. Almost immediately, occupational therapy had him using utensils, sitting in his chair, making eye contact, and being

aware of his surroundings.

“We’re still working on his delay in speaking,” she said. “Go through the phases. She says a few words one week, then doesn’t use them the next.

According to Amanda, therapists mostly visit Owen in daycare, but home visits are more satisfying for her and her husband. From birth to Three therapists work at home or in whichever setting the child is most comfortable in.

“Our coordinator was a godsend,” he said. “The therapists calm us down and let us know that Owen is transitioning and doing great. This is just what a mom needs to hear.

Amanda said parents enrolled in the program shouldn’t be afraid to switch therapists.

“It has nothing to do with the therapist as a person, just the connection they have with your child,” she said. “We ended up going through a few occupational and speech therapists and decided we didn’t need a developmental therapist. Everything was handled very professionally.”

She said the switch isn’t a personality issue, but simply what worked best for Owen and their day-to-day schedules.

Parker’s story

Parker was two days old when the county foster agency placed him in the care of Stefan and Joelle, who later adopted him.

The baby was born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (NOS), a condition caused by in utero exposure to the drug. The diagnosis prompted foster agency specialists to suggest that Stefan and Joelle contact Birth to Three. He was just a month old at his first evaluation.

Parker receives physical and developmental therapy. Although he has reached all the developmental milestones, he has been delayed in reaching them along the way. He is currently working on jumping, a skill that is difficult for him due to decreased muscle tone, and on categorizing objects by shape and color, socialization and potty training.

“Parker still gets services,” Joelle said. “However, the impact on parents is profound. We were first-time parents trying to navigate the foster care system, a pandemic, and care for a newborn with NAS. We had no idea what we were doing, and having Birth to Three in our home has taught us more than any parenting book ever could.

“We are beyond grateful for the therapists who take care of him, because they also take care of mom and dad. I think all first-time parents should use Birth to Three,” Joelle said, “because they can learn so much more than a pediatrician, a book, or their parents could ever help them. The key to any child’s outcome is early intervention. Bonding, eating, sleeping, comforting, and their environment, including lights, sounds, music, and laughter, are critical components. They should use a professional to identify the stages of development.

She said Birth a Three specialists take care of the whole family. No referrals needed,

and the service is free.



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