|Via Early Intervention
Gabriel – Physical Therapy
On May 4, my precious angel, Gabriel, was born. Everything was fine at first. However, we began to notice that Gabriel was not thriving like a child his age should. His doctors became worried about weight loss and lack of muscle control but assured me everything would be fine. They recommended seeing a neurologist and starting an early intervention program to get him on track.
We started early intervention right away with Via of the Lehigh Valley. He really enjoyed working with his physical therapist, Maria and we felt everything was looking better for him.
Then in September, Gabriel was rushed to the hospital after suffering a seizure. As my family and I crowded into the small emergency room, the doctor came in and told us my baby boy has Lissencephaly, a rare form of severe mental retardation.
We came home and kept working with Maria every week. Early intervention with Via of the Lehigh Valley means a great deal to our family. They give us hope for Gabriel when we don’t think we can go any further and don’t know where to turn next. Maria was always there for me, even when I thought no one else could understand what I was going through.
Maria helps us find ways to simplify our lives and learn how to work with Gabriel in everyday activities as simple as going to the grocery store or as complex as going away for vacation. Without Via, Gabriel would not be where he is today developmentally. He is doing more than doctors ever though he would and we have Via Early Intervention and Maria to thank for it.
Kamrin & Leah – Occupational Therapy & Sibshops
Prior to her birth in March, Kamrin was diagnosed with Down syndrome and with duodenal atresia, a full blockage of the small intestine that prevented passage of food from the stomach through the digestive track. After many trips to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and surgery to fix the blockage and put in a feeding tube, we brought our little girl home just two weeks after she was born.
When Kamrin was about six weeks old, we started working with Kathy, our occupational therapist from Via’s Early Intervention program. Kathy was very supportive of my decision to nurse Kamrin. With her guidance and input from our pediatrician, we were able to wean Kamrin completely off of the feeding tube in less than five months. Some days, I felt like we were taking two steps back for every step forward, but eventually, we were no longer using the tube for any feedings.
Today, Kamrin loves to eat and eats a wide variety of table foods. There are very few things she will not eat. When Kathy would arrive for an OT session, Kamrin loved to search through Kathy’s duffel bag for food, often ignoring the toys. When she began talking, she would often greet Kathy with “eat”. Kathy would laugh and say, “My name is not eat, it’s Kathy”. Kamrin’s first words and signs were mostly related to eating.
Kamrin’s older sister, Leah, 5 ½ years old when Kamrin was born. Leah loves having a sister. When I was pregnant with Kamrin, Leah would tell us that she didn’t care if the baby was a boy or girl; but she was still going to call it a girl. She loved to sit in on the therapy sessions and watch, learn, and help. The therapists were always impressed with how great Leah is with her sister. Even though she is great with Kamrin, I know there are times when she may feel left out or that a disproportionate amount of our attention and time is focused on Kamrin.
After Kamrin was born, I read a book that was a collection of essays written by kids who have a sibling with a disability. It gave me a lot of insight into what it is like for the siblings. In that book, a program called Sibshops was mentioned. Sibshops is a program for kids who have a sibling with a disability. It gives them an opportunity to meet and interact with other kids in a similar situation.
I thought it sounded like a great program and one that Leah would like and could benefit from. I started asking Kamrin’s therapists if there was anything similar around here. A little over a year ago, Kathy mentioned that VIA was starting a Sibshop program. Leah attended the first six-month session (they meet once a month) and loved it. Her favorite part is “Dear Aunt Blabby;” a letter from a “sibling” is read and the kids talk about and offer suggestions or solutions to their problem.
Zachariah – Speech Therapy
Zachariah was born seven weeks premature and spent one month in the NICU before being discharged home. It became apparent by about seven months, that Zachariah was delayed in development and required occupational therapy. Upon completion of occupational therapy, Zachariah remained delayed in his ability to verbally communicate with us and it was determined that he was in need of speech therapy to address.
Zachariah was almost two years old when he started receiving speech therapy through Via. At that time, he was barely saying words and was unable to effectively express his wants and needs. His pointing and whining, crying and grunting to get his needs met was frustrating to him and to us.
The first month to two months he received speech therapy, Zachariah made a bit of progress with his speech development, but then he took off. He began putting two words together, then three and by the time he was discharged, after seven months, he was speaking in complete sentences and using "please" and "thank you" consistently.
Now he is able to carry on simple conversations with us as to what he is doing, what he wants and what he ate at mealtimes. Zachariah really enjoys his ability to speak and says some of the funniest things we have ever heard! Working with Via was a great experience for Zachariah and for our family. We are thankful that he was able to receive speech therapy at such a young age and that he progressed so quickly while receiving services. Thank you Via!
Roman – Physical and Occupational Therapy
We are very appreciative of the dedication that Via has poured into working with our son Roman. Truthfully, when Via arrived in Roman’s life, there was very little our 4-month old brain injured son could accomplish. His days were spent lying on his back either having seizures or recovering from the seizure’s nasty effects. We don’t know where Roman would be today if Via didn’t come into our home at that crucial time.
Our physical therapist from Via, Mary Beth, worked endless sessions with Roman. Our goal for Roman was for him be able to walk one day, something his doctors couldn’t promise us. In a 3 year period, Mary Beth took him from sitting, to crawling, to standing and finally to walking.
“Early intervention has been shown to result in the child needing fewer special education and other habilitative services later in life."
Source: U.S. Department of Education
I remember asking her in the early sitting stages if she could tell me if Roman was going to be able to ever walk. Without hesitation, she said yes! She explained that children who can do these early tasks can usually go on to accomplish walking. What hope this gave us. Because she believed, we now believed.
Kathy, our Via occupational therapist, worked equally hard with Roman at his therapies. Since birth, Roman was never able to open his fists. Kathy worked endlessly trying to get Roman to keep his hands open. She finally was able to get his fists open, so he was able to hold his toys.
We also remember a time when Roman had one of his longest, most intense seizures he has ever had. Kathy was there during that time. She comforted Roman, and reassured me that everything was going to be fine. What she said certainly prevented me from going nuts. Thank you Kathy. You were right, everything turned out fine.
Roman is now 5 years old, finishing up his 2nd year of pre-school. He has been seizure free for 4 years, and is doing better than doctors every thought he would. Some said he would never walk……he is now running and jumping.
He is also able to hit a baseball off a tee, use pencils and crayons, turn pages in his own books, feed himself, and play several sports and musical instruments. Thank you VIA for all that you have done. All of these accomplishments were made possible because of the care and therapy you provided for our son Roman.
Amy and Damon
Gracie - Speech Therapy
Two-year old Gracie and her older brother’s arguing seemed to be just a part of family life.
Actually, Gracie was having extreme difficulties communicating and was frustrated in her
interactions with those who love her most.
After an evaluation by Via’s Early Intervention program, it was discovered that Gracie’s
speech development was slower than that of most children her age. This discovery helped
the family understand that Gracie’s behavior - which often included biting and pushing - were a result of her frustration of not being able to communicate her feelings using speech.
Via began working with Gracie and her family on a weekly basis. Gracie’s mother says the
change has been dramatic since Via started working with her. Gracie’s speech has
improved and she has learned how to tell her family what she needs and wants without
frustration. Gracie’s mother enjoys watching her learn through play and the steps Gracie has made in communicating with her
family have made all the difference her children’s relationship.
Jacob – Occupational Therapy
A Via occupational therapist, Kathy, worked with a little boy, Jacob, and his family for over two
years. Kathy provided in-home early intervention services before he transitioned out of Early
Intervention program and began services with his school district’s special education Intermediate
At the family’s last early intervention session, Jacob’s mother showed Kathy his memory book.
Jacob’s book features a special section called “Thank You, Ms. Kathy” that includes a picture of
Mom, Dad, Jacob and his two siblings and this heartfelt note:
Dear Ms. Kathy,
We greatly appreciate all you have done in your work with Jacob. It is obvious that his
improvements are a direct correlation to your hard work with him. We truly believe that Jacob would not be as advanced in his developmental milestones as he is now if it were not for your consistent hard work, patience, kindness and love for your work and for the children you serve.
We feel that you have gone beyond the expectations that are required of you to perform for Jacob’s needs. He has made such excellent progress in not only the occupational therapy area but other areas such as social expression, development of individual interests, personality development, expression of wants, needs and feelings, etc.
These advancements have helped prepare him for his acceptance into pre-school, prior to becoming three years old. You go above and beyond in your work with children - it is obvious that you love your work and are well skilled at what you do. Thank you for all of your efforts and know that we will miss you and the joy you have brought to Jacob on a weekly basis.
Our deepest thanks,
For more information, contact:
Marianne Bear, Vice President of Admissions & Quality Control
firstname.lastname@example.org | 610-317-8000 x452