Early Intervention: A “Window of Opportunity” for Children

Brenda Sue Wright knows what it feels like to worry about her children. Of course all loving parents stress over their kids, but when your quadruplets are born 13 weeks early, the complications of premature birth for not just one, but FOUR children, and the risk of developmental delays leading to long-term disability can really take a toll on a parent. Below is a testimonial, written by Brenda Sue Wright, about her experience with her children and the helpful doctors at her hospital and the UCP-OC Early Intervention program.

“On May 4, 2007, I gave birth to quadruplet’s at 27 weeks gestation; Cassandra, Alexis, Lucas and Kenkaid. They were immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and put on ventilators to assist with their breathing. My children were born 13 weeks early! During those 13 weeks their lungs develop, they build body fat which helps their bodies regulate temperature, their brains create millions of neurons, and their muscles mature. My children did not get the 13 weeks that they needed for these important developments.

My children were born so early that their only chance for a normal life or life at all was early intervention. This Early Intervention would start with me as their mother then with the doctors and nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and finally to the amazing staff at United Cerebral Palsy.

United Cerebral Palsy became involved in my children’s life when they were about 4 months old and had been home for approximately a month. At this point, I had lost Kenkaid to an infection, Cassandra had received heart surgery to help close her PDA vein, Lucas had a heart murmur, and Alexis had stopped breathing on several occasions. All were going to have a hard time catching up with normal children that had been born closer to their due date. All three showed signs of developmental and physical delays. I wanted to make sure that I gave my children every opportunity possible to have some type of regular life, and UCP offered a chance to make a difference with their Early Intervention program.

At the time that I met the staff at UCP who would be working to help my children not only survive, but be the best they could be. I was fairly certain that my children were going to have serious delays. Pati Skinner and her co-workers at UCP started working with my children using infant stimulation, occupational, and physical therapy. Pati also instructed me on the progress that my children were making and the taught me what I could do to help it along. Pati and UCP were there when my daughter Alexis stopped eating and walked me through the process to get help with her eating. As time went on there were moments when I had real concerns that Alexis might be autistic or have some other type of developmental delay. Cassandra and Lucas started crawling a couple of months before Alexis. She had taken so long to smile and laugh, I was sure we were never going to be able to get her to crawl let alone walk. Pati and UCP did… all of a sudden my Alexis started crawling; then the next day (truly next day) she was walking. To me, this is a miracle.

Today, Cassandra, Lucas and Alexis have caught up developmentally and physically. It is amazing to see them excel in different activities. Cassandra is athletic and motherly, Alexis has the amazing memory and thinks she is the boss, Lucas is an adventurous boy who loves the world; all are healthy and happy. Without the Early Intervention Program that they received from UCP… THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. I have three healthy, happy, wacky and crazy two-year-olds that are strong both mind and body; due to the love and support of Pati and the staff at UCP. My hope for my children when my journey began with UCP was that they would be able to walk someday, perhaps even talk.

Today, I hope that they go after their dreams whatever they may be; there is nothing holding them back. Thank you Pati and UCP for helping my children be all they can be. I know that without your Early Intervention program I would be looking at three very different children.”

Brenda’s experience is remarkable, but she is certainly not the only one to have found her children in need of Early Intervention. A window of opportunity exists during the early years where these children, if properly cared for through programs like this, have the greatest hope of reaching their full potential. UCP-OC’s Early Intervention program has helped hundreds of children reach developmental milestones over the years, and often these children don’t require any further specialized education once they leave the program. In a recent assessment, a staggering 94% of children in UCP-OC’s Early Intervention program demonstrated clear progress in 3 out of 5 developmental areas. This is great news for the parents, great news for the children, and it eases the burden on social programs designed to help people in need of specialized care for years to come. Unfortunately, 56% of the children in UCP-OC’s Early Intervention will no longer qualify for these services as of the beginning of October. California’s recent budget crisis has forced the state to change eligibility requirements for infants and toddlers receiving Early Intervention, leaving dozens of families without a way to address their children’s developmental delays. This is truly unfortunate, as it increases the possibility that these children may require longer-term assistance, weighing heavily not only on the State’s budget in future years, but on the well-being of the families that care for them and the children themselves. How You Can Help UCP-OC has the staff, the expertise and the will to help these kids, but as of October 1 we will find ourselves short on funding. Please consider making a donation so that we may continue providing Early Intervention to those that it would help the most.

Published by Life Without Limits: UCP of Orange County

The mission of UCP of Orange County is to help children with disabilities reach their full potential and improve the quality of life for their families.

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