When Jessie found out she was carrying twins, she remembers the doctor advising her not to go home and start googling what giving birth to multiples would mean. “It’s not if you will encounter problems”, he warned, “it’s when.” Fortunately, Jessie was not the type to be easily distracted and influenced by what “could be”. She describes herself as more of a “laid back” mother, not in the care and love afforded her girls, but in the department of worry that can too often consume the minds of parents. Being that her girls had one another to bond with, play with and learn from, she didn’t search out many other opportunities for them to socialize in their younger years. That being the case, her understanding of the girls’ development in comparison to other kids was perhaps not entirely comprehensive.
A member of the Seacoast Mothers of Multiples group, Jessie learned of the Richie McFarland Children’s Center from the chatter among other moms and decided to self-refer her girls for an evaluation. In the end, she was happy to have paid attention to the nagging feeling that perhaps the girls could benefit from intervention services. Both girls presented with some speech delay and had notable difficulty making eye contact when being spoken to or addressing others.
Around the age of two, the twins started playing (aka-working) with Sue, an Early Childhood Special Educator, and eventually with Kristin, a speech and language pathologist. Over the course of the following twelve months, through purposeful play, the introduction of sign language and consistent modeling, the girls transformed into the confident, articulate and social children they both are today.
There was nothing magical about this transformation. It was a result of the careful evaluation of both girls’ individual needs, structured and meaningful play that challenged the girls to work on their areas of delay, the constant encouragement and guidance from both Sue and Kristin and the focus on family-centered therapy. Both Sue and Kristin introduced strategies for learning through play that Jessie and her husband, Jeff, would be able to carry-over at home throughout their daily activities and specific family lifestyle. Acknowledgement of what strategies will work best for each family is critical for parents and caregivers to capitalize on what is introduced during the therapy sessions from week to week.
Jessie developed a bond with Sue that continues today, well after her girls have been officially discharged from RMCC services. When asked how her experience with RMCC has affected her parenting, Jessie is quick to respond that her relationship with Sue has made her “more demanding” as a parent. “Sue would always remind me that I am the mother”, says Jessie, now a more empowered parent with specific knowledge of her girls needs and a more educated understanding of what she should be asking for when sitting through IEP meetings at school. “She went above and beyond”, says Jessie of Sue, “always, with everything”.
Interestingly enough, Jessie’s younger sister struggled with speech delays as a child. After sitting in on one of the therapy sessions with her granddaughters, Jessie’s mother realized how beneficial this type of early intervention would have been for her own daughter. We are certainly at a different place today with the knowledge of a child’s development and the understanding of the benefits of early intervention for children showing delays.
After speaking with Jessie, I made my way over to the girls to say good bye and they were reluctant to let me leave before having had the chance to introduce me to each and every one of their stuffed friends. I am struck by the vibrant, joyful and confident children they are and love how they make eye contact with me as they lure me into further conversation about the tea party that kept them busy while I spoke with their mom. As I politely excuse myself from the gathering of stuffies, I leave grateful that these two priceless little citizens got their best start at RMCC.
Written by Nicole Johnson, Development Coordinator at RMCC