A Letter to Dimock From the McClendon Family
Before we entered the Dimock Early Intervention program, our family was overwhelmed with concern, without any answers, and unsure of the health of our child. After a year in the program, we can’t be more appreciative of your team and the tireless work you do each day.
WHAT BROUGHT US TO DIMOCK EARLY INTERVENTION
Our second born came into this world with a powerful force. From day one we knew he was someone who would forge his own path. The doctors thought he was making his milestones, but after a few weeks at home our guts were telling us something wasn’t quite right. It was little things, like being very fussy and crying for hours at night. Then, his head circumference was smaller than average. Next, he was underweight and refused to eat. Being around loud noises, having people visit our home or touch his hands would set him on a crying spell that I couldn’t stop. Finally, on his first birthday we needed to ask our family and friends to whisper happy birthday because singing it was making him scream.
At that point, we didn’t know what was happening to our child, but it was agonizing to see him in such distress. As his mother, I felt helpless. We talked to our pediatrician and she connected us with the Dimock Early Intervention program for an evaluation.
We were reluctant to do the evaluation because we were inviting five strangers into our home to judge our child and we were fearful of what they might see. As a parent you want to know what is wrong with your child, but at the same time you dread hearing a bad diagnosis. The day of the evaluation we were nervous. We were relieved to see how caring and patient each staff person was and how their questions were thoughtful and inquisitive without being imposing. Our son qualified for six months of weekly in-home visits, followed by weekly groups at Dimock.
Casara is our clinician. After just a few weeks of working with her, we noticed such a change in our son’s social skills. He had gone from crying when anyone outside our immediate family approached him to laughing with Casara, allowing her to touch his hand, and slowly moving off my lap with each visit until he was sitting in her lap. It was her calm demeanor, her soft but deliberate words, and her patience that gained his trust. She gave him a voice when he couldn’t yet speak by teaching him to sign his needs. Casara is so kind and her spirit brought out something I had never seen in my son before – empathy for someone besides mommy, daddy and brother.
When you have so many difficult days you cherish those moments when you see your child smile and filled with excitement. That’s what Casara brought to our son: happiness.
Not only did our son begin to trust Casara, we began to trust her, too, and she became a guiding light for us. No one else was there at night when he cried for hours inconsolably or when we went to a family function and had to stay in the bathroom for 60 minutes because he was overstimulated by the noises, people, and new environment. But every week, it was such a relief to know we could count on being able to confide in Casara and that she would understand. She not only listened, but she gave us the gift of understanding our child and what might have been happening within him.
We created a plan together, set goals and each week talked about how he was doing and what we can do to help him meet his goals. Having that foundation helped us see the positive changes in him, even if they were small differences from the week before. Casara explained how we could help him the next time he battled a challenge. Even if she didn’t have an answer, she would suggest other avenues of help, or ask if she could bring in another colleague. We relied on her kindness, care, and understanding to get through those rough days.
This is not just a job to Casara. Watching her with my son I can feel how she genuinely cares for his wellbeing. I will forever be grateful to her for giving us those rays of sunshine in the midst of the storm. She has a special gift and I don’t think we would have been able to survive his second year without her. She brought us comfort and stability in a challenging stage in his development.
WEEKLY PLAY GROUP
Our son’s social skills improved even further after starting the weekly play group. Having a place where he could see his clinician every week outside of our home showed him that the world outside was ok. He gained many social skills just by observing the behavior of other children in the group and relating to the other clinicians he met. The environment is very much like a daycare or preschool, which can help him move into that environment when the time comes.
Also, the rainbow dance therapy was such a great way to pull together all the teachings we had been practicing at home. In the first sessions of rainbow dance I had to move his body along through the movements. I have since watched him get to the point now where he is following Casara without my help. He’s singing the words to each song loudly, focusing on her movements and mirroring them with ease. And he’s able to transition from song to song without issue.
As a mom, I gained a support system with the other moms in the group. We cried, laughed, and vented in frustration, but we did it together. Up until this point, we felt alone in our parent struggles. Going to the weekly group made us realize that there were others like us…and we could survive our experiences.
DIMOCK EARLY INTERVENTION
Being a part of a comprehensive program has been invaluable to our family. And the coordination offered, event providing transportation to the groups, made participating easier. I would not have known how to navigate and coordinate all of the services that our son needs, and Dimock Early Intervention provides.
I don’t know where our family would be without this program. We still have challenging days, but they are becoming few and far between. And when they do occur, we have tools to help us make it through. Our son is making amazing strides in just one year of attending the program. We’ve seen growth in him that we weren’t sure would have ever been possible.
Now, we feel confident that with the right kind of continued help and care, our son has a bright future ahead of him. He will be able to better handle the world around him. We are only one family, but I feel like I can speak for many others who have come into contact with your team. We are beyond grateful that this program exists and for the care we all have received.