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Child development help moves online

Butler County Infant/Toddler Services

Reprinted from the Butler County Times Gazette, By Times Gazette Staff

Augusta—When COVID-19 hit in March, followed shortly by stay-at-home orders, little Natalie Lind’s need for help to develop was in full swing.  Born six weeks premature, she had found a way to walk just before Christmas after months of work with the help of her service workers.

“Natalie is inquisitive and always thinking,” said Angela Pulaski, a physical therapist with Rainbows United.  “Her parents are so involved in her therapy and that really helps with her progress.” 

She now blows kisses and raspberries, and points more as she communicates.

The need for developmental help for children has not gone away during the pandemic-children under the age of three continue to receive early intervention services though Rainbows United’s Infant/Toddler Services of Butler County.

Currently, Rainbows’ professional therapists are working remotely using tele-therapy to; keep staff, children, and families safe.

“It’s important to keep the therapies going and working remotely using tele-therapy allows us to evaluate infants and toddlers as well as deliver early intervention services like speech and physical therapy,” said Susan Harsh, Butler County Infant/Toddler Services Coordinator.

All staff were moved home with technology in March and have been continuing services. The program also evaluates and accepts new children.

“Even though our office is empty, services have and will continue,” said Harsh.  “It’s important to get children engaged in therapy services as soon as a concern is identified. This helps the child make progress quickly as they continue to grow and learn.”

A surprising advantage to the COVID-19 changes, is that Natalie’s older brother, Isaiah (5), is home.  Natalie tries to keep up wither brother, so having him home all day now with her is helping her see more behaviors she wants to imitate.  Being closer in size, they play and learn well together, even when learning different things.

Natalie’s parents, Rebekah and Kurt Lind found out about Rainbow’s services when she was born.  “She needed strength in her core and legs to stand and walk,” said Rebekah.

Rainbows’ Physical Therapist Angela Pulaski goes to the family’s home in Augusta and works with Natalie and her family. “She made significant progress in the first 3-4 months they worked together,” said Angela.

Natalie started walking 3 days after Christmas, now that she is more independently mobile, she is showing great.  She has started running and making animal sounds.  She has more works and Angela has given us invaluable tools to keep her growing and learning at a steady pace.

When the Stay-At Home Order was put in place the family continued services through tele-therapy.

“This has been an interesting transition,” said Rebekah.  “We are so glad we are able to continue receiving services through tele-therapy.”  The family uses a cell phone to Skype with Angela and they find the therapy sessions run a little shorter.  “It is helpful to talk about the progress Natalie is making and what we can work on to help her continue making progress to hit her milestones over the phone with Angela, although it is harder to share all the progress that Natalie is making.”

“If we had stopped fully due to COVID-19, I don’t think we would have made as much progress as we have,” said Rebekah.

Kurt works 2nd shift, so is often home for Angela’s visits with Natalie and Rebekah.  His job is essential, so he is at home close to the same amount.  “I enjoy being home when Angela comes, she has so many new ideas and at one point it all clicked with Natalie,” said Kurt. “She’s started crawling and getting stronger ever since.  It was like a switch got turned on for her and she is off and running with her brother.”

Anyone with a concern regarding their young child’s development is encouraged to call 316.320.1342 to request an evaluation.  How a child plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves offers important clues about his or her development.  Developmental Milestones set by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can help families gage how their child is meeting developmental milestones for their age.  When there is a concern, it’s time to connect with early intervention.

Any parent or caregiver who has a concern regarding their young child’s development can call 316.320.1342 for a free evaluation.  When a child qualifies for any of the 17 mandated services they are provided at no cost to the family.

Developmental Milestones

At 3 months, Does Your Child: Turn head towards bright colors and lights, follow moving object with eyes, recognize bottle or breast, respond to loud sounds, grasp rattles or hair, wiggle and kick with legs and arms, lift head and chest while on stomach, smile, make cooing sounds?

At 6 months, Does Your Child: Turn towards source of normal sound, reach for toys and pick them up, roll over (both ways), move toys from one hand to the other, play with toes, help hold bottle during feeding, know familiar faces, babble, sit with minimum support?

At 12 months, Does Your Child: Pull self to a standing position, crawl on hands and knees, drink from cup, enjoy peek-a-boo and patty cake, wave bye-bye, put toys into containers, say 1-2 words, walk around furniture?

At 18 months, Does Your Child: Like to pull, push, and dump things, follow simple directions, pull off shoes, socks, and mittens, like to look at pictures, feed self some, use 8-10 words that are understood, walk without help, step off low objects and keep balance, stack 2-3 blocks, turn 2 or 3 pages at a time?

At 2 years, Does Your Child: Use 2-3 word sentences, say names of toys, recognize familiar pictures, feed self with spoon, play alone and independently, turn one page at a time, like to imitate parents, identify hair, eyes, ears, and nose by pointing, build a tower of 6 blocks, show affection, run well?

At 3 years, Does Your Child: Walk up steps alternating feet, ride a tricycle, dress with supervision, open door, play with other children, repeat simple rhymes, use 3-5 word sentences, name at least one color correctly, use toilet, take turns, hop on one foot, feed self with some spilling, wash and dry hands, throw a ball over head, avoid some dangers such as hot, follow one-step directions, identify big and small, verbalize toilet needs, know first and last name?

At 4 years, Does Your Child: Serve self food, brush teeth with help, put on simple clothes, copy lines, circles, and draw face, catch a bounced ball, swing unaided, point and name objects in books, move around immediate neighborhood, follow two- and three- step familiar directions, sort by shape and color, enjoy playing dress-up, share toys while playing with others, combine two or more sentences, ask “wh” questions, tell simple stories, know age and gender, point to 6 basic colors, know last name?

At 5 years, Does Your Child: Use fork and knife well, wash and dry face and brush teeth unaided, dress and undress unaided, draw simple figures, catch a tossed ball, jump over low objects, know simple songs or stories, cross the street safely, follow three- step unfamiliar instructions, name colors and numbers, engage in complex pretend play, initiate play and play with others, resolve conflicts with peers, can be understood by strangers, use past and future tense in complex sentences, answer “wh” questions, enjoy riddles and jokes, know phone number and address, walk backward heel-toe, run on tiptoe, print a few capital letters, recognize own printed name, lace shoes.