Friday, August 8, 2014

Apple Tree Early Intervention Center

Today was my last day at work. I have been dreading this moment for quite sometime because I have been there for most of my adult life, 10 years, 7 months and 3 days to be exact. This past week I have been hugging the kids a little tighter and being present at every moment. There are so many things that I have learned from the parents as well as the children. I have enjoyed every moment...well, not when I was scratched in the face or slapped by an over stimulated child.

Top left was my classroom/office

For those of you who do not know I have been doing speech therapy for children with special needs. I started as an early interventionist in the cognition classroom. I would conduct group therapy for children under age 3. We would work on object permanence for the younger children, object recognition, problem solving and following directions. Soon after I was hired my boss wanted me to do in-home services. This meant I had to go to the homes of children who did not qualify for group therapy. I did this for almost 10 years. I had such a great time meeting new families and able to see how children performed in their natural environment versus a clinic. As I drive around Orange County I get flashbacks of the different children I serviced in the different neighborhoods.

Four years ago I completed my degree to be able to do speech therapy. This has been the most rewarding experience so far working at Apple Tree. I was moved to the speech room and never looked back. I have been given the opportunity to also see children over age 3 thanks to one of the parents who wanted to continue her services with Apple Tree after her son turned 3. Apple tree became a vendor through health insurances (Thank you Carola).

I would like to share a story of a child who has touched my heart and has been the perfect example that early intervention is key. Per parent approval I am able to share about her.

Our last day together
Sofia came to us when she was was about 18 months. There was a possible diagnosis of autism which later it was confirmed. Sofia started with Occupational therapy and I could hear her screaming for all of the session. Within a few weeks we received approval for Sofia to also receive speech therapy. Her screams did not stop after occupational therapy. She would scream and cry for 2 hours. One day I took out the barn and its animals. She became interested in a bobble head dog. Through her tears she would attempt to say "puppy".

Sofia is now 3 and has made incredible progress. Her parents have been such a great support in a all of her therapy needs and would hardly miss any appointments. I know that Sofia will continue to progress especially now that she will be starting preschool in a few days. I am looking forward to seeing her reach her fullest potential.

She will be deeply missed as well as the other children whom I have worked with. They will all have a special place in my heart. I have learned a lot about perseverance, love, compassion and resilience from the children and their families.

It's now time to move on and be ready for the journey before me in Guatemala.