Peek-a-boo is an endearing reciprocal game played between mom and baby. You expect your child to engage and mirror your actions. But what if they don’t? What if they don’t even know you’re there?
Lack of engagement might be a sign that your child is developmentally delayed. There are other markers too, a baby who’s fussy when feeding or isn’t rolling over or pushing up with both arms and legs. Some children have an aversion to certain textures, and others start to talk and then stop abruptly.
If you suspect that your newborn is struggling, a visit to the doctor or hospital will be your next step. But if you live in Lewis County, there are other options for infant health screenings.
The In-Tot Early Intervention Program, part of the non-profit, Reliable Enterprises, offers developmental screenings, evaluations and therapy services to parents of developmentally delayed children from birth to three years.
“A parent doesn’t have to have a doctor’s referral to call us for a free developmental screening,” says In-Tot Developmental Center manager and resident speech pathologist, Britney Hastings.
Many doctors take a “wait and see approach” with babies. “If the doctor doesn’t refer you and you have concerns about your child’s development under the age of three, call us and we can get started immediately,” says Britney.
The Parent Support Network connects families to resources like Social Security, the Developmental Disabilities Administration and Respite Care. Parent to Parent provides social opportunities for parents to share their experiences and offer mutual support.
Sara Palm-Sons, manager of Parent to Parent and the Family Support Network, knows how important parental support can be. “I was part of a family that came through the In-Tot program. My daughter had a brain injury at 18 months. We were not connected to any services locally.” The family lived in Morton at the time.
In-Tot offers services to all of Lewis County. “We do a combination of clinic and in-home visits,” says Britney Hastings. “If you can’t get to Centralia, the therapists will come to you.”
This is important because the world turns on its head the moment you realize your child has special needs.
“When we left the hospital, we were fearful about what to do next,” says Sara.
Through the In-Tot program Sara’s daughter received all the therapy and vision services she needed, right at home. The programs offered Sara support, too. “As a parent going through this isolating experience, it was a big deal to connect with other parents who understood what I was going through.”
Later, Sara became a peer mentor for parents with delayed children. Eventually, she took on the role of program manager for Parent to Parent and the Family Support Network.
“If you have a child with a disability and you have questions…or you just need to talk to someone who understands, we can help.”
In-Tot has offered services to county residents for 30 years and yet many people still don’t know about them. “We’re always trying to reach out to doctor’s offices and hospitals to spread word,” says Sara. “We’re trying to get the word out to daycare providers and school district parents, too.”
Melody Porter is Outreach Coordinator for the In-Tot Development Center. “You know the red flags for your child,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to refer your child for screening. Don’t wait, the earlier the better.”
During my interview, all three women – Britney, Sara and Melody – repeated these few words to me: “You are the best advocate for your child.”
A parent knows when there’s something wrong with their baby. No one needs to tell them. But who will listen?
At the In-Tot Developmental Center, they will.
You can learn more about In-Tot Developmental Center online, give them a call at 360-736-4359. They are located at 701 Allen Way in Centralia.