Zoya is a small-but-mighty nine-month-old with a smile that melts your heart who was born underweight and with Down syndrome. Mum Danielle knew her baby needed some extra help in her first months of life but finding this was difficult for the country based family.
Luckily Zoya was able to join Ability Centre’s early intervention therapy program which has made a huge difference to her early development.
According to physiotherapist Jessica, the early months can be very confronting for new parents when their baby has a disability. “The families I see are very scared, they are stressed and worried about their children because they’ve noticed that they’re not developing in the way that they should be.
“When I first met Zoya, she was very underweight and being fed by a nasal gastric tube and couldn’t suck or swallow very well. Understandably, her mum Danielle was a bit lost and confused about how to promote Zoya’s development.”
Jessica visits Zoya’s home to assess and treat her. That’s a crucial aspect of Ability Centre’s service for babies and very young children. In home support makes it easier for parents to ensure their child doesn’t miss out on crucial help at the most important time for their development.
Jessica explains: “Children’s brains before the age of six, but particularly in those first two years of life, have an amazing amount of plasticity. That’s the time when they have an extraordinary ability to learn and to retrain new pathways. If we miss those opportunities, especially when a baby should be learning to crawl and move independently, they can have serious development delays that are hard to fix later.”
Danielle says her baby has come a long way since Jessica came into their lives, “She was a very floppy baby but now she’s getting stronger from all the physio that she’s been getting. I’ve been working on helping her to roll, which she can do now. We’re trying to strengthen her stomach and her neck so she can get up by herself and into a crawling position. I just wouldn’t have known where to start without Jessica. ”
Jessica is delighted with Zoya’s progress. “I get emails and little videos from Danielle showing me how far Zoya has come. Her confidence in supporting her child has really increased – it’s so rewarding to see that.”
That’s the sort of life-changing difference early intervention services can make.