The following blog was written by the father of Anna, an Early Childhood Intervention graduate. Mr. Joshua David English eloquently shares the deep impact that ECI has had on his daughter, himself, and his entire family.
In late summer 2014, my youngest daughter, Anna T. English, was prenatally diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Down Syndrome is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. It affects all ethnicities, genders, and economic classes.
As my wife and I educated ourselves on our child’s diagnosis we quickly learned that while the syndrome has a wide range of symptoms, the key factor in mitigating most, if not all, is early intervention. Within weeks of Anna’s birth our pediatrician encouraged us to contact the local Early Childhood Intervention program office (Easter Seals Greater Houston) to request services. In Texas, the ECI program falls within the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and is available to children from birth to three years of age. Texas’ ECI program receives funding from several sources, including funds appropriated to the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS) and the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC), and funding outside of the General Appropriations Act (GAA). Without programs such as ECI, millions of disabled children in America would go without the necessary treatments.
Soon after contacting Easter Seals Greater Houston we were assigned an intervention specialist and over the course of my daughter’s first three years of life we have been privileged to receive services from dedicated and professional therapists. We were continually impressed with each therapist that worked with Anna, and with Anna’s progress. She quickly broke typical notions of what a child with her diagnosis was capable of and continually made progress that shocked even her mother and I. Without programs like ECI and the steadfast dedication of these professionals, my daughter would not be as high functioning as she is today. While there have been many therapists assigned to our case, we wish to highlight the below individuals.
Ms. Britni Smith, Early Intervention Specialist – Ms. Smith was the first to visit our home and helped establish goals for our barely one month old daughter to achieve. She was extremely professional, well versed in the types of services our daughter needed and has been with us throughout our eligibility in the program, ensuring the right services are provided at the right time. My wife and I cannot speak highly enough of Ms. Smith and are so thankful a person of her talents chose to serve children with disabilities.
Ms. Jeanie Martinez, DPT – Ms. Martinez is warm, passionate, and has aggressively pursued every goal we set for Anna. She pushed Anna hard when it comes to her physical therapy and that’s what I wanted. She has been a true partner in Anna’s development and will always be remembered for not only educating Anna, but my wife and I as well.
Ms. Elizabeth Clark, SLP – Ms. Clark came to us late but made a marked improvement in Anna’s development. She helped my wife and I locate a local mother’s day out program that has begun accepting children with special needs. Her dedication to Anna’s well being, development, and as a friend will always be remembered.
Ms. Morgan Cooke, SLP – Ms. Cooke came to us even later then Ms. Clark, but has already made a marked improvement in Anna’s speech development. She often provides us easy to use tips and tricks to help Anna between therapy sessions. This approach provides us the tools we need as parents to help Anna grow.
Lisa Rand, COTA –Ms. Rand has been a partner from the beginning. She always has Anna’s best interests at heart and brings thoughtful, and creative ideas to further Anna’s development. Ms. Rand is warm, genuinely caring and personable and we value her.
Anna greets each therapist with a smile and a wave and intently plays with each. They serve as more than medical service provider, they have become true friends and members of our extended family. As we age out of ECI and enter a new program I would be remiss if I did not attempt to impress upon you the importance of these type of programs. Other affected citizens, my extended family, and I strongly encourage you to continue funding programs like Early Childhood Intervention and to support legislation like the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Part C to ensure those with disabilities in our country have the voice they so deserve.
Enclosed you will find a picture of Anna on her first day of pre-school this year. So proud of herself for carrying her water bottle and too proud to let go of the art project she completed and would later give to her grandmother. I cannot thank the overall ECI program, Easter Seals Greater Houston, or the individual therapists enough for what they have done for my daughter, my family, and I.
With hope for the future of disabled children in America,
Mr. Joshua David English and Ms. Alice Kim Dang
Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program helps children ages birth to 36 months with disabilities and developmental delays achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development. Learn more here.