“Bite, bite, bite, bite,” Jacob says sweetly and enthusiastically.
The Beals are taking this year’s holiday season in “small bites.” With a baby girl due to make her appearance in January and 26-month-old son Oliver, they are creating a calendar where each day they will do a little something special to celebrate and enjoy the season of giving as a family.
Oliver is Emily and Jacob’s first child, and he’s taught the family to slow down and take each day bit by bit. They had an inkling that Oliver was falling slightly behind at 12 months old, but by 18 months, his delays were more noticeable. His communication, play, and feeding skills were not where they should be.
According to Emily, “For a while, we thought he was just going at his own pace, but he just wasn’t catching up.”
That’s when their pediatrician referred Oliver to Rauch’s network of therapists. Their initial assessment helped the Beals learn a lot of things about their son. Soon, Occupational Therapist Jackie King and Developmental Therapist Sharon Clemons each began working with him weekly.
When he began therapy, Oliver wasn’t chewing at all, and he wouldn’t bite through food. “He’d finish a banana in two bites,” according to Emily. This has been a major area of focus in work with him. Now, he takes a cheese cracker from Jackie and enthusiastically bites through it while Jacob and Jackie cheer him on to “bite, bite, bite.” He finishes the whole pack, leaving behind only a small crumby mess you’d expect any child his age to generate.
The other challenges for Oliver, or “Ollie” as his parents lovingly refer to him, are speech and language development and maintaining a level of focus to enable him to complete adult-directed activities. Throughout the therapy session, Jackie, Emily, and Jacob encourage Ollie to verbalize in coordination with the activities he enthusiastically selects from Jackie’s “bag of tricks”, prompting him for colors, shapes, and names.
Of course, just like any two-year-old, Oliver is very active. He loves cars, books, playing outside, and his trampoline, which provides an important way for him to soothe himself and an outlet for his abundant energy. Oliver also loves to go to the park, take walks around the neighborhood, and play with his two dogs, who have taught him to chase squirrels. His ability to focus, however, has improved by leaps and bounds.
An important part of early intervention therapy is consistency in approach. His parents and his therapists use Ollie’s interests to engage him and build attention span and skills. Emily and Jacob are very patient and involved, which has contributed greatly to his success. Jacob says, “He has much better problem-solving skills – he’s persistent.”
With the support of people like you, Rauch has been able to change the lives of and the odds for children like Oliver for over 60 years. Children receiving early intervention therapy are much less likely to need special education services when they begin school and more likely to have greater independence throughout their lives. This makes a huge impact on their personal future and that of our entire Southern Indiana community.
Please donate today to help Rauch meet our holiday fundraising goal, and ensure that we can continue to help kids like Oliver take a big “bite” out of a happy, full, and productive life. Every gift makes a difference.