The Roller Coaster That Is Having a Baby with “Special Needs.” Part 3

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The ups and downs of having a baby with physical delays and living in fear that those delays might affect developmental milestones in the future.

Part 3

By: Theresa Odgers

“Is he smiling? Is he tracking with his eyes? ”Landon was evaluated by the Early Intervention program when he was two months old. A team of wonderful women came into my home to assess Landon and determine if he was meeting the milestones expected at his age. He was assessed in his cognitive, adaptive, communication, social, and physical abilities. I was torn; part of me wanted him not to qualify for the Early Intervention program because that would mean I had a child with special needs. It would mean that my child was born broken. The other part of me wanted him to qualify for the program so we could start getting him the help he needed.

Landon passed four of the five categories. Since he could not turn his head in both directions, he failed the physical category and therefore, qualified for Physical Therapy in Early Intervention. Landon was now receiving services from the state of Pennsylvania. A physical therapist was assigned to Landon. I thought the physical therapist would continue stretching the neck muscles in his neck. I thought the physical therapist would show me exercises to work on with Landon to make his neck stronger. The physical therapist was going to do those things, but she also was going to do so much more.

Ann was one of the many heroes in Landon’s life. She walked through my door on a warm September day in 2012. She was an expert with babies, who were diagnosed with Torticollis. Up until the day I met her, I assumed torticollis only affected the neck muscle and once we stretched it out, all would be fine. Ann clearly explained to me that torticollis affects many parts of Landon’s body and can greatly affect his gross and fine motor skills. She showed me how Landon is only using his right side and was completely unaware of his left side. She showed me several exercises and stretches to help with his body awareness. I also gave him many massages to loosen up his muscles and help him become more aware of his left side.

Ann was very open with me. Whenever she had a concern about Landon’s progress, she had no problem sharing it with me. She noticed his tongue only going to the right side. She gave me strategies and ideas to help Landon use his tongue on both sides of his mouth. Ann also realized that Landon’s face looked different. His left eye was smaller than his right eye. His left ear was pushed farther back on his head than his right ear. His face was asymmetrical. She gently mentioned the possibility of Landon needing a helmet for his head. He had a flat spot, which caused his face to look strange. Tears streamed down my face at the thought of my three month baby having to wear a helmet. The idea of my baby’s head being covered in hard plastic was hard to even imagine. People would stare. People would judge.

Ann knew what was best for Landon and pushed me into calling an Orthotist. An Orthotist is a professional who can diagnose if a child has a flat spot and qualifies for a helmet.  Allison took my call and scheduled an appointment for the next day. I was unaware of what was to come with a helmet, but I was becoming more and more determined to continue to fix Landon the best way I could.

I would not let fear get in the way of helping him. I still felt nervous and overwhelmed, but I was getting stronger.

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