When I reflect on the start of our journey in the Special Needs world following the birth of our baby girl with Down syndrome, I think of our Early Intervention team at the Arc Alliance (then MARC!). I am so grateful for the foundation they helped me establish.
Within a month of her birth, a team from The Arc Alliance had come to evaluate Brianna and see how they could help. I remember in addition to feeling overwhelmed by the diagnosis, an odd feeling about having these “strangers” ~ social worker, and speech, occupational and physical therapists~ in my home on a regular basis. Within a very short time, these strangers became friends and Brianna and I looked forward to their visits.
The team helped me understand the appropriate milestones of development for any child and how Brianna’s diagnosis might impact these skill sets. I had never given this a thought with my boys. My boys just did it.
Our team helped me understand the Early Intervention process. They taught me that I was an important member of her team and her number one teacher and how to advocate for my daughter when it was challenging. They helped me find my voice…a strong and confident voice to request the services Brianna needed. They prepared me for the transition into the 3-5 year old program when the process and your entire team changes.
They helped Brianna AND supported our family as a whole. My sons participated in sibling group and were given an outlet to share any concerns about having a sibling with special needs. Our social worker always checked on each of us to make sure we were coping and propping us up when things were tough.
The Arc Alliance provided a playgroup for children with Down syndrome. This playgroup was an outlet for my daughter to learn to play. And, it introduced me to a wonderful network of other mothers that served as a support system. Our children continue till this day as friends and us Moms and Dads as a supportive community.
Today, when Brianna does something amazing or reaches another milestone (not always a big thing…it could be a very small thing), my first thought is to share it with our EI team from The Arc Alliance. They relish in her successes as well. I owe the team a debt of gratitude for establishing a strong foundation for our daughter and family. Brianna currently attends Audubon Elementary and participates in a general education classroom with most of her learning supports pushed in. I say thank you to my Arc family for helping us get here!