“It takes two flints to make a fire.” – Louisa May Alcott
Therapy is a family affair for bright two-and-a-half-year-old twin boys Elijah and Sebastian. These two spitfires have been receiving therapy at Innovative Services NW for over a year. Born a few weeks earlier than the average set of twins, they spent three weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. After receiving a referral, the boys started the Early Intervention program at Innovative.
Irais, the twins’ mother, grew concerned about Sebastian’s speech when he was around two years old. At that time, he was not using words to communicate, and faced difficulty imitating sounds and words. Irais began using sign language to provide Sebastian with a way to express simple wants and needs. Starting in December 2018, he began seeing Speech Language Pathologist Debra Jablonski in his home twice a month.
During a Speech Therapy session, Debra creates a classroom-like environment to not only support Sebastian, but to include his brother Elijah and their older sister. Sebastian has made exceptional progress, even answering his brother’s questions for him! Sebastian and Elijah are being raised in a bilingual household, and Debra is able to provide therapy in both English and Spanish to support growth in both at once. Now, Sebastian moves between languages effectively to use words to communicate.
One of the most significant changes in Sebastian, as noted by Irais, is a decrease in frustration and meltdowns. Because Sebastian was nonverbal, he used crying and screaming to attempt to communicate. He is now able to demonstrate independence by using words to express his wants, needs, thoughts, and emotions. Irais notes that his attitude has shifted to a fiery “I want to do it myself” as he continues to build self-reliance. His family can understand him, and now others can too!
The twins’ parents also noticed Elijah being developmentally behind from very early on. His posture and stability were very weak, in addition to having vision problems. Elijah began working with Physical Therapist Ali Walls for at-home Early Intervention, and has also come for in-clinic Physical Therapy with Physical Therapist Chelsey Hoglund for more frequent, focused work building his core strength and balance.
“When he began, he was very unstable, and mom and the therapist had to remain very close to him to ensure he didn’t fall while playing, walking up and down stairs, etc.,” noted Chelsey. Now during sessions, Elijah does everything; he walks across a balance beam, climbs a ladder to slide down a slide, plays hide-and-seek in the ball pit, and holds himself stable while swinging on a platform. During these exercises, Elijah may practice sitting on his knees or one knee at a time and sitting with his legs crossed over each other, all while building motor planning skills, balance, and general strength.
Elijah can now play in the large space with supervision only, and can walk up and down stairs with only stand-by assistance from his therapist. He is beginning to independently engage with playground equipment and use his whole body in age appropriate activities and moving around his environment. The goal is that Irais will no longer have to be concerned for his safety when it comes to his strength and stability. She says that Elijah may also begin receiving Occupational Therapy at Innovative to help continue establishing fine motor skills in everyday tasks like eating.
Through their joint therapy, Sebastian and Elijah are able to build developmental skills together with blazing tenacity and teamwork. Their skill levels balance each other and they can learn from each other by participating in activities together and observing one another. Because they are also receiving therapy in the home setting, this promotes learning in the natural environment, where strategies can be easily implemented by each other and their family.
Therapy from Innovative Services NW is just the kindling that fuels their already brightly burning fires. We can’t wait to see what trails Elijah and Sebastian blaze together!