Remy was our third baby. A bit of a surprise but she officially completed our family. And while the first year of her life is still a bit of a blur, I remember how observant she was and interested in the things her older siblings were doing too. She crawled at 6 months, walked on her first birthday and had no problem trying all the food. It seemed like Remy was hitting all of those baby “milestones” around the typical age the pediatrician recommended. So it wasn’t until her two year well-check visit when the doctor was running down the list and asked me how many words she was saying, I realized that her speech was definitely more delayed than her siblings at this age. My pediatrician was very reassuring but suggested we connect with First Steps for an official assessment.
Getting Started with First Steps
Within the next few months, she was assessed and qualified for both speech and occupational therapies. Since I was a teacher at that time, both of her First Steps therapists would visit her daycare once a week to provide her with her services. Remy was also having a hard time at her daycare, throwing fits and struggling to communicate with her teachers. As a parent it broke me, but I was grateful for her therapists because I knew they were working on her ability to not only communicate but also giving her strategies to help regulate her outbursts. After each weekly session, the individual therapist would give me a summary as to what they worked on as well as share notes on her progress.
After that school year, I decided to leave the classroom and stay home. First Steps offers services to your child until they are 3, so we were able to move Remy’s sessions to our home. It was the first time I was able to sit in and observe her time with the therapists. They were patient with her yet persistent and encouraging. The activities were fun and engaging but meaningful. It was evident they loved Remy and knew what she enjoyed, so her therapy session was geared towards helping her meet her IEP goals with interests in mind.
So, what exactly is First Steps?
First Steps is Indiana’s early intervention program that partners with Hoosier families whose young children are experiencing developmental delays and connects them with services that support their child’s development. The program brings families together with a local network of professionals from education, health and social service agencies from all 92 counties in Indiana. It is available to all Hoosier families regardless of income level and serves children from birth until their third birthday. First Steps helps parents learn what developmental milestones to look for in children and what to do if they have concerns. The program provides families with a foundation to advocate for their infants and toddlers, so they grow and flourish to their highest potential.
Transitioning Out of First Steps
When Remy turned 3, she transitioned out of First Steps and into the developmental preschool in the school district we live in. The process was seamless and First Steps helped with the transitional process. I was able to get personal observations from both her speech therapist and her occupational therapist to take with me to her first case conference. Now, at 6.5, Remy continues to be identified as a child with a developmental delay. She is academically thriving in her Kindergarten class and continues to work hard to meet her IEP goals for behavior. Have there been a few hiccups? Of course, the transition to full day school is hard for any child – but she continues to make great strides to meeting her end of year goals.
As a former teacher who has led families through the IEP process, I wasn’t sure how it would be as I went through it with my own family. But my only regret is not reaching out to First Steps sooner. There are not enough words of gratitude that I can share for the therapists that changed my sweet Remy’s life. First Steps was a pivotal part of my motherhood journey and I am forever grateful for their services.