Wayne Post
  • Early Intervention catches children up

  • To make a referral to the Early Intervention program, call 946-5749. An interview will be set up with a representative of Early Intervention, who can come to the child’s home. Scheduled next is an evaluation, which can be completed in the home or at Roosevelt Children’s Center at 848 Peirson Ave. in Newark.

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  • At 15 months, Jacob had no words.
    With no way to communicate, Jacob began acting out.
    As a teacher, his mother, Cim McFarlane, of Palmyra, understood that language affects writing, reading and listening skills. If something in that cycle is broken, she said, the rest suffer.
    Because of her concern and that of Jacob’s pediatrician, he was referred to the Wayne County Early Intervention program and diagnosed with severe speech delay.
    Within two weeks, services started and Jacob began learning sign language with a speech therapist, able for the first time to express himself.
    “It made our lives calmer,” said Cim. “Jacob understood what he needed to do to express himself. There were major changes in him.”
    As the language barrier came down, behavior issues decreased.
    “We learned to see predictors in him, when he was unable to communicate,” his mother said. “Then, we would use sign language. He used it so much more easily.”
    Early Intervention provides services for children from birth to 3 years, who have developmental delays or a high probability of delays, said Rosemary Guchone, service coordinator for Wayne County Early Intervention program, with the goal of catching them up before they go to school.
    Referrals are usually made by pediatricians, parents, day-care providers and extended family, the coordinator said, although anyone can call.
    In existence in Wayne County since 1993, the program offers speech therapy, occupational and physical therapy, special instruction, psychological services and vision services for 175 children this year.   
    “It was a great process,” said Cim, “and a lot of work. It taught my husband, James and me patience.”
    The whole family worked together, learning sign language and doing activities at home to enhance activities Jacob learned at Early Intervention, bringing his family closer.
    At 8-years-old, Jacob no longer receives services and speaks fluently, but is proud of his ability to communicate with a second language.
    He’s an enthusiastic reader, often found with his nose in a book, his mom said.
    “It’s disheartening to hear that there might be some budget cuts to the program,” said Cim, whose now six-year-old daughter, Emily also received services through the program for speech dysfluency.  
    Early Intervention reduces costs in the long run, she added.
    Although Early Intervention is a federally mandated program, parts of it could go on the chopping block, dependent on the state budget, since 50 percent of what is not paid by private insurance is paid by state tax dollars, the other 50 percent by county money, Guchone said.
    “I can’t imagine families not getting the support they need and deserve,” Cim said, adding that Jacob would not be the reader he is today without the services he received as an infant and a toddler.
    Page 2 of 2 - The family also expressed concern for their 4-month-old, who is being taught sign language by Jacob and Emily. If she should require services, what will be left to offer?