Saving Babies

The case of Early Intervention

A machine kept William alive during the first three months of his life. That machine, ironically, caused May 2002irreparable damage to the very organ it was designed to help: the lungs. While that damage will never be corrected, William can grow new lungs.

The only way to grow new lungs is through nutrition. But, William's oxygen requirements and high respirations caused by his lung disease makes oral feeding impossible. So, we have to feed him through a tube placed in his stomach. His feeding issues are further complicated by reflux which causes him to throw up about half of his feeds.

The tube feeding doesn't help William overcome his oral aversion caused by the respirator which kept his mouth and throat open for 3.5 months. We have to be very careful in introducing oral stimulation so as to not create more aversion.

With the consistent help of Easter Seals, 30-months later William is now eating three servings of yogurt or food pureed to a yogurt consistency. He is still fed via g-tube to compensate for the lack of volume and nutrition, but Easter Seals has been instrumental in getting him to come this far.

In addition to the feed and grow issues, William is at least four months delayed developmentally. That means, at 10-months old he had yet to roll over, could not sit without assistance, and could not hold his head up.
At 30-months old, William is still very weak, has trouble with fine-motor skills, and walks with hesitance. The strides he has made in the past two years are phenomenal thanks to Easter Seals, his doctors and nurses. William has a bright future ahead of him and the incredible can-do attitude to ensure that future materializes.

William looks like a normal 30
-month-old. Because of his lungs, his feeding issues and his developmental delay, we can't treat William like a normal infant. There are issues we never even considered - like gag reflexes and how to push his backEaster Seals Walk 2004 ; stimulating his senses because his sense of smell, for example, is hampered by his long history on the respirator and then more than a year with a nasal canula; strengthening his muscles and working with low muscle tone; encouraging him to eat and put textured food in his mouth; preventing him from throwing up his food. Only experts can teach us how to help our son and not cause further harm.

These experts include
occupational and speech therapists from Easter Seals, his doctors at Dartmouth, and feed and swallow experts from the Bureau of Medical Services. The experts are complimented by William's daytime nursing care. The nurses are instrumental in providing therapy and taking advantage of the tiny windows of opportunity William affords us to try new things.

If William didn't receive and continue to receive early intervention, his problems would only compound. He would have been slow to wean from the oxygen. It would take much longer to teach him to eat orally and so the g-tube would continue to complicate his development. He needs nursing care as long as he has a g-tube and can't go to a normal day care.

If William doesn't continue to receive early intervention, I can only imagine the complications he'll suffer. Feeding issues into school-age that will require continued therapy at the cost of the school. Developmental issues into school-age that will create further financial drain on his school. The financial aspect is minor compared to the unnecessary hardships he will suffer.

It is in the best interest of our family, our community and our tax dollars that William (and other babies like him) are afforded the best possible care while they are still able to make a difference.

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