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A Partner for Parents

May 09, 2024 09:11AM ● By Emily Freehling

Early intervention can be a “lifesaver” for parents of children with developmental delays

When Lauren Jablonski and her husband, Daniel, brought their son, Carson, home for the first time, he was 9.5 months old and had spent his entire life in hospital neonatal intensive care units.


Every moment since the Jablonski’s first got the call that a birth mother had chosen them as the adoptive family for Carson had been a journey toward getting the young boy—who was born with severe birth defects in his heart and internal organs—healthy enough to come home.


As the Jablonskis adjusted to life with a medically fragile infant at home, and Carson worked to heal from multiple surgeries, the family’s caseworker connected them with early intervention services from the Parent Education—Infant Development (PE-ID) program, a part of the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board.


PE-ID provides early intervention services for children from birth to 36 months. The team of speech language pathologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, early childhood education specialists and service coordinators works directly with parents and children in their homes to minimize developmental delays (and work with atypical development) during the first three years of life. The program serves families in Stafford, Spotsylvania, Caroline and King George counties, and the city of Fredericksburg.


For the Jablonskis, the visits for speech and physical therapy made a world of difference for Carson, who was not sitting up, playing with toys, rolling over or engaging in typical activities for a 9-month-old when he first came home from the hospital.


“Soon after being home, the therapists got him sitting up,” Lauren Jablonski recalls. They progressed to work on crawling, helped get the family special equipment to support Carson’s legs and help him learn to stand, and helped Lauren and Daniel understand how all the steps of infant behavior—playing with toys, putting objects in the mouth—are important pieces in a chronological process of skill-building.


“Carson has progressed and is now standing and pulling up by himself, and is just on the verge of walking after a year in early intervention,” Lauren said in March. “There is no way he would be progressing as well as he is without that therapy.”


Serving childrens’ unique needs


While Jablonski is grateful that her caseworkers connected her with PE-ID, she urges any parent who worries that their young child may not be following a typical developmental path to consult with their pediatrician. Because the earlier intervention starts, the more progress children can make in overcoming developmental delays.


And since the first three years of life are a time of exponential brain growth, seizing the opportunity is important.


That is exactly why Blake Duhon reached out to PE-ID when he sensed that his son, Bryson, was not meeting certain developmental milestones at 12 months of age.


“There were just certain things he struggled with. He was afraid of walking, he was completely scared of seeing brand-new faces,” said Duhon. “I thought, ‘Let me see if I can reach out to anybody who can help.’”


His mother, who works at Bryson’s daycare, had seen early intervention providers coming in to help other children, and suggested he reach out to PE-ID.


After about a year of receiving home visits for early intervention therapy, Blake says, “Bryson is such a different person. He is way more confident, and he is just doing amazing things.”


Helping parents be the teachers


Part of the magic of early intervention lies in the providers’ efforts not only to serve the child, but also to teach parents simple strategies that can be incorporated in a normal day to help their children progress in specific developmental skills.


“Each and every visit that they came, I have always learned something new, and everything I get from them I do on my own time,” Duhon said. “It benefitted both of us—not just Bryson.”


Both Duhon and Jablonski said the fact that PE-ID providers come to the home helps ensure therapeutic sessions can fit into a busy family schedule, and eliminates any barrier that having to drive to an appointment might present.


Lauren Jablonski has appreciated being able to ask her providers questions about specific behaviors she sees in Carson, and to share videos of things he is doing at home and get strategies for how to help him.


“They have been a lifesaver,” she said. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to get them that early help. In the long run it is going to do wonders for the child.”


As Carson turns 2 this month, Jablonski knows she has another year left to work with early intervention, but, “I have already told them, I’m going to be sad to have to say goodbye.”


While early intervention services end at 36 months of age, PE-ID’s coordinators work closely with families throughout their journey to help connect parents with the appropriate next step for their children.


As Duhon’s son, Bryson, approaches his third birthday, he said PE-ID has set him up with referrals to Head Start and screening programs that may help his son moving forward. But he’ll never forget the connection that the early intervention providers helped him forge with his son.


“He’s just a totally different kid, from where he was and where he is now,” he said. “Everybody’s help and support has made that happen.”



We’re here to help.


If you are worried that your child is not meeting developmental milestones (a good source for these is the CDC’s “Milestone Tracker” app), please call us at 540-372-3561. Visit to learn more.




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