Gerda Compas initially wasn’t sure that her son’s slower pace at hitting developmental milestones was anything to worry about. He was only 18 months old at the time, and all the Lake Country mom had for comparison was her older daughter, who had hit many of her milestones ahead of time.
But a physiotherapist friend advised Gerda to get Miko on the wait list for child development services anyway, just in case. That turned out to be good advice. The toddler did indeed need some support with his gross motor skills. Unfortunately, it took 18 months on the wait list to get him those supports.
“He was two when he walked, and he bum-scooted for the longest time,” recalls Gerda. “His walking was different than other kids his age. Even at three, he ran like a baby does, with his hands in the air.”
Luckily, Gerda was able to get Miko into the Infant Development Program at Starbright Child Development Centre in Kelowna after two months of waiting, which meant he started to receive some supports before he was two.
But therapeutic services such as speech therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy all have extensive waitlists at Starbright and other child development centres around the province, the result of a seven-year freeze on funding even while the B.C. population has continued to grow. Miko was on the waitlist until he was age three for those therapies.
“Waiting was stressful, but being in the infant program was really good. It felt like you still were getting services,” says Gerda. “If you had an issue or problem, you could share it with staff and they’d help you through it.”
Miko is now three and a half and has received speech, occupational and physio therapy. He sees the speech therapist every other week, and goes once a month for physio therapy. The occupational therapist and physio therapist have paid a visit to Miko’s day care to meet with staff there, and advise them on how best to support him.
“We’ve seen a huge difference in him in six months,” says Gerda. “All the therapies have helped Miko so much. He has made so much progress.”
Miko doesn’t yet have a diagnosis. His pediatrician thinks he just needs a little longer to catch up to the developmental stages of other children his age. Whether he might have Developmental Coordination Disorder is also being considered, but nothing has been confirmed.
“What we do know for sure is that he’s functioning really well and has made big improvements,” says Gerda. “By the time he turns five and is released from the Early Childhood Development program, we’ll all know a lot more. We’re not too concerned about him, but we know it’s best to get these supports happening before the school years.”
Miko really enjoys his therapy time at Starbright, adds Gerda.
“He loves his therapists. And they never make you feel like your child has issues or problems – you feel confident that they’re helping you in the best way to help you,” she says.
“It’s so great that kids can get the help they need. In the long run, if you catch these issues early on, so much money is saved by avoiding later problems. We think that centre is so important.”