Our Stories   

Kaylee Rivard

Victoria, BC

By the time Kaylee Rivard started receiving early intervention speech therapy services this year, her Greater Victoria family had been waiting for more than two frustrating years.

Unfortunately, the frustration wasn’t over. By the time Kaylee began therapy, she was only four months away from her fifth birthday - the cutoff for early intervention therapies. The therapy was barely underway when it was suddenly over, and Kaylee’s worried family had no choice but to send her off to kindergarten this fall knowing that her significant speech delay hadn’t been dealt with.

Read more about Kaylee's story.

Mylie Buess

Dawson Creek, BC

Mylie was two when her Dawson Creek family felt the first twinges of worry about the toddler’s speech. Their older son Nate had been an early talker. But by Mylie’s second birthday, she still had speech that sounded more like a baby speaking her first words than a toddler. Friends and family continued to assure Vicki that things would all straighten out in time, but she was growing concerned.

“At two and a half, things still hadn’t changed,” says Vicki.

Read more about Mylie's story.

Ryder Davies

Sicamous, BC

Little Ryder Davies was facing major life challenges well before he was even born due to his birth mother’s ongoing alcohol consumption during her pregnancy. But his adoption at age four added another one, because it left his new family with just one year to get Ryder the supports he needed through B.C.’s Early Childhood Development program.

Once a child turns five, he or she can no longer access ECD supports. Factor in waits for service of months or even years, as well as delays in diagnosis, and the reality is that some B.C. children are actually aging out of these services before ever receiving any.

Read more about Ryder's story.

Max Kraeleman

Fort St. John, BC

Christine Kraeleman is grateful that all her four-year-old son Max needed was a few months of speech therapy and ongoing home exercises to get him past his speech delays. She knows how long the wait lists are for B.C. children needing support to help them catch up in their development, and that thousands of children around the province are still waiting for any service at all.

But that didn’t make Max’s nine-month wait for speech therapy any easier on the Kraeleman family. That’s a long time to worry, and a waste of precious time in the magical first five years of a child’s life, when the young brain responds rapidly to intervention therapies.

Read more about Max's story.

Miko Compas

Lake Country, BC

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.

Read more about Miko's story.

Ava Fredrickson

Kitimat, BC

Jessica Fredrickson spent an increasingly anxious year after her daughter Ava’s birth wondering why her little girl wasn’t hitting many of the typical developmental milestones. Ava’s cousin was born right around the same time as her in 2012, and the difference between the two children’s development was striking.

“She’d had kind of a difficult birth and was born with low tone, but the doctors weren’t too concerned,” recalls Jessica. “But I noted some milestones that were really late. She wasn’t making eye contact, for instance. It was pretty easy to compare her to my nephew and see the differences.”

Read more about Ava's story.

Emma Squires

Dawson Creek, BC

Jillian Squires heard way too much about waiting in the early months after her daughter Emma’s birth three years ago.

Wait, advised the doctor when Emma was four months old and not rolling over or lifting her head like other babies her age. Wait, Jillian heard again when Emma was 11 months old and still not crawling.

When the Dawson Creek family sought a second opinion and were recommended to the South Peace Child Development Centre, they found themselves waiting again, for four long months due to the high demand for services at the centre.

Read more about Emma's story.

Ryan

Okanagan, BC

In the grand scheme of things, Peachland mother Joanie Smith knows her two-year-old son Ryan's (not his real name) twisted baby toes probably won’t end up being a major developmental concern.

But Joanie (not her real name) also knows that now is the time to be dealing with the problem. So it’s no small wonder the family feels frustrated and worried after being stuck waiting for more than a year so far just for an assessment at the child development centre.

“It could be that it’s a tendon or a muscle pulling his toe crooked, or it could be an issue with the bone,” says the mom of her toddler. “Either way, it needs to be dealt with now, while he’s young.”

Ream more about Ryan's story.

Lexie Galloway

Kelowna, BC

Support from the province’s B.C. Early Hearing Program “has been amazing” as well for the family, adds Shona.

“The woman we connect with at the program encouraged us into speech work, so right away she got us on that with flash cards and tips for sounding out different noises,” she says. “While it may have been that Lexie was always going to be an early talker, she definitely has ended up being really early!”

The Galloway family’s experience demonstrates Early Childhood Development and intervention services at their best: Delivered at the earliest opportunity in a child’s life; carefully focused on the needs of that child; and available for as long as it takes each child to achieve his or her full potential.

Read more about Lexie's story.

Hunter Martin

Shushwap, BC

Salmon Arm parents Teresa Martin and Sean Cameron were already familiar with the Shuswap Children’s Association services when their now four-year-old son Hunter started showing signs of developmental delays. Hunter’s older brother Jesse James had benefited from supports he had received through the centre when he was younger, and the family knew firsthand what a difference the right therapies and interventions can make in a child’s life.

Read more about Hunter's story.

Thompson Chadsey

Westbank, BC

The words and the thoughts are all in there for toddler Thompson Chadsey, though what used to be spoken words are more like grunts now.

Life is anything but easy for his Westbank family, who are the boy’s most active and passionate advocates. But seeing Thompson achieve what some health professionals once said would be impossible for him is its own kind of reward for the hard work, says his mother Alicia.

Read more about Thompson's story.

Yvan

Kelowna, BC

Eight months in the life of an adult passes in the blink of an eye. But that same period for a little boy whose family knows all too well that time is running out for receiving Early Childhood Development services – well, that’s a very long time.

Born in 2011 to a Kelowna family with two other children, little Yvan (not his real name) came into the world looking and acting very much like any other infant. His mother had been a late talker herself and the bilingual family was aware that boys often start speaking later, so nobody worried when Yvan still wasn’t speaking much at age two and a half.

But when his mom started taking him to the Strong Start Centre at age three, she started noticing some peculiar behaviour.

Read more about Yvan's story.

Mason Letain

Vancouver Island, BC

Jana Letain’s baby was four months old when she first started noticing that he only ever seemed to move his left arm. A couple of months later, she joked to a public health nurse that Mason was clearly going to be a left-hander.

 

That comment instantly set off alarms for the nurse, who noted to the Maple Ridge mother that children don’t actually develop a hand preference until they are at least 18 months old. The nurse suspected that Mason not using his right hand signalled that something was wrong.

 

One month and “about a million blood tests” later, the baby was diagnosed as having had a stroke sometime during the birth process. Jana was stunned by the news, but later learned that one in 2,200 children suffer strokes during birth.

 

Read more about Mason's story.

Dylan Powsey

Courtenay, BC

Becky Powsey was the first in the family to spot the curious little head bob that her young daughter did sometimes, almost as if the toddler had fallen asleep for a second or two.

 

For a little while, Becky was the only one who seemed to see it. But that changed when little Dylan’s nods progressed into full-on blackouts that left her face down in her food, or sent her crashing into furniture as she fell to the floor. Becky was doing volunteer work at the Comox Valley Child Development Association right around that time, and mentioned Dylan’s blackouts.

 

“It was almost like someone had taken her battery out, then put it back in,” recalls the Courtenay mom. “She was two by that point, and I was also concerned that she wasn’t talking, or even making sounds.”

 

Read more about Dylan's story.

Chloe Kalas

Fort St. John, BC

Fort St. John couple Liz and Paul Kalas were understandably taken aback by the number of medical and child development specialists who came into their lives in the first weeks after their daughter Chloe was born.

 

First on the scene were the doctors who kept Chloe alive after she was born with serious health challenges in November 2011.

 

Then came the lactation consultant to help with Chloe’s feeding problems. Then an infant development worker from the Early Intervention Program. Then an audiologist when it became clear that the infant had hearing problems. Then a pediatrician, and a speech pathologist.

 

Read more about Chloe's story.

Hayden Haddow

Fort St. John, BC

Daleste Haddow had all the how-to books for expecting moms, and was making plans for life with her first child.

But those plans went out the window when Hayden arrived just after the six-month mark in her pregnancy - a tiny baby facing giant challenges. Instead of cuddling Hayden in the family’s Fort St. John home, Daleste spent the next 341 days in Vancouver hospitals with Hayden nestled in a web of tubes and monitors in intensive care. “It was so hard to be there,” she recalls. “It was just overwhelming.”

 

Things were just as challenging for Daleste and husband Blair when Hayden came home. Still fed through tubes and needing oxygen, he was far behind in his development. Brain scarring due to a lack of oxygen during his hospital stays had added to his challenges.

 

Read more about Hayden's story.

 

Yannick Cadieux

Courtenay, BC

The right support can resolve even daunting problems for many children born with a disability. Just ask Courtenay mom Amanda Prince, whose newly communicative five-year-old son Yannick is proof of what a difference even a few months of intervention can make in a young child’s life.

 

The family was never in any doubt that Yannick was bright; at the age of two, he could program the TV remote for his baffled mother. But even as an infant, he hadn’t made the coos and gurgling sounds that other babies make. His lack of verbal skills became even more noticeable as he grew into a toddler, and doctors told the family that Yannick was likely autistic.

 

Read more about Yannick's story.

Chance Bainard

Comox Valley, BC

Corrine Bainard would love to turn back the clock on the 17 years it took for her son Chance to get the right diagnosis. Early intervention can change the life of a child with a disability.

 

But even though Chance was almost an adult before he got his correct diagnosis, his story underlines that early or late, intervention can still change everything for a person.

 

Chance is the youngest of three children in the Bainard family, a military family that moved to new towns every few years before settling in the Comox Valley in 2011. That was where Chance finally get a proper diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder at age 17, and began receiving support from the Comox Valley Child Development Association.

 

Read more about Chance's story.

Kelsey Highsted

Vancouver Island, BC

Don Highsted still stops to compose himself when he recalls the moment he learned that daughter Kelsey had cerebral palsy.

She was just 18 months old. Don and his wife Kim recognized that she was slower to develop motor skills than other babies, and the Vancouver Island couple had enrolled the toddler in a program providing physical therapy.

 

Her parents were both avid soccer players. And one day, Don asked Kelsey’s therapist if she would get strong enough to play soccer.

 

The reply came like a blow.  “Well, if you’ve got cerebral palsy, it’s not likely.”

 

Kelsey is 23 now. And while she doesn’t play soccer, she rides dressage on a striking chestnut horse and has just taken up cycling (on a three-wheeled bicycle).

 

Read more about Kelsey's story.

Chase Stevenson

Salmon Arm, BC

Morgan Stevenson and her husband Tyler were as prepared as anyone could be when their first-born child, Chase, arrived six weeks early and with a cleft palate. But the challenges piled up fast.

 

The baby’s cleft palate made nursing impossible, so feeding was an immediate challenge. The Salmon Arm family had to head to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver to prepare for corrective surgery. His premature birth brought its own array of risks.

 

“We were lucky,” says Morgan. “We were referred to the infant development team.”

 

Infant development is just one of the services available at the Shuswap Children’s Association in Salmon Arm, a family-based non-profit with a special focus on children with special needs.

 

Read more about Chase's story.

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