In September of 2018, Oliver began attending the Early Childhood Program at Developmental Disabilities Institute (DDI) in Ronkonkoma. His mother Diana recalled how difficult it was to be away from Oliver all day, but she knew he was in good hands. “Oliver began to use a walker when he started at DDI,” Ms. Vasquez commented. “The teachers and therapists encouraged him every day to get better and better.”
Oliver attends DDI five days per week for 5 hours each day in a special education preschool class and receives related services, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. As part of the program, parents are encouraged to come to the classroom and therapy sessions. “Connecting and partnering with families is a strong emphasis in the Early Childhood program at DDI,” commented Meryl Halfon, associate director. “The Family Connections program recognizes that parents are the child’s lifelong teacher and working together yields the best possible outcome for the child.”
Ms. Vasquez has been in regular attendance at the Early Childhood Learning Center. “I come to team meetings, visit the classrooms to participate with Oliver in activities and attend his therapy sessions to know the best way to teach him new things, “commented Ms. Vasquez. “I can remember the happiest day for me was when Oliver fed himself with the spoon. I cried so much because he worked so hard to learn this.”
The physical therapy sessions for Oliver focused on his strength in walking, stair climbing, and overall independence. “Oliver enjoys when his mother comes to PT,” commented Cheryl Dorfman. “He likes to show off some of his skills and loves when his mom claps and cheers for him.”
During this session, Ms. Vasquez would observe Oliver walking independently without a walker, something she has wanted so much for him. Oliver was happy to also ride the tricycle around the therapy room and walking down the stairs all on his own. “Every day he learns something new and different,” commented Ms. Vasquez. “He now calls his sister Tacey (Stacey) and her face is so happy when he does.”
This visit to a physical therapy session was a Mother’s Day gift to remember for years to come.