While Lyndsay Perez didn’t know exactly what was happening, she knew there was something wrong.
Her daughter, Annalise, didn’t even come close to having the vocabulary of the typical 20-month-old child. As this speech delay was becoming more apparent, Lyndsay and her husband, Luis Perez, took the next step.
The Sunflower Diversified Services Early Education Center (EEC) performed a developmental screening in the family’s local school district. A full developmental evaluation was recommended and Annalise qualified for services.
This led to every-other-week visits from the EEC’s Blythe Zimmerman, early childhood special education teacher.
“We didn’t really know what to do at first,” Lyndsay recalled. “But we did know we wanted to get ahead of the problem and not make matters worse.”
Lyndsay said Annalise began making progress early on and continues to do so. And now that the toddler will age out of the EEC’s program in a couple of months at age 3, the Larned family is even more thankful for the EEC’s help.
Annalise is excelling in preschool and will be prepared for kindergarten and elementary school. Lyndsay anticipates that special education will not be necessary.
“Annalise has made amazing progress during the last year,” Lyndsay said. “She speaks in sentences and her vocabulary grows every day. Blythe gave us pointers about how to help Annalise, such as slowing down a bit when we talk and repeating things when necessary. Her growth has been super-cool.”
Perez realizes every child develops at different paces. But there comes a time when parents should consider talking to the professionals.
“We encourage parents with questions or concerns to contact the EEC,” Lyndsay said. “Sometimes parents aren’t sure if their child needs help and wonder if there is something they should be doing to help their child succeed. Every parent should know that it’s okay to ask for help.
“The EEC staff will talk with you and perform an evaluation,” she continued. “They certainly don’t look down on you or make judgments on your parenting skills. They make you feel at ease and want to help your child. They are able to support each child at different levels of learning. This is an amazing service for this area.”
Lyndsay also noted she is “extremely grateful” to the EEC and Blythe Zimmerman. “Between our family, Blythe and Becca, our incredible day-care provider, we have all been able to watch Annalise succeed.”
Zimmerman remembered the early days when Annalise was not using words and didn’t want help from others during activities.
“She had trouble playing with other children at day care because she couldn’t use words to communicate,” Zimmerman explained. “Annalise would become frustrated.
“Now, she is using two- and three-word phrases consistently, and several-word sentences,” Zimmerman added. “Her speech is clear and she initiates play with her day-care friends. She is working on her colors, numbers and categorization. When last tested, Annalise scored above most of her peers in all six areas of development.”
Zimmerman also noted the crucial ingredient in any success story.
“The Perez family has been such a pleasure to work with,” she commented. “They are willing to follow through on our suggestions and are eager to get ‘homework’ to do before my next visit.
“By following through with our plan, and having support from an excellent daycare provider, the family has seen great results.”
The EEC, located at 1312 Patton Road in Great Bend, is part of the tiny-k infant/toddler program in Kansas. The non-profit agency’s service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties. Although it is funded in part by tax revenue, it relies on private donations; its services are free to families.