Community News: MO First Steps helps Diana meet development milestones (3/15/21)

Diana Petrie has fun pouring Cheerios with her MO First Steps therapist.

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Spunky personality and happy disposition is how the team decribes Diana, 2-year-old daughter of Elizabeth and Edward Petrie. She is one of four children, filling the family home with laughter and excitement. Her favorite things to play are: baby dolls, singing and dancing with anyone, building with blocks, books, and being outside. Her favorite snack is popcorn.

Diana’s family has a history of hearing loss and after she was born at 39 weeks, Diana failed her newborn hearing screen and continued to fail on rechecks. She was seen at Children’s Mercy in Kansas City. Her doctor visit showed she had fluid, but she has not had any illnesses or ear infections. Other concerns included her very slow growth in both height and weight. She also was not yet holding her head up in a steady position.

Diana was referred to the Missouri First Steps Program through the hospital. MO First Steps services are provided through an Early Intervention Team model for babies and toddlers age birth to 3 years. Children can qualify for First Steps if they have a diagnosed medical condition associated with developmental delays, or a significant delay in one or more areas of development. Services are provided in the child’s natural environment, where an early interventionist works directly with the child and family to address the family’s concern with their child’s participation in daily routines.

Diana showed significant delays in the areas of cognition, physical development, and adaptive behavior and started receiving Special Instruction and Physical Therapy services through First Steps right away. Early Interventionists visit Diana in her home weekly. Erin, Diana’s physical therapist, states, “Diana enjoys learning new skills and demonstrates great imaginary play as she likes teaching her dolls how to perform the skills as well — for example, while working on jumping she will often have her dolls jump around the room, too. She loves going to the park nearby when it’s nice outside, and her parents are great at encouraging her independence with activities. Diana loves interacting with her siblings, who have been great motivators, as well.”

As mom and dad started to introduce baby food, they noticed Diana was not able to keep any food down and was not gaining weight. Through further testing, Diana was diagnosed with a Fructose Intolerance. Diana’s EIT team, through First Steps, was able to get some support from a dietician to help the family find foods that were safe for Diana to eat. Her development changed rapidly once she had the right diet. She began to develop her motor skills so well we were able to decrease her physical therapy. Mary, Diana’s speech therapist, states, “Elizabeth is a good reporter and is able to tell us what Diana has been doing/saying that is different. I’ve been impressed with how she has learned so much about what Diana can and can’t have in the way of food and drink and that she is always looking for more things that she can have. She has done a good job sharing this info with Diana’s sisters so they are aware of Diana’s restrictions, as well.”