Going to preschool is a milestone for children and parents alike, but for Jen Luck, watching her son Charles go will be especially meaningful.
Two years ago, a delay in Charles’ speech development raised concerns. While some said he might grow out of it, Charles’ doctor diagnosed the behavior as consistent with autism. Jen began taking Charles to Fairview Lakes Medical Center to work with licensed therapists, including occupational therapist Chris Larkin (shown above with Charles).
“I wasn’t sure I was doing the right thing, but the therapists were so reassuring,” says Jen. “If you’re not sure, don’t be afraid to try therapy. It can’t hurt; it can only help—and the sooner you get it, the better off your kid will be.”
When Charles started therapy, he said about 10 words. Sessions with therapists—and a lot of at-home work with mom—helped Charles achieve breakthroughs.
Slowly, he began to say more words. Two-word phrases followed. Today, Charles’ vocabulary has 250 words.
“I’ve worked at daycare, and I know how to make kids ask for things,” says Jen, “but there’s no way I could’ve helped Charles without the tools the therapists showed me.”
“If your kid isn’t talking to you, you don’t know what to do. You feel helpless. Now, I feel like a burden has been lifted and my prayers have been answered.”
At first, Jen would stay in therapy sessions with Charles, as her son was unable to separate from his mom in any new environment. Slowly, Charles got more comfortable.
“He used to sob if I wasn’t in the room, even if I was on the other side of the door,” Jen says. “One session at a time, he gained confidence until I was able to stay in the lobby.”
With newfound self-assurance, Charles has been able to stay in other situations by himself since then, including getting to preschool.
“It’s a 180-degree change in a year—he’s a different kid!” Jen says. “There’s no way I would’ve been able to do this without these therapists.”
The support of Fairview staff, from therapists to receptionists, has helped Jen know she is not alone in caring for Charles. Even our flag-raising facilities staff have played a part.
One day, while Jen and Charles were coming in for a session, the facilities team was removing old flags from the flag pole. Charles had just learned how to say the word flag in therapy sessions and was visibly excited, repeating the word over and over as they walked in the building.
After their session, Jen and Charles found the same team outside. They were waiting for Charles to return so he could watch them raise the new flag.
“It was so symbolic, because the whole experience at Fairview has been awesome,” says Jen. “I’m so grateful to the whole staff. They feel like family to me.”
Learn more about our Pediatric Rehabilitation Therapy services or call 612-273-6228 to schedule an appointment at a clinic near you.