Vermont Part C Early Intervention Program Affiliation
How FITP Benefited My Child and Family
As a child growing up, various misfortunes caused me to struggle in all aspects of my life. My father opted to work on his parent's farm after completing eighth grade; my mother was pulled out of seventh grade to care for her younger siblings. For my parents, education was a distant dream. It was a dream for which I also had no support or access to. In addition to lost education, I experienced the effects of domestic abuse throughout my adolescent and teenage years, including unspeakable physical and emotional abuse.
When I was 26 I had my first child. To be sure I did everything right as a parent, I read countless parenting books, asked lots of questions, and carefully listened to the advice of seasoned parents. Knowing what I had come from, I couldn't help but feel proud of my parenting skills. Feeling successful as a good parent, my level of awareness emerged in that intergenerational abuse is a myth, not a fact.
At age 28, after one year of nursing school, our son, Jacob, was born. My plan was to finish my second year of nursing school until my husband and I learned that Jacob had had an inter-uterine stroke. The days of feeling like a competent parent were gone. Grieving at my child's loss, wondering what I could have possibly done to cause his stroke, parenting without help was in my hands. As I struggled emotionally, I remember thinking, "Will I ever feel happy? Is there such a thing as happiness?" I also wondered, "Perhaps psychology is right; I am forever broken because of my childhood past."
Although my family's world had turned upside down, I was determined to do all I could to raise my children in their best interest. Nonetheless, one of the primary advantages came from the Family, Infant and Toddler Program (FITP). Family centered, FITP put my family at the heart of the program by allowing us to make team decisions about Jacob and including our family in the services that were delivered to him. I learned so much from his service providers by being a part of his services and consultations. Unbeknownst to me, I received early intervention training that further expanded my skills as a parent and benefited my child's development.
Jacob's well-being and overall development flourished. He was doing things the doctors said he wouldn't be able to do. Jacob's service providers were able to detect conditions he exhibited and make recommendations for additional testing such as apraxia, aphasia, and acid reflux disease. All his needs were met promptly. I strongly believe that, because Jacob's developmental challenges and medical needs were addressed early, many of them are resolved today, such as his acid reflux disease, seizures, and oral motor delays.
I flourished as well. At a time that seemed so bleak and challenging, a time that could have landed me into deep depression, their support was critical. Because FITP service providers used gentle guidance, I independently came to understand the importance of taking care of myself. Having the ability to take care of myself prevented me from being unable to care for my children. The FITP staff always complimented me and the accomplishments of my children, not just Jacob's progress. Persuaded by FITP, finding my voice became the driving force that led me to become involved in the Vermont Interagency Coordinating Council (VICC), which oversees Vermont's FIT programs, and to finish my Bachelor's degree in prevention and community development. Today, I successfully work in a professional field carrying out various levels of professional work.
A program that focuses on the family as a whole using a strength-based approach is a program that not only helps children to flourish in all areas of development, it also helps parents rise above strenuous circumstances. Children and parents go hand-in-hand, and, as a community, we cannot provide services to one and not the other. It's our job on a system and community level to approach families holistically, a perspective that draws out the strengths of children and their family's versus the perspective of "what's broken and how can I fix it?"
Our family today, all five of us, is resilient and content. There really is such a thing as happiness and it's great to know what it feels like.
Thank you, FITP, for believing in my child and family!
Last modified April 11 2013 02:25 PM