Early intervention, and a good playgroup, changed everything

Kids playgroup outside with parachuteWe’re wrapping up our February focus on love and relationships with this guest post by Robbin Miller. Robbin is a licensed mental health counselor and the author of Playgroup Time, a picture book promoting inclusion, diversity, and friendships for young children (ages 5 months to 18 months old) with different abilities in an early intervention program.

by Robbin Miller

Valentine’s Day used to be just the two of us — my spouse and I would go out for a quiet dinner and exchanged cards and gifts to honor our commitment to each other. But then EJ entered our lives.

We adopted our son EJ in August of 2009, and with the long and frustrating five-year wait finally over, we appreciate and express our gratitude and cherish and love every day of the year.

EJ was born three weeks early and underweight. When he was four weeks old, we moved forward to get him evaluated for early intervention. EJ didn’t end up needing special services, but I still wanted my son to attend a weekly structured fun playgroup to enhance his skills in cognition, social development and fine and gross motor skills. The staff invited us to attend a weekly structured playgroup at their early intervention center when he turned five months old, and are we glad they did.

I embraced this opportunity for EJ to play with other babies and for me to meet new parents. I worked a part-time professional job in the evenings but felt very lonely at home during the day. I could not wait to socialize with other parents — I needed to get out of the house!

I counted the days for EJ to turn five months old, and yet, I had butterflies in my stomach when the playgroup started after New Years’ Day. I felt anxious going to a new place with EJ. I was afraid of not being able to mingle with other parents while EJ played with their children.

I had no idea what to expect on the first day of playgroup, but soon I learned we had nothing to worry about. EJ had so much fun playing with Avery, (a boy with Down syndrome) — both of these boys ran under a train tent, and when their quick energy and zest knocked it over on top of them, they giggled and giggled together. Later, EJ crawled over to Meghan, a six-month-old with cerebral palsy, to shake her hand. At first Meghan was shy to be on the carpeted floor with the other children, but EJ’s handshake made her smile.

EJ aged out of playgroup at 18 months old, and he’s a big six year old now. I still treasure the relationships I made when my son was a baby– with other parents, the staff, and all the new friends EJ made at playgroup.

Learn more about early intervention therapies for young children.

Learn more about inclusive childcare and playgroups.


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