ASK MOM - Newborn's problems worry new mother

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Q: I have just given birth to a beautiful baby boy. It was a very hard delivery and he seems to be having some issues with breathing and feeding. The doctors are running some tests but know very little yet. They have mentioned that the baby may have some kind of syndrome that could cause some delays with his learning and speech. My husband keeps telling me that everything will be OK, but I am so worried and upset and I can't quit crying. My friends come to offer comfort and support but they have never experienced this with their children and they don't know quite what to say. I feel very isolated and alone. A nurse did tell me that there are people who can help my baby with his development and give me the emotional support I need. Do you know of anyone who could not only help my baby, but also help me understand all that is going on right now?

A: Congratulations on the birth of your baby! Having a baby is a very exciting time but it can also be overwhelming and when you add in special needs it can make things so much more stressful. First off, there is help for the both of you! Walla Walla County has a program called the "Infant Toddler Early Intervention Program."

This program provides services for infants and toddlers, birth up to three years of age, who have disabilities (which include health issues) or delays in development. ITEIP's Family Resources Coordinator will explain the services available in detail. The coordinator will meet with you and your husband and talk about the needs of your baby.

A screening and assessments will determine what kind of support your baby will need. A child needs only a 25 percent delay or more to qualify in the following areas: Communication, Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Cognitive, and Social.

Once it is determined where the baby's delays are, the FRC will assist you in setting up an Individualized Family Service Plan, which includes services necessary to enhance your child's development and the capacity of the family to meet the needs of your child.

Speech, physical and occupational therapists are available along with many other specialists.

Most services are free of charge.

The ITEIP program will follow the progress of your baby until the age of three, and if services are still needed, the FRC will assist you in transitioning into another community/school program.

FRC will help you understand the dynamics of the therapy and all the programs being offered. The ITEIP program is a voluntary program that puts you, the parent, in the driver seat. You decide what therapy or combine therapy to fit your family the best.

As for support for yourself, you are not alone. There is a program called "Parent to Parent" in the Walla Walla Valley that can offer information and support to you and your family. The Parent to Parent Coordinator will be able to set you up with a "Helping Parent" who is a trained parent who has gone through a similar situation with their own child/ren.

The Helping Parent is someone who can offer you a listening ear, help direct you to resources in the community, and help you to understand all that is going on. Parent to Parent has a large lending library with books, toys, and equipment to loan to parents and professionals. They can also help you find information on your child's special need.

Parent to Parent offers support groups each month for new parents and for parents/care providers of teens or older with special needs.

These support groups offer topics of interest such as parenting, toilet training, school issues, sibling and family issues, Social Security Income, guardianships, adult living and employment. They also offer special guests speakers from the community and throughout Washington State. They offer some fun events for the whole family like a Moms' Day Out, Easter Egg Hunt, Summer Picnic, Christmas Party, Ice Skating Party and more.

Both the ITEIP and Parent to Parent Program are offered in English and Spanish.

For more information about ITEIP contact Carla Nibler, Lead Family Resources Coordinator, at 509-524-2920. To contact the Parent to Parent Coordinator, call Angie Witt at 509-524-2942. For information in Spanish about either program contact Ysabel Fuentes, Family Resources Coordinator and Spanish Outreach Coordinator for Parent to Parent, at 524-524-2920. Ask Mom is a weekly feature in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. If you have a question you would like to submit to the Ask Mom panel, send it to catherinehicks@wwub.com.

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