After a challenging and rewarding two years, Oliver attended his last day at ChildServe’s Woodland location Medical Childcare, a unique program for children who cannot attend a typical daycare due to medical needs. His graduation from Medical Childcare was bitter-sweet for his parents, Kelsey and Bobby, and our team.
“Oliver’s care team at ChildServe gave him a lot of dedicated time and were so excited to see him each and every day,” said Bobby. “I don’t know if we will ever find that level of care. I can’t say enough about how good the teachers and therapy team have been to our family.”
“We saw a true connection with Oliver and his teachers,” said Kelsey. “Knowing the kind of impact he made on their lives and vice versa is just an incredible feeling and memory to take with us. I know Oliver will love his new daycare and make new connections, but nothing can replace the teachers and relationships he built at Woodland.”
When Oliver was born, he was diagnosed with congenital vocal cord paralysis which makes it difficult for him to breathe, eat and communicate on his own.
He received a tracheostomy at ten days old while at the Blank Children’s Hospital NICU. Oliver’s tracheostomy included a surgery that created a small hole in his neck for his windpipe to have an alternate airway for breathing. While in the NICU, Oliver’s family talked to social services about the care Oliver would need after leaving the hospital.
“ChildServe’s Medical Childcare program was a great fit for us because we didn’t need homecare, but still needed a certain level of care that was not available at other daycares,” said Kelsey. “ChildServe was really the only place we found that provides this kind of service in the area.”
Medical Childcare allowed Kelsey and Bobby to find the balance between being a family, having careers and navigating Oliver’s needs. During Oliver’s initial intake at Medical Childcare, he was evaluated by speech, occupational and physical therapists, who determined he would benefit from multiple therapy sessions each week to reach his goals.
“Oliver was able to receive all three therapies during the day at Woodland, which was a big plus for us,” said Bobby. “He had enough doctor appointments in general, adding therapy appointments on top of that would have been a lot, especially while trying to work full-time.”
“Bobby and I ideally wanted to keep our careers if we could, and ChildServe enabled us to do that,” said Kelsey. “Having Oliver receive therapy during the day made our time at home with him so much more special.”
Oliver quickly achieved important milestones while in occupational and physical therapy, to the point where he eventually only needed speech therapy. One of his family’s biggest goals was for him to eat independently and enjoy a meal together.
To help him reach this goal, ChildServe Speech Language Pathologist Abbi Kay worked with Oliver and his family on a customized care plan.
“As a first-time mom, I dreamed about that nursing and bottle feeding experience, and when I wasn’t able to do those I had a really hard time with it,” said Kelsey. “Speech therapy was so important to me and I really wanted him to be able to eat on his own someday.”
“Oliver was receiving all of his nutrition through a g-tube when he started feeding therapy at ChildServe,” said Abbi. “At first, the thought of eating was scary to Oliver.”
Together, Oliver and Abbi explored eating orally with skills like chewing and trying new foods with different textures and smells.
“Oliver and I worked towards weaning him from his g-tube,” said Abbi. “After a year of feeding therapy and the support of his family and Woodland classroom staff, Oliver had his g-tube removed. It was one of the most rewarding experiences to watch Oliver become more confident and begin to enjoy food.”
“Sessions with Abbi throughout the week and having her there in a familiar and comfortable space made all the difference,” said Kelsey. “After his therapy sessions with Abbi, she would send us updates and photos of Oliver eating food he would never touch before. For the first time, we could have dinner as a family.”
Beyond Oliver’s feeding goals, Kelsey and Bobby had high hopes that he would someday use his voice to communicate.
“We weren’t sure if he was ever really going to talk,” said Bobby. “Abbi was the one who really got him to talk with the help of a special device called a Passy Muir Valve (PMV).”
“When a child has a tracheostomy placed, they are unable to direct air through their vocal folds and up through their mouth,” said Abbi. “A PMV is a one-way speaking valve that directs air up through the vocal folds and out the mouth. Without air being directed through Oliver’s vocal folds, he was unable to vocalize or make any sounds. I knew Oliver had a lot to say, we just needed a way for him to explore his voice.”
“When Oliver first started wearing the PMV he hated it,” said Bobby. “Abbi worked on it and worked on it with him to the point where he could wear it multiple hours throughout the day.”
Today, Oliver is eating, breathing and communicating all on his own! His bond with his therapists and classroom teachers will hold a special place in the hearts of many at ChildServe.
“For me, it’s very hard to put into words. What ChildServe does for kids with so many varying abilities is truly amazing. ChildServe made it possible for our Oliver to have a voice and be a kid,” said Kelsey.
ChildServe improves the health and well-being of 5,200 children each year through specialized clinical, home, and community-based programs and services. We serve children with developmental delays, disabilities, injuries, and other special healthcare needs.