Did you know that over 450,000 babies are born premature in the United States every year? And 15,000,000 worldwide. Because of their early arrivals preemies are more susceptible to a myriad health issues including apnea, PDA (Patent Ductus Arteriosis ) and RDS (Respiratory Distress Syndrome ). But technology and science continue to evolve. In fact, a preemie born today has a much greater chance at survival compared to only 10 years ago.  Keep checking back for more factoids.

Why EI?

Why EI?

I have had a lot of people ask me about Early Intervention (EI) lately. All this talk in Illinois about our new governor wanting to cut EI benefits to those who are in need of these services has families worried.

Here's what we used and how we benefited. When our preemie was first discharged from the NICU, he had an EI evaluation. While we were waiting for the results, he was readmitted into the PICU for a myriad issues, most of which surrounded around him not being able to eat.  Eating (taking a bottle or breastfeeding was equivalent to running a marathon.  He was burning more calories than he was taking in.) He was discharged a week later with a nasogastric (NG) tube. He qualified for EI, because he had a 30% or more delay in his development.

We started speech therapy when he was just 4 months old. I always thought it was odd that this tiny little baby was getting speech therapy. But I learned that speech therapy wasn't just about learning to speak. Our therapist (and I say “our” because none of his therapists were just for him – they all supported me too) showed my how to help him eat, suggested special bottles and we saw progress. As he got bigger and showed delays in sitting and crawling, we began to see an Occupational Therapist (OT). Amy came to our house and he made amazing progress. He walked at 15 months.

I think there was a stigma about “therapy” and getting or asking for help. But looking back, I cannot imagine what our lives would have been like if he had not received that intense help at such an early age. I know that I received the support I needed by working with professionals who understood what he was going through and helped ME understand it too.

When our preemie started kindergarten and had issues sitting up in his seat and was fidgety, I knew enough to have him evaluated by another OT. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. I was so relieved to have a NAME for what he was doing. He always did quirky things, but we just thought is was him, but to know the reason he did these things was like opening a door to a whole new world of understanding. We saw Vickie for several years. She too was my therapist. We laughed, I sometimes cried and she educated me as his mom on ways to help him. Those things are invaluable. You can't put a price on that.

So, when our 3rd child was born (full term) and we noticed that she was having issues turning her head, we once again saw our pediatrician and were referred to a specialist. She was later diagnosed with plagiocephaly, brachycephaly and torticollis – I call it the trifecta of head and neck issues. It was determined that she needed a DOC Band to help reshape her head and it was recommended that she receive physical therapy (PT). We had an evaluation through EI and it was determined that she too had a 30% or more delay and was deemed eligible for EI services. We had another amazing therapist with my daughter - thank you Lalitha! She helped calm me when my “full termer” was showing delays and helped her sit up, crawl and walk.

Could we have done it without EI? Perhaps. It wouldn't have been easy though. Our therapists gave us the tools we needed to move past their delays.

We needed EI. My family benefited from EI. I am thankful for EI and hope that others continue to receive this benefit.

Thank you, to our therapists, to those we met along the way and to all of those who provide this amazing service for all children (and their parents) in need.


Beth is the mom of 3 children - one preemie and two full term.  When she is not blogging or changing lives through her Little Bear work, she can be found on the sidelines of a basketball court, soccer field or baseball field cheering on her children.


I loved this blog post! As a social worker, I can't tell you how important it is for families to get the services AND support that they need. My sister is a Service Coordinator for EI and I am definitely going to pass this site on to her...I love the thought of others connecting here. Thanks for your entry and your dedication to such an important population!

By Mekamin