Blake Ferguson is an energetic two-year-old who’s ready to take on the world – a world that gets bigger and more exciting every day thanks to Early Steps and Easterseals.
Blake was born two months prematurely and with significant hearing impairment – an impairment recognized immediately by the medical team who cared for him in the neonatal intensive care unit. That’s the moment that started Donald and Tara Ferguson’s journey to Early Steps: Florida's early intervention system that offers services to eligible infants and toddlers (up to 3 years) with developmental delays. Locally, the program is operated by Easterseals of Northeast Central Florida.
Interventions began right away for Blake as an Early Steps therapist began working with him at the Ferguson’s home when he was hardly four months old. Monthly visits, which continue today, focus on playing with sounds he enjoys with the help of his hearing aids.
“The state got us connected with Early Steps right away; there was no long wait time,” said Tara. “Our contact connected us immediately with an Early Steps play therapist who visits our home once a month for an hour-long session.”
Today, Blake’s relationship with sound and his vocabulary and communication skills continue to improve through Early Steps therapy. “He’s addicted to anything that plays music,” said Tara. “If it has anything to do with music, he’s loving it.”
The Fergusons rave about the support they’ve received from Easterseals staff and the group of professionals they work with through the DeLand office.
“Deanna is fabulous with letting us know about playgroups,” said Tara. “She knows I’m a teacher, so she always emails me and lets me know when there’s a playgroup on my days off. Having a network of support has been fabulous.”
“I tell other parents to contact Easterseals and they’ll find a way to help you,” she said, “and that’s what’s been great with Easterseals in DeLand. Any question I have, Crystal finds an answer the next day.
“For me, Easterseals has been an open door. I’ve never done any of this before and every step of the way Easterseals has helped us through everything,” said Tara.
Donald and Tara encourage parents to seek out resources from Eeasterseals from the first moment of concern.
“If you’re not sure what to do, go find out,” said Donald. “Easterseals will tell you right away and lead you in the right direction. There are so many different avenues they can help you with.”
“I definitely want to continue to be involved in things even when Blake’s out of the program,” said Tara. “They’ve just been a great help for us that I cannot imagine not trying to help them as well.”
The Ferguson family is thrilled to be part of the 2019 Honorary Ambassadors program. Join them for Walk With Me on April 26 in Daytona Beach. Join their team, register to walk or donate at www.walkwithme.org/daytona.