Play with a reason
AMHERST – To Ethan Harrison the toy school bus at Cumberland Early Intervention Program’s Victoria Street office is more than just a toy.
© Christopher Gooding photo
February is Early Intervention Awareness Month and as (from left) Paige Harrison and her son Ethan can attest, thanks to interventionists like Kate Jacobs at the Cumberland Early Intervention Program [CEIP] in Amherst, play and programs are making a world of difference delivering early education to children and families dealing with developmental delays. CEIP will hold an open house Feb. 20th.
It is one of the first toys the three year-old picked up when CEIP became part of his life, but within the toy is all sorts of secrets that will help Ethan develop while his family waits for it to be determined which end of the spectrum his autism will land. The school bus can come apart, it can roll, buttons to make lights flash and a sense of reward as Ethan accomplishes one of the seemingly common tasks. As he places the roof back on the bus, he claps his hands proudly and makes a triumphant sound at the accomplishment.
“If someone was to come in while Kate [Jacobs, early interventionist] is there, it look a lot like we’re playing,” Ethan’s mother Paige says. “But it works on his occupational therapy.”
Essentially, it’s play with a reason. Being young it’s difficult to know the extent his autism is, but he’s already surprising everyone. Initially it was thought he would be non-verbal, Paige said, but as his picture is taken during the interview he clearly tells the reporter “Hey. Stop that.” It's his favourite new saying, his mother explained.
“That was a great surprise for us,” Paige said. “We didn’t think he would talk.”
“We get together every two weeks,” interventionist Jacobs said. “It can be with me, or sometimes his speech pathologist.”
“It almost feels like they’re coming over we’re going to have coffee together,” Paige said. “It feels like they’re friends.”
It’s a friendship that started with a doctor referral and pre-screening before developing a program right for Ethan, but it’s a journey that has opened a lot of doors for him, as well. Through CEIP Ethan will not only have Jacobs to work with addressing needs, but access to many of the programs CEIP facilitates, like the weekend one-on-one program SMILE. His mother can look forward to respite time when grant money is available and as he gets older and becomes a young man he can look forward to the social-orientated SHINE program.
There is a lot Ethan will get through CEIP and now the public is being invited to learn more about what CEIP does and can offer. On Thursday, Feb. 20th there will be an open house at the 141 Victoria Street office from 3 – 7 p.m. It’s part of Nova Scotia’s Early Intervention Month and a way to showcase CEIP’s new office space.
Online, CEIP can be found at www.cumberlandeip.ca.