January 13, 2021

by: Emily Hastings


David, who will be turning three years old later this month, loves books, songs, smiling and laughing. He has a large vocabulary and a sweet personality that is such a blessing to everyone he meets. Whether he’s telling his mom, “I think my hair is terrific,” or “This is splendid, mommy,” his words bring so much joy. But like many clients who come through UCP’s doors, David’s journey has not been an easy one.

In utero, David was very active and had a big personality. But when David was 30 weeks old, he suddenly became still, and his mother Kathleen knew something was wrong. She went to the hospital and was told she’d had a placental abruption. Within 24 hours David made his appearance. Kathleen experienced major hemorrhaging and the doctor said had they not gone in when they did, both Kathleen and David might not have survived.

After David was born, he spent six weeks in the NICU. His parents were initially told he had a grade 1 or 2 brain bleed, but that the doctors would continue doing weekly ultrasounds on his brain to see if the bleeding progressed. When all was said and done, David was diagnosed with a grade 4 brain bleed, leading to periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). Babies with PVL have an increased risk of developmental delays. His parents were in shock and were grieving what this meant for David’s future.

David started PT, OT and Speech therapies at the hospital within a week of being born. Speech was one of the most important therapies so that David could learn to feed by mouth. Children with PVL often struggle with both physical gross motor and language development, so David’s doctors wanted to make sure that David would not fall behind. It was a rough first year as David would often cry through his therapy sessions.

Shortly after David turned two years old, his early intervention team told his parents about UCP’s Steps to Independence intensive therapy program. His parents were initially hesitant because they didn’t know if David could handle an intensive program, but they decided to give it a try to see if it would help David achieve goals and milestones at a faster pace. After their initial tour of the LeafBridge therapy department, they said they felt like they were the most important family there, but they also recognized that’s just how UCP makes every family feel.

To hear the rest of David’s story, watch the video below.

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