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Children’s Services – Kennedy’s Story

Meet Kennedy

At 15 months old, Kennedy came to TARC’s tiny-k program. Kennedy’s Mom shared that her concerns with the pediatrician who advised her to be a voice and advocate for her child. At the time of her referral, the family was concerned with speech and language development along with being a “fussy baby.”

“On my way home from that [doctor’s] appointment, I made a phone call to TARC,” said Rebecca, Kennedy’s mom. “And shortly after that, I was connected to De Jones and Kennedy qualified for services. It’s been about a year that we have received TARC’s services. Through our visits we were able to put some plans together for how we can best address and help Kennedy with some of the challenges she was experiencing.”

Kennedy’s first plan included self soothing, and her mom thought they were impossible goals to reach. As time progressed, they were not only able to meet those goals, but to exceed them and set new goals. Kennedy’s team worked with her family to develop interventions that assisted the family to learn how to sooth her, calm her and communicate with her more effectively. They worked hard and found success with the strategies.

“I truly have a different child today, there’s never a manual when you have a child,” said Rebecca, “but TARC has been able to help us put that manual together and give our daughter the best possible start. We are just so grateful and thankful for the services that we are receiving.”

The gift of sight

Though there were never concerns regarding Kennedy’s vision, the Vision Spot Screener was offered as part of the evaluation process. Immediately, the screener showed that Kennedy was having issues with her vision and needed a referral to a ophthalmologist/optometrist. TARC provided the family with information for pediatric optometrists/ophthalmologists. The family was able to quickly get int o an appointment with an optometrist and discovered the need for glasses to help with Kennedy’s farsightedness.

The Vision Spot Screener was purchased with the help of the Early Childhood Block Grant (ECBG). The grant is administered by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet and Trust Fund. The ECBG funding comes from the Master Tobacco Settlement credits to the Children’s Initiative Fund. Last year’s ECBG funding allowed TARC’s Children’s Services to purchase a Vision Spot Screener.

The Spot Screener is about the size of a camera and quickly screens the vision of a child over six months old. The quick screening helps TARC’s team decide if the child should see an optometrist/ophthalmologist for follow up. The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that infants should have their first comprehensive eye exam at six months of age with appointments at age three and before starting school.

All of TARC’s therapists and teachers were trained to use the screener. All children over six months of age were to be screened using the tool, unless they are already working with an optometrist/ophthalmologists. It is important to promptly identify and correct vision issues because they can affect both their physical and intellectual development.

“After we ordered her glasses, I’ll never forget. It was a very precious moment when we put her glasses on for the first time. And she was sitting in the car watching a movie and her mouth was just wide open, she tilted her head back and was just staring at the TV. I asked her what she was able to see and she said, ‘the movie!’”

Before wearing glasses, Kennedy was uninterested in books and appeared to have a very short attention span. Now, she enjoys books, pointing out details in pictures and talking about what she can see. When you’re two, you can’t describe what you’re able to see or not see. I don’t know at what point I would have had her sight tested, said Kennedy’s mom.

About TARC’s tiny-k program

TARC’s tiny-k is the Part C early intervention program for Shawnee County. This program is designed to help families with a child who has as developmental disability or delay. Our Children’s Services staff believes that people most involved in a child’s life have the strongest influence on the child’s development. This includes parent, siblings, grandparents, childcare providers and others. Our staff utilize their training, experiences and expertise to help these important people promote the child’s development in areas such as: speech, thinking and movement.

TARC’s tiny-k program is the third largest birth to three provider of early intervention services in the state of Kansas. In 2016, TARC’s tiny-k program served 777 children with no wait list and at no cost to the families.