UNION COUNTY — An early intervention program led by the Union County Disabilities and Special Needs Board (DSNB) board helps children at an early age, enhancing the way in which they learn for the rest of their lives.
“As We Grow” is an early intervention program overseen by Union County DSNB. The Union-based program is a family-focused, in-home service available to families to promote children’s age-appropriate development during the critical early years of life. The service is available to children from birth to age five.
“As We Grow” provides families with information and resources that can positively impact the development of the child. An early interventionist (EI) assigned to the family works closely with the family to locate resources that the child may need and assists in coordinating such resources.
Union County DSNB Family Support Services Director Angie Barber said there are a lot of people who don’t realize how important those early years of learning are.
“I’ve really seen success stories,” Barber said. “We’ve had a lot of children start out in early intervention and go into regular classrooms and do well.”
Greta Sanders Bailey said her daughter, Ella, began receiving early intervention services through As We Grow when she was two years old, with an EI coming into their home once a week and working with Ella on skills ranging from fine/gross motor skills, reading and writing, counting and color recognition.
“Through this one-on-one interaction, Ella was able to develop these skills long before she ever enrolled in kindergarten,” Bailey said. “Sonya (the EI) recognized Ella’s strengths and weaknesses and developed learning strategies to keep Ella interested and keep her progressing.”
Bailey said the importance of her daughter’s EI services can be seen almost daily, and at Awards Day at Foster Park Elementary, Ella was presented with a reading award for her 5K kindergarten class.
Bailey also said she feels Union County is truly fortunate to have the services and knowledge provided by As We Grow, with the services not only helping Ella, but also helping the family by providing information and additional resources to allow them to further Ella’s educational and social skills.
“The passion shown by the staff at the DSNB is reflected in the progress and achievement of those who they help, like Ella,” Bailey said.
Barber said referrals for As We Grow can be made at any age. For children up to three years of age, parents or caregivers may contact the BabyNet state office — specifically asking for As We Grow, which is based in Union — by calling 1-877-621-0865 or visiting www.scfirststeps.com/BabyNet.
For children ages three to five, parents or caregivers may call the SCDDSN Referral Line at 1-800-289-7012, also specifically asking for As We Grow.
“Children sometimes do more than even doctors expect,” Barber said. “It’s amazing — the progress they can make. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”
To contact As We Grow directly, call (864) 427-7700. Union County DSNB is located at 226 South Gadberry Street, Union.
Who may need early intervention services?
• Any family who suspects their child’s development could be delayed.
• A child who has been diagnosed with a genetic, physical or mental disability.
• A child who was considered high risk due to being premature.
Birth to 6 months, many children:
• respond to own name
• copy sounds
• like to play with others, especially parents
• sit without support for a short time
9 months to 1 year (12 months):
• use simple gestures, like shaking head “no” or waving “bye-bye”
• pull up to stand
• say “mama,” “dada” and “uh oh”
• copy gestures
1 year (12 months) to 18 months:
• play simple pretend, such as feeding a doll
• point to show others something interesting
• show a full range of emotions, such as happy, sad and angry
• walk without help
• say several single words
18 months to 2 years (24 months):
• say phrases with two to four words
• follow simple instructions
• kick a ball
• get excited when with other children
• point to things or pictures
2 years (24 months) to 3 years (36 months):
• show affection for friends/family
• use four- to five-word sentences
• copy adults and friends
• play make-believe
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org.