Marina, a single mom to 3-year-old Abi, was desperately struggling to make ends meet. Marina heard about Way to Grow from a friend, and was eager to learn how to help her son. At 3 years old, Abi was only speaking in grunts and made-up words. He would often get frustrated and throw violent tantrums when Marina could not understand him. Because of his behavior, family and friends refused to care for Abi, making Marina feel trapped.
From the first Way to Grow home visit, it was clear Abi was developmentally behind and needed additional services to succeed. Sarah, a Way to Grow family educator, had Abi screened for developmental delays and immediately enrolled him in early-childhood special education classes. Sarah also began to focus on Marina to help her develop parenting skills.
On one home visit, Sarah brought books with barnyard and zoo animals. While reading to Abi, she showed Marina how to engage him in dialogue. She encouraged Marina to ask Abi to name the different animals, talk about where they live, and what sounds the animals make. Together, they all sang “Going to the Zoo” while making a lion puppet from a paper bag. Abi was encouraged to have his puppet talk to his mom. Sarah explained to Marina how books, songs and activities help to encourage talking and increase vocabulary. After every visit, Sarah would leave a book and set goals with Marina to complete before the next visit.
In less than six months, Abi spoke in full sentences and could identify all the letters in the alphabet. He loves looking at books and singing songs. Because Abi communicates better, and has more stability in his home life, his behavioral issues have diminished significantly. He no longer throws tantrums, and family and friends are now able to watch him. This has allowed Marina to attend English classes at a nearby community center, and given her the ability to start planning for their future.