Letitia Anthony, of Edmond, had a typical twin pregnancy - some medical issues, some bed rest and two fraternal boys born four weeks early. Her labor and delivery proved easier than the pregnancy - not as much discomfort as Letitia and her husband, Scott, expected and no complications. Joshua Peter, born at 7:00 a.m, weighed 5.5 pounds and Todd Robert, born two minutes later, weighed 5.13 pounds. All seemed well.
Both Letitia and Scott work as physical therapists. After a couple of hours getting to know their babies, the couple started "noticing a few things" with Todd. He'd seemed to pause; he became fussy and refused to eat. The medical staff blamed an immature nervous system, as well as nervous parents.
The couple insisted on tests. The tests showed Todd had experienced two strokes sometime before, during or after delivery.
In the beginning, the twin's prognosis seemed bleak. Thirteen months later, though, Todd has defied doctors' expectations, though the future is still hazy.
"We've received so much support and so many resources through SoonerStart," said Letitia. "We love our physical therapist she's been such a blessing to us. We're beginning speech therapy. We see doctors for his eyes and ears. We also receive counseling services to help us cope."
SoonerStart, the early intervention program designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers from birth to age three who have developmental delays or disabilities, joined with child protective services during fiscal year 2005. A new federal law requires all children birth to age three in state custody foster care due to a substantiated abuse or neglect complaint receive a SoonerStart assessment and services, if necessary. When children are identified for early intervention, the long-term effects of developmental delays can be reduced, giving children an opportunity for a brighter future.
The SoonerStart program provides services to children and their families from 26 SoonerStart service sites and 10 regional offices. Child development specialists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, dietitians, speech and language pathologists, resource coordinators and social workers deliver services in the child's home or other natural environment. SoonerStart uses a coaching model to deliver services. This model helps parents and caretakers learn how to assist children to develop skills needed.
Anyone can refer a child to SoonerStart for a screening to determine if the child needs a developmental evaluation. There is no direct cost to parents, but the child will be referred for a Medicaid application to determine Medicaid eligibility.
SoonerStart is a joint effort of Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Department of Education, Oklahoma Department of Health, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Commission on Children and Youth, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center-Tolbert Center.
- 11,831 Oklahomans received developmental disability services in fiscal year 2005
- Of these, 3,797 children received services
- SoonerStart served 9,000 children in fiscal year 2005