As someone who was born and raised in Fort Worth, I’ve always been proud of our city. Since becoming a mom of a child with “special needs,” both medically and developmentally, I’ve become even prouder. We have some of the most talented medical and developmental professionals in the country right here in our own backyard! I read posts from other moms who drive hours to their children’s doctors or therapy appointments, and I feel SO lucky to live where we do.
The hardest part about living here is choosing whom to see because there are so many great specialists in town. Not a bad problem to have!
Here, I will share some of the incredible providers we’ve met throughout our daughter’s journey.
For us, our journey began when Avery spent 234 days in the Cook Children’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit after being born 3.5 months early.
As residents of Fort Worth, we are very lucky to have one of the country’s leading integrated pediatric health care systems in our own backyard. What does integrated health care system mean, you ask? In short, it means you have access to a one-stop shop of pediatricians; specialists; medical centers; surgery centers; occupational, speech, and physical therapists; a home health company; and a health plan.
The benefits can best be explained by a couple of examples:
- When Avery came home from Cook Children’s NICU, she was still dealing with terrible reflux. Our Cook Children’s pediatrician referred us to a Cook Children’s gastrointestinal (GI) specialist. This person was then able to pull up her history, see all the previous GI testing done in the NICU, and prescribe a specialized formula through Cook Children’s Home Health that could be delivered to us monthly.
- Recently, Avery was referred by her Cook Children’s pediatrician to a Cook Children’s Ear Nose and Throat physician for her recurrent ear infections. Again, this physician was able to review Avery’s NICU records and coordinate with Avery’s Cook Children’s cardiologist on the best approach to the anesthesia that she will need when she gets her ear tubes.
See how that works? Pretty cool, huh?!?
These days, Avery’s needs have become less medical and more therapy focused. As our needs have changed, we’ve found some incredible new providers.
The Child Study Center has specialized developmental pediatricians who treat and diagnose children with learning and developmental disorders like autism and attention deficit disorder. There are very few of these doctors in the country, and we’re lucky to have some of the best here in Fort Worth. Additionally, they have The Jane Justin School for children with learning and developmental disabilities and an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) program for kids with autism. Avery was in the ABA program for a short time and made amazing progress in her feeding difficulties.
When I was looking for a new speech therapist for Avery, I received more than five different recommendations from various people in my life who all said the same thing: “Therapy with Marilyn [the owner of Carter Therapy] was life changing for us.” And, I can tell you that our experience has been no different. We currently visit Carter Therapy twice a week for feeding and speech therapy.
Sue Khammar, occupational therapist and owner of Cowtown Pediatrix, has this magical way of evaluating children’s developmental deficits, explaining why they can’t do certain things, telling you how they will work on those things in therapy, and assuring you it’s all going to be okay. Her knowledge is incredible. They are working on Avery’s gross and fine motor skills, but the progress we see positively impacts her speech and eating as well.
Some people call it preschool; we call it play therapy!
In her first couple years of life, Avery had very little interaction with other children because of her fragile immune system. This, along with other developmental delays, caused some pretty large deficits when it came to her social skills. I was looking for a place where Avery could go a couple days a week to learn how to “play” with other kids.
The preschool director and teachers are so kind and loving that it was the only place I even toured when looking for schools. Its ratio of teachers to kids is very low, and you can just feel the love all around when you walk into the school. Since starting this fall, we have seen her grow leaps and bounds.
Rounding out our “therapies” is the music program that TCU offers for families with children ages zero to four. When Avery came off oxygen at almost two, this “music therapy” was the first formal interaction she had with other kids. All the teachers are so kind and nurturing. They do a great job of explaining how their formalized music programs help with all aspects of a child’s development. It’s more than just a music class; it truly has therapeutic benefits for a child’s development.
So, who have I left off this list? Who have been some of the GREAT medical and/or therapy providers in your life?
The Fort Worth Moms Blog hosts 19 Neighbor Groups via Facebook, including the Moms of Special Needs Tarrant County. These groups are free to join and offer online and offline opportunities to build relationships and gain resources from other moms in the area.