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DDRC Annual Hero Award Winner - Tanja

Tanja Receiving Award

The Hero award honors individuals who are mastering the day-to-day challenges of living with a disability. This is an award for people who maintain a positive attitude, contribute to their communities, exhibit perseverance and strive for personal achievements. The Hero is chosen by a selection committee who carefully reviews each nomination submitted and then chooses the individual they feel best meets the hero criteria. This year's Hero Award was presented to Tanja.

Tanja is a former member of the DDRC Board of Directors and was nominated by Paula Emeson, Adam Jones, and Bob Buckley. Last year, Tanja was diagnosed with a major medical issue that required a surgical procedure in order for doctors to administer treatments. She persevered through all the treatments getting up very early in the morning to get to Aurora and the cancer pavilion. During her treatments she was thinking of others who were also going through their own treatment regime. Tanya noticed that the other patients, both children and adults, had lost their hair and could get cold easily. She took the time to knit each one of them a hat. Tanja has been knitting since she was 10 or 11 years old. She purchased some of the yarn and friends donated extra yarn they knew they would not use. She kept busy during treatments by knitting the hats. Tanja also knitted hats this year for new babies who were born to families from her church.

What impressed her support staff the most was that while she was going through her own medical crisis, she was more concerned and worried about others and their comfort. Tanja was steadfast and handled this medical issue with dignity. She is truly a strong individual and never complained. Tanja and is truly a deserving Hero Award Winner. DDRC is proud to have Tanja as part of the DDRC family!

He'll Talk... Eventually?

Written by Christine, Ian's mom*


In the Fall of 2010, our then two year old, Ian, still was not verbally communicating the way we, as parents, would have expected. I had expressed my concerns to his pediatrician, but was told that with an older brother at home, we did not need to worry, "He'll talk eventually." About this same time, we had been struggling with what can only be described as "outbursts" from Ian where, without warning, he would become extremely upset and often physically combative. The outbursts often involved times when we were getting ready to go somewhere, leave the house, and often involved his clothes, shoes, and most often his socks, or any quick change of routine. After thirty or so minutes of drama and sitting in a dark room, we would emerge (and I would be exhausted) and life would go on.

In October 2010, our daycare provider pulled me aside and told me that the visiting nurse who made frequent visits to the center was concerned with Ian's speech development. Honestly, I smiled. It wasn't just me. Someone else was seeing this too. I told her that we thought the same thing but didn't know what to do. The next day, I had the phone number for Jefferson County's Early Intervention contact and made the call. We set up a hearing screening (all normal), the next step was to meet with the Early Intervention staff and see if there was a delay, and what might be going on.

In November 2010, Ian was determined to have significant speech and cognitive developmental delays. We were referred to DDRC for speech services.

In late December 2010, our speech therapist made her first visit to our home. Looking back, I feel like an angel was sent to me. Within the first few minutes of our visit, and my explanation of what had been going on, she told me she thought Ian may be having some sensory issues. She explained very generally what Sensory Processing Disorder is, and it truly made sense. On our next visits, I was loaned a copy of the 'Out of Sync Child' and as I read the book, light bulbs just kept going off in my head. For the first time, it started to make sense. We began some basic exercises and saw immediate results and changes. Within the first few weeks of visits, we transitioned from focusing on speech to focusing on occupational therapy. The outbursts slowed and are almost non-existent now. Then all the words came.

Prior to Early Intervention and DDRC, Ian's main form of communication were various forms of ba-ba, na-na, ma-ma, and grunts and pointing to tell us what he wanted. We are now one year later and Ian is communicating using 3-5 word sentences consistently. While we continue to work on articulation issues, we are seeing ongoing progress. The first time he said 'mommy' instead of ma-ma, I cried.

Our last meeting with Marlo and Ania was just a few days before Ian's third birthday. By this time, we had already set up an IEP and were ready to transition to Early Intervention services at the elementary pre-school program. I was scared to lose them. You see, Marlo and Ania had given me my son back. They had given me real answers to my questions, and taught us all how to move forward. I will be forever grateful to DDRC, and Marlo and Ania. They have given my son and my family something more valuable than they will ever know. I am eternally grateful for Early Intervention.

* This article is from the DDRC Early Childhood Connector (1st Quarter, 2012). To access additional articles in the DDRC Early Childhood Connector, please visit Early Intervention News.

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