My son was born with a congenital anomaly that required surgery when he was just 4 days old. Shortly after discharge from the NICU he started having problems with latching while breast-feeding. After two weeks of seeing a lactation consultant, I followed her recommendation to feed Jon with a bottle. Being a pediatrician I knew something was definitely different with my son. In my twenty years of practicing pediatrics I’ve never heard a lactationist tell a mother not to breast-feed! Even after attempting to eat only from the bottle, he wasn’t gaining weight.
Unfortunately, he was readmitted at 1 month of age for failure to thrive. By 4 months of age he had a nasogastric tube insertion for improved intake of calories so his body could grow and develop. Shortly after turning 1 year of age, my son needed a gastrostomy tube for delivery of his nutrition since he hadn’t mastered eating to sustain his life.
Early intervention services started at 6 months of age with him receiving occupational, physical and speech therapies weekly. Fortunately, EI services were provided at our home, so I was able to maintain my private practice. As Jon approached his third birthday, it became evident that he would need continued services outside the home (EI ends at 36 months of age). I closed my practice so I could take Jon for outpatient treatment. He also entered preschool for developmental delay and received educational services in the school setting.
Jon continues to have his challenges with gross/fine motor delay, speech and feeding, but he has made tremendous gains with the help of these community resources. Jon’s pediatrician often says, “He is the poster child for early intervention.” I cannot stress enough the importance or necessity of early intervention services and early childhood education. As a pediatrician, I’ve seen what happens to children who don’t receive these needed resources. But my experience as a parent has inspired a deeper commitment and passion for treating special needs children.
Valerie L. Bowman, M.D., FAAP, with over 20 years in the Richmond area as a pediatrician, currently leads the Bon Secours Developmental and Special Needs Pediatrics medical team. She lives in Richmond with her husband and three sons.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Bowman, call 804-287-7463
Or request an appointment online here.
Bon Secours Developmental & Special Needs Pediatrics
5855 Bremo Road, MOB North, Suite 703 Richmond, VA 23226
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