Written by her mother, Alyssa 

At Olivia’s fifteen-month doctor’s visit, we had concerns that Olivia was not verbally communicating. It felt as though she was expressing frustration when trying to help us understand her needs and wants.    

Olivia’s pediatrician recommended an evaluation for early support services and suggested contacting Holly Ridge Center. We had already been utilizing the online At Home Learning site that Holly Ridge Center Educators published seasonally. We were eager to see what kind of support they could give her.    

When I reached out to Holly Ridge Center, Jamie, the Family Resource Coordinator (FRC), was so kind and patient when helping navigate all the questions and paperwork needed to get Olivia evaluated.  

A Family Resource Coordinator is the first point of contact and connection for each family entering services. Once approved and ready for evaluation, the FRC connected our family with the appropriate Holly Ridge Center staff.  

I was overwhelmed on the day of the evaluation because my other child was sick. Family Resource Coordinator Mary Ann and Speech Language Pathologist Marie quickly offered a solution to switch to a virtual evaluation, which meant I could keep the appointment! Then, I was thinking, how would this work with a toddler over Zoom? But the staff knew exactly how to interact with her through the computer and follow Olivia’s cues for engagement. When Olivia was interested and engaged, they engaged with her. When she wasn’t, the staff would ask me the needed questions.  

After Olivia’s evaluation, Holly Ridge Center recommended we have a Family Trainer come in and assist in teaching Olivia how to communicate.  

Jordan, Olivia’s father, had expressed concern that Olivia, now 18 months old and shy, wouldn’t even interact with the Family Trainer. “When Patrece came to our home,” he says, “it did take Olivia some time to warm up, but Patrece knew what to do to engage Olivia in a way that helped her become interested in play.”  

Patrece asked what Olivia’s favorite toys were and used her toys and books to engage with her in a patient and gentle manner. When Patrece visits Olivia, there is a lot of play, sign language, repetitive actions and words, and a lot of learning – for Olivia and her parents! We are happy to report that with just a few visits from Patrece, Olivia’s sign language has grown by five words, which has drastically helped her communicate, and she is already becoming less frustrated.    

Olivia’s journey with Early Support Services has just begun! We can’t wait to see the impact that Patrece and Holly Ridge Center continue to have on Olivia’s development.