Savannah H Searching for Strategies for Success

“My advice for families going through a similar situation is to put in the work. It will pay off in the future. If you follow your team's instructions and do everything they say, it will pay off."

In October 2019, Savannah Haverty made her debut. She was a healthy baby joyfully welcomed by her loving parents. As time progressed, her mother, Gina, noticed Savannah was not meeting her developmental milestones on time. “She would eventually meet them, except for speech,” stated Gina. “When Savannah was 18 months, she only said three words. Eventually, those three words she stopped saying together. She wouldn’t even say, “Mama.”

“Savannah also constantly fell and bumped into walls. She wasn’t aware of her body,” noted Gina. She also did a lot of sensory seeking, such as running around the table and climbing. “Much of that is normal for an 18-month-old, but I knew we needed to seek help for her language development.”

Early Intervention at Children’s Specialized Hospital

Savannah began Children’s Specialized Hospital’s (CSH) Early Intervention Program at around 18 months old. The program is designed to provide early identification, evaluation, and intervention for children up to three years of age with a condition Savannah Hthat impairs or has a high predictability of damaging normal development. During the program, Savannah received an outpatient evaluation for speech therapy and met with a neurodevelopmental pediatrician. Savannah was then diagnosed with sensory processing difficulty, fine motor impairment, congenital hypotonia, and hyperactive behavior. She also has amblyopia of the right eye, which affects her vision. Amblyopia has affected her coordination and mobility due to Savannah's sensory processing difficulties.

Savannah is now 3½ years old and continues to meet with Dr. Zeenat Malik for her neurodevelopmental appointments. “Savannah’s difficulties can impact her academic and developmental progress. After making the diagnosis, my role has been guiding the family and making the appropriate referrals for services through school and CSH. She is receiving therapies in school and at CSH. She is improving steadily,” highlighted Dr. Malik.

Savannah HAs part of Savannah’s therapy plan, she was recommended physical, speech, and occupational therapy. She did exceptionally well and graduated from physical and speech therapy. Savannah’s mom stated, “She speaks fluently now. You never would have known that she had a speech delay. It has been an amazing journey. Early intervention was extremely beneficial. We even got a vision teacher and occupational therapist to visit our home!”

Outpatient Therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital

Savannah continues to go to occupational therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Union, where she sees Occupational Therapist Larissa Manson. These sessions focus on rapport building and sensory regulation. Savannah demonstrated increased distraction, sensory seeking, and impulsivity, impacting her safety when navigating the environment and engaging in play.

Savannah HSavannah loves therapy, especially the gym, rock-climbing wall, and swing. “She loves “heavy work,” so we incorporated lots of jumping, climbing, rolling, pushing, and swinging to help organize her body,” stated Larissa. Savannah’s occupational therapy sessions also include activities that incorporate puzzles, building, and drawing to promote the development of her fine motor, visual motor, and spatial skills.

“She has made great progress in therapy! We took a break when she transitioned to preschool in the fall. I’m excited to be working with Savannah again,” added Larissa. “We are just starting a new episode of care and are working together to develop fun and meaningful activities that will help Savannah continue developing skills related to strength, attention, and sensory regulation.”

Gina highlighted, “Larissa has given us and Savannah’s school strategies that we’ve been able to implement at home and in the classroom, such as a picture calendar and picture schedules to keep her organized. We understand more things that we can do with Savannah to better support her transition all through the help of our occupational therapist. It’s been an amazing journey with Children’s Specialized Hospital.”

Becoming a Big Sister

Savannah and AidanIn December 2020, Savannah welcomed her baby brother, Aidan. The pair quickly became inseparable. When Aidan was nine months old, he started physical therapy at CSH for torticollis. Torticollis is a condition where a baby’s neck muscles cause their head to twist and tilt to one side. Aidan successfully graduated from physical therapy when he was a year and a half old. It was then discovered that he also had a neurological tremor. Aidan was recommended an occupational therapy evaluation with Larissa. “He has not yet started occupational therapy but we will be working on using sensory and motor-based activities to support strength and success with fine motor precision activities,” noted Larissa.

Savannah and Aidan don’t let their diagnoses’ get in the way of being regular kids. They love to play outside, swing, do puzzles, color, stack blocks, and build Legos. Savannah also participates in activities for her sensory processing and hyperactive behavior, including ice skating, swimming, and soccer.

Savannah’s Successful Journey

Savannah HSavannah is making incredible progress and being recognized at school and home. “She’s overcome many big obstacles with speech, impulsivity, and body awareness,” stated Gina. “She can transition from different activities, and we’ve seen a dramatic improvement when she sits down to finish a task. Her school cannot believe she is the same child evaluated a year ago. It proves what services at Children’s Specialized Hospital can do.”

“My greatest hope is that Savannah can learn more strategies to help with her attention and impulsivity to have a successful life without too many obstacles. I want her to be able to face other obstacles head-on and to see her thrive.”

“My advice for families going through a similar situation is to put in the work. It will pay off in the future. If you follow your team's instructions and do everything they say, it will pay off,” stated Gina. “Don’t lose hope because things will get better. I just want to tell every parent that it may seem daunting and overwhelming to go to every appointment, especially in the beginning, but keep up with it, and you’re going to see so much success. We’ve seen amazing success and can’t wait for the rest of our journey.”