‘Connecting for Kids’ Helps Westlake Family Find Resources for Their Son
Andrea Campesino and her husband, Mark Aguiar, moved to Westlake in August 2010 from Monterrey, NL, Mexico. When their son, Andres, was 11 months old, Campesino noticed that his speech was delayed compared to other children his age. She didn’t know if this was something to be concerned about because she had read that many children who speak multiple languages typically develop speech later than their same-age peers.
While looking for programs for her son, Campesino learned about Connecting for Kids and began taking Andres to the organization’s Music Therapy & More sessions at the Westlake Porter Public Library in March 2012. Led by a board-certified music therapist, the program allows children to play instruments, sing, and move while parents learn how to carry the music experiences into the home to enhance development. Andres loved the fun, energetic program and Campesino noticed that he quickly blossomed in confidence. He was very shy when he started the program, but little by little began interacting and participating. He also improved his social skills as he learned to share and wait his turn.
Through Connecting for Kids, Campesino learned about other resources that could help Andres’ speech, including Help Me Grow of Cuyahoga County. When tested, Andres qualified for speech therapy through the county program and now receives in-home speech therapy twice a month.
In addition to Music Therapy & More, Campesino has taken advantage of the many Parent Discussion Group opportunities Connecting for Kids offers. The organization brings in local childhood development experts to speak to parents in small, interactive sessions while free, professional childcare is offered for their children.
When Andres was 21 months old his doctor recommended he be tested for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although that was an anxious time for the family, Campesino relied on support from other moms she had met through Connecting for Kids who explained the testing process and walked her through it so she knew what to expect. Although the tests came out negative, Andres, who is now 2 1/2 years old, is still behind in many areas of development. Without an official diagnosis, Andres does not fit into groups and activities designed specifically for children with ASD and that is why Connecting for Kids is such a good match for the family. The organization accepts all families concerned about physical, emotional, social/language, adaptive or cognitive development of their children, whether they have an official diagnosis or not.
Campesino has seen Andres make great strides in his speaking abilities. He has expanded his vocabulary and is starting to put two to three word sentences together to let his parents know his wants and needs. He has improved both fine and gross motor skills through exercises that help him build strength.
Campesino recently become a Connecting for Kids board member and has been working to translate the organization’s fliers and materials into Spanish to reach out to those in the Hispanic/Latino community.
On Thursday, March 20, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Connecting for Kids will host one of its largest events of the year, the Meet and Greet featuring more than 70 west side pediatric professionals. The free event, which is open to the public, will be held at the Don Umerley Civic Center, 21016 Hilliard Blvd., in Rocky River. This event is sponsored by The Child and Family Counseling Center of Westlake.
Participants can browse tables and visit with representatives from west side therapists, providers of after-school programs and summer camps to discuss services, explore program options and find out how their child’s development can be further enhanced.
The event is designed especially for parents of children with special needs and developmental delays. For more information, visit www.connectingforkids.org or contact Sarah Rintamaki at 440-250-5563 firstname.lastname@example.org.