Grayson and John

Persistence and Progress

With toys scattered about the living room floor, John Keith runs around, finds a small car and hands it to his mom before scampering off to find another one. His brother Grayson sits in a custom harness on the nearby rocking chair observing the activity around him. 

“They’re complete opposites,” their mom, Jonelle, said with a laugh. “John is very energetic, and Grayson is quiet, calm and goes with the flow.” 

Both boys have been participating in Early Intervention through Hamilton County DD Services. John, who is almost 3, was enrolled this summer to help with speech and attention issues. Grayson, now 2, has been with the program since he was about five months old. He was born with polymicrogyria, in which the brain develops too many folds that also are unusually small. 

“I didn’t know what to expect with him – doctors said he wouldn’t live past a day and now he’s almost two,” Keith said. “It’s been a long ride. I’m just happy he has more of a chance at life than what we were told he would have.”

Keith attributes much of Grayson’s success to Elizabeth Miller, an HCDDS developmental specialist. When she started working with the family, Grayson, who also has vision and hearing difficulties, would just lie on the floor and not smile. 

“In the beginning, it’s always about learning more about the child and coaching the parents by giving them ideas and tools to try,” Miller said. “Every time we’re making progress with Grayson, but it’s a long process. He’s still young and there’s still work to do, but his personality has blossomed.”

One of the early goals, Miller said, was to get him to sit up and play, with adaptations as needed. Now, he interacts more with his surroundings and gives more small smiles.

“All the work Jonelle has done makes a big difference,” Miller said. 

Though his medical issues present a challenge, recently Grayson has been doing music therapy with Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired and receiving Early Intervention hearing services. “We’re working on positioning, trying to say words, his ability to reach and grab, and touch and explore his environment,” Miller said. 

John continues to go to occupational and speech therapy, and he’ll be starting preschool soon.

Early Intervention services have made a significant impact on Grayson and John, as well as the family, Keith said. “It’s important to let them know when your children reach milestones and when they have issues,” she said. “A lot of the benefit is having support, and we’ve learned together along the way.”

Early Intervention (EI) Services are for children younger than 3 and their families. In Ohio, early intervention is a statewide system with coordinated supports at the local level. Click here to learn more.

Grayson and John’s story originally appeared on our website on November 18, 2018. See more stories like this here.