As a newborn, all seemed well with Everly, however as time went on, she was slow to hit milestones. The real concern came around her sixth month, when she was still unable to sit unsupported on her own.  Her parents realized more and more milestones were passing by, and there didn’t seem to be any signs of improvement.

"When something is not right with your child, it is natural that a parent will do whatever it takes to fix it. In the case of developmentally, physically and/or communicatively delayed or compromised children, that ability to ‘fix it’ is robbed from the parents. Our pediatrician agreed with our concerns, and referred us to Niagara Children’s Centre – a place that would quickly become our resource to educate us, help our child succeed, and improve Everly’s quality of life," shared Everly's mom Sarah.

Everly’s first visit to the Centre was in June 2017, where they met her physiotherapist. At the time, they had no idea what an integral part she would soon play in their lives. Shortly after, they were introduced to the remaining members of Everly’s team – her Speech Therapist, Occupational Therapist, and Physiatrist. 

"For our family, Everly’s therapy team has been everything. Since day one, they have helped us lay out a plan for her progress. The important part? The plan isn’t just a ‘to do’ list as homework for us parents, they actually explain in detail how to carry out the plan at home, but most importantly, why we’re doing it. That ‘why’ component is so critical to us. We don’t have much control over Everly’s condition, but gaining this knowledge allows us to take some of that control back.

Through our time at the Centre, Everly’s needs have definitely changed. In May of 2018, Everly contracted a virus that was quite aggressive on her system; it caused a major regression in her development. Nearly all of the progress she had made for her gross motor development in the previous year was lost. Although incredibly devastating and frustrating for us, our team at the Centre was extremely supportive providing us with an immediate action plan for her therapies. We are happy to say that Everly has been on a steady incline since then, and her progress has been great!

We have a phrase that we say with our therapist – ‘we celebrate inchstones!’ Milestones are major, but when it comes to development delays, they can take a very long time to achieve. By acknowledging inchstones, we learn that those small victories along the way are just as worthy of celebrating!"

Everly is currently working intently with her Speech Therapist as well as the Communication Assessment and Support Team (CAST) toward the big, ambitious goal of enabling Everly to have a voice. She is a great communicator thus far, by means of some verbalization, sign language, as well as picture communication. Everly is now working on getting a communicative device, which will further enable her communication. 

Physically, Everly has made some major gains in the last year. With some support, Everly is now weight-bearing on her legs and arms, and she is making progress in the early stages of motor planning for both crawling and walking. She is also working on transitioning safely in and out of physical positions, allowing her to explore and play independently. 

Regarding occupational therapy concerns, Everly has improved immensely in her fine motor control. The increased strength she has gained in her grasp now allows her to successfully self-feed using a fork and a spoon. She also has shown great improvement in her development of play skills with smaller toys, as well as her ability to use writing tools.

While these gains in her therapies have broadened her ability to independently explore her world, they have also instilled an incredible about of confidence in Everly. 

In addition to the various therapies she receives, the recreational programs at the Centre have played a big role in Everly’s success. She participates in the swimming program, which challenges her physically, while allowing her to socialize and have fun with her peers. Everly also enjoys the Walker Group, where she learns to use her walker alongside other children at the same stage, with the help of her Physiotherapist. The Centre has also incorporated picture communication into these classes, allowing Everly to continuously to work on that communication piece.

"Beyond the recreational programs, the Centre has been incredibly helpful to us by providing information and resources for financial assistance to ensure we get the proper equipment for Everly. It is extremely easy to get overwhelmed with what is on the market, versus what your child truly needs. From her bath seat and corner chair, to her standing frame and even our new vehicle, every piece of equipment we have purchased for Everly was done with the support of the Centre.

We cannot say enough about Niagara Children’s Centre. They’re superheroes. The work they do on a daily basis provides guidance, support, strength, and most importantly, hope to those who need it most.

The family-centred philosophy that the Centre stands by has been huge for us. Since day one we’ve been made to feel as part of the team, working on Everly’s goals alongside her therapists. They welcome and encourage our input, and their doors are always open to our questions. 

In addition, there has always been a concern for our health as parents, and how we’re coping. When you’re so consumed by your child’s well-being, it’s very easy to forget or ignore your own. The Centre has always been very conscious of how we, as parents, are managing throughout the journey.

Overall, the Niagara Children’s Centre is truly an incredible establishment in our community. This selfless group of people work so hard every single day to make sure children have the chance to live their best life. With a growing waitlist, it is crucial that our community supports the Centre and those families awaiting their care."



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