stocksnap_c52a64ea10When a young family received the difficult diagnosis that their first born child was profoundly deaf, they turned to the Sunshine Early Intervention program for help. The Sunshine Early Intervention program (SEI) at The Arc Knox County offers infant and early childhood education and training for babies with developmental disabilities. This home based program teaches parents how they can most effectively work with their children with disabilities.

SEI helped the family to realize that they had options and support in understanding their son’s disability, as well as a community that would embrace their child and family. SEI introduced the family to a deaf mentor who continues to meet with them and support the parents on their journey. The parents are learning sign language, have joined a local play group for children who are hard of hearing or deaf, and have met a family who is deaf with whom they continue to plan social gatherings.

During a visit with SEI, the little boy grew hungry and started vocalizing and fidgeting. His father responded by pointing to his son’s snack and signing, “More?”. The child looked at his dad, smiled, kicked his feet with joy, and reached for more. Both parents said that was the first time they felt their son had demonstrated comprehension of sign language and knew that his father understood what he wanted. Today, he is imitating approximations of several signs and understands these gestures have meaning.

Both parents continue to learn new signs and incorporate listening activities into their son’s daily routine. The family has shown great progress and their son recently received his first Cochlear implant.

United Way of Greater Knoxville is proud to support programs like the Sunshine Early Intervention program that make a difference for families in our community. At United Way, we fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in our community. Change doesn’t happen alone. To live better, we must LIVE UNITED.

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