ICEC is an appreciated treasure in our family. Pre-diagnosis I was navigating unknown delays and concerns for my daughter Vivienne. Under the recommendation of my daughter's Physical Therapist, I applied to the regional center and after evaluations we were signed up to ICEC. I didn't know why she was struggling to meet milestones, what to expect, was scared and wondered if she could “catch up”. Even though I was not new to motherhood, navigating Regional Center, therapies and advocating for medical care for my daughter were foreign to me and overwhelming. Anxiety, concern and fear are common motherhood struggles but the amount of uncertainty and unknown surrounding my second daughter was stressful and isolating.
To me, ICEC represents both diversity and inclusion. It is a safe space to interact with diverse families with children of many different abilities. Even though the diagnosis may not be the same, ICEC connects families facing similar concerns and struggles with therapists to help guide and lead us all inclusively.
ICEC is a safe socializing space for Vivienne who loves other children but doesn't have the ability to interact or physically keep up with typical children her own age.
ICEC has given her confidence, friends and guidance from patient loving staff and therapists to blossom and grow at her own pace.
She is praised for being herself and her accomplishments are celebrated at her own pace. She has progressed more in group therapy than all her individual therapies combined, especially by watching the modeling of her peers. Vivienne’s therapists love and understand her. Her “classmates” love and interact with her. It has been my greatest pleasure watching her shine and grow in this very special space.
ICEC hasn't only been for Vivienne. The sibling program allows me to be involved in the program and focused on Vivienne. It is a special place for her big sister. I do not have to stress about childcare expenses and multiple drop offs and I know my older daughter is safe and not neglected. It allows me to focus my full attention on Vivienne without having to make tough choices about finances and the ability to provide the best medical care. I bring my older daughter to every doctor appointment and therapy session. She is not in school yet and is too young to understand why her sister gets so much more time and attention. Instead of jealousy and resentment, my older daughter loves her time in “school” while I can focus on her sister. The ICEC sibling room is a win-win. Big sister looks forward to going and spending time at ICEC and that minimizes my "mom guilt," financial burden and stress.
Arguably ICEC is the most important and impactful for me.
I can give something exciting to my older daughter,
I have seen progress in Vivienne that already has surpassed my expectations and ICEC has provided me with the tools and advice to grow and evolve into a better parent. When my daughter was diagnosed via genetic testing with a rare Neuro-developmental disorder, I would have felt isolated and devastated but with the support of ICEC, I now realize the strength and empowerment of that new knowledge.
Regardless of the diagnosis, our children will develop and progress their own way on their own timeline but having some foresight can be a gift in knowing how to manage and support my daughter to encourage her to be the best version of herself.
I was given Vivienne's diagnosis right before the group on a Monday morning and there was no other place I wanted to be at the moment to cope and absorb that information. Support of the therapists, staff and other families was all I needed for perspective and optimism. I am relearning parenthood all over again and evolving into a better person thanks to ICEC.
On top of everything, the staff go above and beyond to support, educate and help the families involved at ICEC. Staff and therapists feel more like family and friends with the care, support and attention that they provide.
For example, most recently the staff hosted both an in-person and Zoom meeting to explain the “transition at 3.” This workshop was at 7-9pm on a weeknight to accommodate families and bedtimes all to help us understand this important milestone. The staff create tools such as detailed Powerpoints, handouts and templates to use for guidance and education to direct us how to provide the best care for our children. ICEC also schedules and sets up progress evaluations for Regional Center in-house to minimize any inconvenience or stress of additional appointments. Lastly, once a month ICEC hosts a “Parent Night Out.” Staff and volunteers watch our children so that families can have 3 hours to have date night, focus on a different child or even just run errands. To know your daughter is safe, well taken care of by people who love and know her in a space that she is already comfortable, is a priceless gift that is not taken for granted. The love, accommodation, and compassion of the staff at ICEC can not be quantified or described by words alone. The program is so special because the people involved that make up the ICEC family.
Inclusion and diversity have always been important to me but my own growth, compassion and vulnerability as a person in the last six months are all due to ICEC. Motherhood may look different the second time around and may have diverted from the path I originally expected but thanks to ICEC I am able to see that different can still be very beautiful in its own way. Motherhood is tough, disabilities are tough, ICEC has been an invaluable place for my family to feel safe to grow, learn, laugh and cry without guilt or judgment. I am so thankful for everything that this program has done for me and my family, and for the connections and hopefully lifelong friends we have made here. I am optimistic for the future and I hope I can keep growing and evolving as I learn to navigate this journey of parenthood to be the most supportive and encouraging mother I can be.