Kindering Success: Julian's Story

December 8, 2021

Story provided by DCYF partner Kindering.

Michelle and Tiago were introduced to Kindering – the largest Early Support for Infants and Toddlers (ESIT) program in the state – when their pediatrician referred their son Julian to support his development. At 18 months old, Julian wasn’t crawling, walking, or talking at the rate of his peers.

Overwhelmed by the unknowns for their only child, Julian’s parents quickly found hope again when they started working with the team at Kindering. Their team helped make learning new developmental skills fun for Julian while simultaneously providing support strategies for his parents.

When Julian’s father, Tiago, passed away unexpectedly in 2019, Julian’s team brought Kindering’s family therapist to his next therapy session. Provided with the support she didn’t even know she needed, Michelle says, “It shows the commitment that Kindering therapists have – going above and beyond to support parents.”

When the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic began, Julian started receiving Kindering services virtually with the same team that he saw in person. The routine of seeing the same team over the screen was comforting during a time of so many unknowns for Julian and Michelle.

Michelle is still in awe of the endless support she receives from his therapists. At each virtual therapy session, Michelle guides Julian through an activity while his therapist coaches and demonstrates the activity on the screen. Julian’s therapists spend time talking and listening to Michelle, giving her the confidence and tools she needs to best support Julian. As a team, they set goals for both Michelle and Julian, encouraging them to grow together. Michelle says the Kindering team “helps me to help myself and Julian…Asking me to raise the bar and expect more because both Julian and I can do more.”

Julian has made tremendous strides both in his skills and in his confidence. Michelle often finds him practicing by himself, using the tools and reciting the mantras his therapists have taught him. Equipped with strategies and courage, Julian is thriving. When he first started at Kindering, Julian couldn’t walk on the grass. Now, he runs all over the yard, plays in the sand at the beach, climbs stairs, rides his tricycle, and goes down the slide at the park. Once quiet, Julian is now outgoing and friendly. He says hello to everyone – and persists if they don’t say hi back.

As Julian continues to grow, Michelle knows there are no limits on his future. She says, “His growth is incredible. Where I underestimated or felt he wasn’t ready, they came in and showed me that he could.”