Preschooler Nolan Feeney, age four, speaks in full sentences. A silly, intelligent, and thoughtful child, he describes what he needs and how he feels. He plays with his classmates, uses his imagination, and shares close connections with his family. Nolan also has autism spectrum disorder.
Until the age of three, he received services from teli (The Early Learning Institute) – a trusted provider of early intervention services and an affiliate of The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. Nolan participated in weekly sessions with his developmental, occupational, and speech therapists at home and in daycare. With reinforcement from his parents and teachers, Nolan began to make strides in feeding, eye contact, communication, socialization, and adjusting to transitions.
“The therapists at teli came into our lives at a pivotal time in Nolan’s development,” explains Kara Feeney, Nolan’s mom. “They unlocked Nolan’s hidden world and began the process of integrating it with the rest of our family’s neurotypical world. Early intervention and teli gave us the tools we needed to ensure that Nolan will grow into the best version of himself.”
When early intervention services ended at his third birthday, Nolan’s parents began a new set of services for older children, including physical therapy at The Children’s Institute. He continues to make significant progress in reaching his goals.
“When Nolan turned three, he was in the middle of a significant period of growth, and we wanted to build on this momentum,” Feeney describes. “Continuing services through organizations like The Children’s Institute has been pivotal in building on everything he accomplished through early intervention with teli.”
“The Children’s Institute is mindful about building partnerships – like the one we have with teli – that enhance our capacity to support kids at every stage of life, as well as their families,” says Dr. Wendy Pardee, president and CEO of both The Children’s Institute and teli. “We want every family to feel engaged with a unified community of support for their child, and to equip them with the tools and resources they need to help their children learn and grow.”
Nolan receives physical therapy at The Children’s Institute’s Bridgeville location. Sessions focus on increasing ankle strength and overall muscular coordination through a variety of exercises, like single leg balancing, single leg hopping, balancing on a stability ball, balancing on obstacles, hopscotch, and throwing/catching balls.
“Nolan absolutely loves his therapy sessions with Laura Smith,” Feeney says. “When we walk into the building for a session, he literally skips down the hallway with excitement to see her. She does a wonderful job of incorporating games and fun to maximize Nolan’s participation. The whole team at The Children’s Institute is wonderful to work with, and I feel so confident in the progress Nolan has made.”