Meet Bennett, our 2023 Ambassador
Bennett David Essman was born on January 27, 2020 after mom was induced two weeks before her due date. The pregnancy became increasingly dangerous due to hypertension which began at 32 weeks. However, the birth went smoothly and Bennett’s parents had no issues or concerns those first months.
Like most children, Bennett spent the first couple years of his life in lockdown. This isolation resulted in less interaction with other people including children his age and may be partly responsible for the speech delay that Katie and Bryan (mom and dad) noticed about 16 months old. Bennett was only speaking about 5 words at 16 months and his parents took him to his pediatrician who recommended an evaluation with SRRC.
By his second birthday, Bennett was receiving speech therapy and attending SRRC’s Toddler Class twice a week. A year later, and you would never know he had struggled with speech. “He went from speaking 5 words to expressing complete thoughts. If you would have asked me this time last year, I would have never guessed he would be speaking full sentences,” said Katie.
Bennett turned three last month and graduated out of the SRRC program. He is now attending Deer Park Pre-School part-time where he will continue to receive therapy until it is no longer needed.
Dad says that Bennett’s behavior greatly improved once his speech developed. “Before EI, we had a lot of trouble communicating with him about his wants and needs and he would become very frustrated with us. Since he has been able to communicate with us, I have noticed a big improvement in his behavior.”
Katie and Bryan are so thankful that a local provider was available for their son. They hope he continues to flourish and will eventually be dismissed from his IEP by the time he starts Kindergarten. They credit Bennett’s hard work and SRRC’s therapists for the progress he has made. They hope other families will hear their story and consider a free screening at SRRC if they have any concerns.
“Unfortunately, many families wait so long to speak to their doctor or get an evaluation and the child turns three and no longer qualifies for early intervention. The earlier therapy is started the better the outcomes will be,” said President & CEO of SRRC Tracy Beattie.
Bennett’s dad believes that he could have benefited from early intervention. “I know personally I am not the best communicator in my personal and professional life. I hope that the therapy Bennett received will make him an all-around better communicator now and in the future so that he doesn’t have the same struggles as I have.”
Meet Our Past Ambassadors
Meet the many faces of Starved Rock Regional Center. Each child is chosen to represent the center for the year and showcase their unique needs and ways that SRRC has helped them reach their maximum potential.