One Pound at Birth Meet an inspiring Wayfinder Family

Lila and Mark’s* baby was so tiny, only 1 pound and 4 ounces at birth. Mark had just visited their son, Samuel, in the neonatal intensive care unit. Worried, Mark discussed his fears with an acquaintance from church. Samuel had an eye condition common in premature babies, called ROP, Mark told her. Would Samuel be able to see? Mark had no idea that he was talking to exactly the right person—a Wayfinder specialist who could help baby Samuel tremendously.

The acquaintance was Vilay Ortega, one of Wayfinder’s most experienced early intervention specialists. Every day, Wayfinder’s specialists help hundreds of babies improve their vision and motor skills like grasping. They teach moms and dads how to support their children who have developmental challenges.

Vilay knew that Samuel needed early intervention— as soon as possible. Even though Samuel wasn’t a Wayfinder client yet, she sprang into action.

“When he was still in the hospital, I walked Lila through things she could do,” Vilay recalls, “like bringing in high-contrast images and sounds that she could make in the hospital to get him to look at her.” Lila took Vilay’s advice and worked with her son in the neonatal intensive care unit.

After discharge, Lila requested vision therapy for Samuel. “I didn’t realize that every baby develops their vision over time,” says Lila. “I learned that from Vilay.”

Vilay was assigned to be Samuel’s vision specialist. In her weekly visits, she encouraged him to reach for pom poms and beads. Using an iPad, she got the little boy to track objects with his eyes side to side and up and down.

After six months in our early intervention program, Samuel’s vision has improved dramatically. He is making progress in other developmental areas too! He’s trying to crawl, and he says “mama” and “dada.”

Mom and dad are very happy. “Since day one, Vilay has been supportive and has given me resources to help Samuel,” Lila says. “Wayfinder is giving my son opportunities to grow developmentally. I’m grateful that I was able to have Wayfinder when he got discharged.”

*Names changed for privacy

June 4, 2020