Family living a happier life after seeking help from Oakland Family Services' Early On

Jamie Brandimarte Early On.jpg

From birth, Jamie and her husband knew something wasn't quite right with their son, Dayton James, who they call DJ. When the couple brought the infant home from the hospital, he had tremors that they thought were seizures. At 3 months, DJ still couldn't move very well and slept 20 hours per day. It took until he was about 9 months old to get a diagnosis from a neurologist who determined DJ had an underdeveloped nervous system.

With this diagnosis, DJ was able to get the physical and occupational therapy he needed. His gross motor skills began to catch up and exceed other children his age, but Jamie knew something was still wrong.

"I could see how far behind he still was when I looked at friends' children of the same age," she said. "At this point, he had gotten to 2 years old and he didn't even babble. He couldn't communicate when he was hungry or thirsty. He had never said 'Mama' to me."

Then DJ's behavior started to suffer greatly from his inability to communicate. He would scream. He would break everything. He would hit, too.

"My twin daughters, who are two years older than DJ, had bite marks from him on their cheeks," Jaime said. "I had to pull him out of the daycare I had put him in for socialization, because he was hurting other children. Their moms would yell at me about his behavior. DJ even hit me so hard with a cup one time, my head swelled; I vomited, and was disoriented. It was really scary. I couldn't bring him in public because I couldn't predict when he would snap."

When DJ was about 2 years old, his pediatrician referred him to Oakland Family Services' Early On program. Twice a week for 10 months, an Early On caseworker visited their home and not only worked with DJ to help him communicate, but gave Jamie and her husband the tools they needed to parent him.

"Though DJ still works through some educational issues today, without Oakland Family Services, I know for certain he would have been very delayed, and I don't even think I would have enrolled him in school," Jamie said. "He would have missed so much because I wouldn't have been able to bring him anywhere, and I would have been bogged down with worry. Instead, we found Oakland Family Services. This agency helped my son communicate and helped me learn to better parent him. Oakland Family Services changed our lives."