'Nothing more important than children'

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Jim Grant/Nevada Appeal

Maggie Killough worried that her nearly 1-year-old daughter, Gillian, was behind in her speech development.

"She's not babbling or talking at all," Killough said. "She's only screaming. By her age, her sister was forming words."

Killough's fears were confirmed when a specialist from Easter Seals determined that Gillian was 50 percent delayed.

It was a day the Gardnerville mom remembers as much for the devastation as for the hope that came with it.

"It took me from being so upset about it to an overwhelming sense of relief that we're going to fix it, and we're going to fix it right away," she said.

Brian Patchett, president of Easter Seals Nevada, said catching a problem early is key to education.

"For every dollar spent on early intervention, we'll save $7 down the road," he said.

He announced Tuesday the opening of the new Easter Seals office in Carson City, which will serve children with developmental disabilities from birth to age 3. He said the nonprofit began serving Northern Nevada in November and had hoped to have around 40 families enrolled.

"As of (Monday) we had 95," he said. "Clearly there's a need here. Our vision here is that we'll see that number double many times."

Carson City Mayor Bob Crowell said the nonprofit agency is a good addition to the capital.

"There's nothing more important than children," Crowell said. "And there's nothing more important than taking care of children who are developmentally disabled."

Patchett said the Carson City center will increase to eventually serve teens and adults. He said he also wants to see the services expand beyond Carson City to rural areas throughout the state.

"After just a few months, we see a dramatic difference," Patchett said. "We see miracles."

In the three weeks she's been a part of the program, Killough said, she's beginning to see her own miracles.

She and Gillian are both learning basic signs so they can communicate with one another - although 2-year-old Sophie still interprets for them sometimes. Killough is also learning to turn playtime into lessons in verbalizing.

More tests are scheduled to determine the cause of her speech delay, but Killough said she is already seeing improvements in her daughter, who will turn 1 on Saturday.

"We were at the grocery store the other day, and she said 'Hi' to someone," Killough recounted. "I almost started crying right there."


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