For Stephanie Chavez, the thought of taking 19 month old son Moises Portillos to the library seemed like a daunting task. In fact, according to Stephanie, the quiet library is probably the last place that she would have thought to take Moises – who, due to developmental issues, often yells and has a hard time sitting still and focusing … and who at home won’t even look at a book.
However, a trip to the library is just what Mary Becker, who has been working with Moises at LifeROOTS since he was referred in May, thought might make a great experience for Moises and the whole family. She couldn’t have been more right – and Stephanie couldn’t be more excited about the outcome of the recent first library visit as a family.
“When Mary brought up the idea of taking Moises to the library, it took me a few weeks to really think about whether or not it could work out,” recalls Stephanie, noting that there really aren’t too many public places that she feels comfortable taking Moises due to his yelling. “I was nervous about bringing Moises into such a quiet environment, but at the same time I was eager to have Moises, and our whole family, experience all that the library has to offer and start helping him adapt to new situations and environments.”
Making the decision to take a “group trip” to the library, Stephanie, Moises, Mary — and Stephanie’s 5 year old daughter Matalena Portillos – headed to the local library … where they almost had to turn right around immediately upon entering. Right at the front of the library entrance was a service dog – sending Moises into immediate screams, and making Stephanie question whether the library trip was going to end up a disaster.
“As soon as he saw the dog, Moises began screaming loudly,” Stephanie remembers, also recalling how her first instinct was to turn right around and head home. “However, Mary calmly said that we should all go in, took Moises right to the back and started showing him books, communicating with him in sign language and really holding his attention.”
Before long, 45 minutes had passed – and Stephanie couldn’t believe that Moises was able to sit still, and really enjoy himself, for that long. Stephanie recalls that she left the library “crying with happiness” that day – excited not only for what had been accomplished, but for what this small step meant for him – and the entire family.
“This trip to the library was such an important step for our family,” says Stephanie, who notes that, due to Moises, previously had to forgo taking Matalena to the library visits she loved. “I’m excited to now not only be able to have both Matalena and Moises experience the library together moving forward, but I am so grateful for Mary and for this experience which showed me all that is possible in the future as Moises continues to grow.”