A FAMILY’S STORY: Naomi Gillean Shares how LifeROOTS Helped Son Liam … and the Entire Family

As first-time parents, Naomi and Diego Gillean knew they needed help in navigating how to get the services needed for their son Liam – diagnosed at birth with a chromosomal disorder and in need of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy to start as soon as possible. When she was referred to LifeROOTS when Liam was only three months old, and learned that not only would she be able to receive all three services for Liam, but receive them in her own home environment, she was thrilled – and, upon actually meeting the therapists who would be working with Liam, knew immediately that LifeROOTS would be life-changing for her family.

“As soon as I met Liam’s therapists, I knew that not only were they going to help set Liam up for success, but they would help us navigate through what was a very confusing time for us,” Naomi recalled. “From the very beginning, we built a relationship with Liam’s therapists that was so important to us at that critical time in our lives. Not only did they show us how to advocate for Liam, but they provided valuable all-around support and truly saw his potential.”

Beginning at three months old, Liam received in-home services from “wonderful therapists” including weekly PT, OT and speech therapy sessions. With each week, Naomi watched as his therapists continued to “think outside of the box and work on things that we wouldn’t normally know to work on as parents,” said Naomi. Naomi and Diego were thrilled to see Liam continue to grow and thrive through the combination of services. In particular, when Liam underwent surgery and regressed a bit during his recovery period, Naomi noted that not only were his LifeROOTS therapists instrumental in helping him during that difficult transition, but they played a vital role in helping to assure the worried parents that “everything would be okay.”

Although the family’s move to Texas soon after Liam turned one meant that they would no longer be able to look forward to the weekly PT/OT/Speech Therapy sessions, Naomi notes that “keeping in close touch with speech therapist Mary Becker, who had a special bond with Liam, was a wonderful thing.” Naomi and Mary stayed in touch over the years – and when the family (which now includes two more children, Lincoln and Logan) returned to Albuquerque this past April, Mary was the one who suggested that the family’s young daughter Lincoln could also benefit from services through the Environmental Risk Assessment program. Mary currently provides in-home speech therapy services to Lincoln – giving her the opportunity to also continue to keep her special bond with the entire Gillean family (including Liam – who, at five years old, no longer is eligible for early-intervention services … with Naomi noting that she’d be “first in line if LifeROOTS ever offered 3 years and older intervention!” )

“From helping us get the resources we needed for Liam that first year, to helping us learn how to advocate for him while in Albuquerque and giving us the skills needed for us to continue to advocate for him while living in other states, LifeROOTS gave us an important foundation that has been so valuable to us,” said Naomi. “Returning to the familiar faces who played such an important role in Liam’s life has been amazing, and we are so lucky, and thankful, to once again have Mary providing services that we know will be so valuable to our young daughter.”

Naomi credits LifeROOTS and their early intervention services for Liam as helping to enhance their lives in such an important way – and is thankful that the “roots” she created four years ago has now led her back to LifeROOTS and the therapists that she knows from personal experience can make all of the difference.

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