Therapist Cindy Chamberlin works with children at high risk of physical and developmental delays, through an innovative program called Birth to Three. Its goal is to intervene early to help children develop the skills they need.
Helping Children Born Dependent on Opioids
Published: November 6, 2018
Onscreen: 3-year-old Noah was born with 4 addictive drugs in his body. In the U.S., a child is born dependent on opioids every 25 minutes. After being taken from their mother, Noah and his brother Scotty were adopted by Sherry and David.
Sherry: “They’ve had a lot of major issues. Noah had this horrible rash all over his face and his bottom. And I asked the nurse, I’m like ‘where did this come from?’ and she told me that when they’re in the womb and they detox, they will move vigorously. And it makes his face raw and his bottom raw.
Scottie had actually seen them doing drugs because of the way he would grab a belt and put it on his arm and pull it with his teeth. Um…that was probably one of the most… I’m sorry…. That was… I’m sorry…
Onscreen: Therapist Cindy Chamberlin works with children born with neonatal abstinence syndrome (N.A.S.) through a program called "Birth to Three." Its goal is to intervene early to help children develop the skills they need.
Cindy Chamberlin: Children with NAS typically have impaired pain sensations, and they have a harder time organizing their sensory system.
This is a really hard activity for him.
I've really worked a lot with his feet, because he’s not using his feet muscles to kind of maintain his balance. And that’s something that we will continue to work on.
Onscreen: Sherry is well aware of the challenges, especially as Noah’s brother Scotty struggles in school.
Sherry: A couple of months ago we had a video sent home, Scotty was jumping on tables, on chairs, the teacher was asking him to get down, he would tell her no.
Teacher: You need to stop. You need to stop!
Chamberlin: Children with N.A.S. typically have a difficult time paying attention to an activity and they need to move more. In our educational system, kids are meant to sit at a desk and attend for an activity for a period of time. And the analogy I use is these children are square pegs that we are trying to stick into the round hole.
If we teach them in a stable, loving, calm environment, then children can actually relax. And when you relax, that’s when you learn, that’s when you engage, that’s when you learn your social skills, your communication skills.
Noah: I did it…
Chamberlain: You did great!
These children in my humble opinion are the innocent victims of the opioid crisis and our drug crisis. And that's why we really as a society need to be working on how we're going to help these kids survive.
Sherry: When you make a breakthrough, it’s like they bring out this little light in their face, like somebody does care, somebody is here just for me! And we feel like this is our part to do what needs to be done. Because these kids are worth fighting for.
Written, Directed, and Produced by: Sarah Holt
Camera: Stephen McCarthy
Sound: Stephen Schmidt
Edited by: Jaro Savol
Digital Producer: Arlo Perez
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2018