When Paw Paw came to the United States from Myanmar eight years ago, she faced many of the same struggles other refugees experience. She did not speak any English and was filled with anxiety after spending years in a refugee camp.

Paw Paw met her husband while living in the refugee camp, and once they moved to Omaha, they later had three children. A couple years after her daughter was born, Paw Paw still felt overwhelming anxiety and wanted to be able to bond with her children but was not sure how to ask for help. A few months later, a family friend introduced her to the Baby TALK program at Heartland Family Service.

Baby TALK focuses on helping parents build healthy relationships with their children and helps them to meet important milestones in their lives so their children are prepared for school. One of the key aspects of the program is to participate in home visits to help parents bond with their children through fun, educational activities. Paw Paw and her family enrolled in Baby TALK when her daughter was two years old, where they met Paung Clay, an Early Childhood Specialist with the program.

Over the next four years, Paung Clay was excited to work with Paw Paw and her children, and during their time together, she saw their family bond strengthen exponentially. Paung Clay also saw the children grow, as they learned to speak English and got ready to go to school for the first time.

While Paw Paw’s daughter was talkative and curious, Paung Clay was concerned that the family’s son did not speak and showed little interest in things that usually captivate a child’s attention, including toys and games. She told Paw Paw she suspected her son may have Autism and encouraged her to visit their family physician. His doctor later diagnosed him with the disorder, and to help, he began attending therapy. Over time, Paw Paw was relieved to see a wonderful change in him.

However, Paw Paw still suffered from anxiety, which had not improved since she moved to Omaha. Paung Clay encouraged her to see a doctor, who helped treat Paw Paw’s anxiety with medication. Now, with consistent support from her family, she is able to manage her anxiety easily without medication.

Today, Paw Paw and her family have formed a bond that is stronger than she could have ever imagined. She looks forward to continuing to help her children grow into successful young adults.