David Scott: Babies are his business
Scott feeds Spry. Scott is the lead teacher in the infant
classroom in the Selby Preschool at Children’s Haven and
Adult Community Services. SUN PHOTO/PAT COPELAND
It’s kind of like having triplets at the age of 60 – he cradles one baby and feeds it a bottle while rocking a second baby’s carrier with his foot while softly talking to a third baby happily playing with colorful stuffed shapes on a mat on the floor.
For David Scott, of Holmes Beach, it’s just another day at the "office," only Scott’s office is a room filled with cribs, play mats, rockers and toys and up to six babies. Scott is the lead teacher in the infant classroom in the Selby Preschool at Children’s Haven and Adult Community Services, commonly known as The Haven.
"He’s amazing," Ryan Stoyles, vice president of program services, said of Scott. "He’s crucial to the future success of these children because of what he does in his classroom."
Scott, who moved to Holmes Beach from Dayton, Ohio, in 1994, has a bachelor’s degree in education from Wright State University, a Florida teaching certificate for newborns through age 4 and is certified as an infant toddler development specialist. He worked at The Haven for three years, pursed other interests for couple years, and then returned to The Haven in 2001.
The preschool, which originally only served special needs and at risk infants and toddlers, now welcomes all children. For parents who work, it is one of the few options for infant care in Manatee and Sarasota counties.
In the classroom
"I have infants from six weeks to approximately 14 months old. It depends on their developmental age, which is more important than their chronological age," Scott explained.
"I can have up to six infants in my classroom with an aide. Currently, I have five and three get therapy such as fine motor skills, sensory integration and oral motor stimulation."
Scott’s day begins at 7:30 a.m. and he is constantly on the go, feeding and burping the infants, putting them to sleep, changing their diapers and stimulating them with play. A therapist comes into the room to work with those who have special needs or takes them out for therapy.
"Each child in my room has his or her own schedule," Scott said. "I try to individualize it to what the parents want, for example if they want a certain kind of food or they want their child to have a pacifier or not. A lot of my kids have reflux, so there’s two kinds of people in my room – the quick and the barfed on."
He also sings them familiar children’s songs and plays music for them with his taste running to baroque chamber music or Mozart violin concertos.
"I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile," he said. "The first three years in child’s life are the most important in terms of brain development and this is where it starts for these children."
Through the years, Scott has worked with numerous special needs infants including some with neurological problems from being exposed in the womb to illegal substances or sexually transmitted diseases and others with genetic disorders or with traumatic brain injuries from automobile accidents.
"I had a two-year-old child with seizure disorder," he recalled. "If you took him on a walk, you had to carry a medical kit with oxygen and liquid Valium. When he had a seizure, I started with the oxygen and if that didn’t work, I had to give him a Valium suppository. If that didn’t work, I had to call 911."
Another infant suffered from the effects of cytomegalovirus, which his mother had when he was in the womb and can result in blindness, hearing problems, mental retardation, and learning disabilities. Cytomegalovirus, a herpesvirus, can cause these negative effects when the mother becomes infected or experiences a recurrence during pregnancy.
"The virus is like having a bad cold or the flu, but it can cause devastating neurological effects on the fetus," Scott explained. "He had a feeding tube, and sometimes he would have seizures and start vomiting when the tube was in him."
Scott had one 8-month-old girl who was blind, possibly from shaken baby syndrome. Her father was in prison and her mother didn’t want her, so she lived with the grandmother. Then her grandmother gave her up to foster care.
"She came here and I was teaching her basic motor skills," Scott said. "She was very intelligent. A nice couple adopted her and now she’s doing great. I cried when she left. She was my baby."
Edwina Jones, a whole child advisor at The Haven, praised the work Scott does with the infants, declaring, "He’s amazing. He’s the best. The more special needs they have, the better he is. David observes so much in the children and often he sees things before anybody else does."
Scott pointed out that infants are not the only ones that benefit from services offered at The Haven. Teens and adults with disabilities can get career and occupational training and there are group homes, a community employment service and a musical theater company in partnership with the Asolo Repertory Theater.