Feeling Free Through Prolonged Exposure

Easter Seals Greater Houston has a branch of programs serving Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Families. Our mission is to assist military-connected families in building the lives they want during and after the military to meet their needs around reintegration, stability, wellness, and growth. Our goal is to provide an easy point of entry for Service Members, Veterans, and Military-Connected families to a range of behavioral health services.

Our team of clinicians serving Service Members, Veterans and Military-Connected Families uses many evidenced-based treatment modalities.  Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy teaches individuals to approach their trauma-related memories, feelings, and situations.  The outcome is learning the trauma-related memories are not dangerous and do not need to be avoided.  In other words, learning to confront the trauma instead of avoiding the trauma. 

Prolonged Exposure is difficult because the immediate response to those difficult memories and feelings is to avoid.  It is our natural default to protect ourselves from the danger.  However, the trauma is never processed, and those symptoms continue to keep the avoidance of places, people, situations, feelings, etc.  It keeps a hold on our lives.  In PE, we confront and explore the trauma in detail.

One success story of PE is of a client being able to take his son to Galveston.  He had always wanted to, but a previous trauma caused a fear of driving, and that prevented the trip from ever happening.  After doing PE with our clinician, the client made the trip and enjoyed every minute of it. 

Another success story of PE is a client being able to relate to a friend who was experiencing hardship due to abuse.  He was able to tell his story and the changes in his life he made.  His friend was grateful and decided to seek his own counseling.  Speaking about his trauma was a fear he had, and he had never spoken about the trauma prior to PE.

Lastly, after doing PE, a client described herself as feeling “free” for the first time in ten years.  Through PE, she started to recognize that she had to address the trauma and her discomfort with it in order to move forward with her life.  She said, “For the first time, I can see my life without my trauma being the highlight of it.”

Special thanks to STRONG STAR (South Texas Research Organizational Network Guiding Studies on Trauma and Resilience) for providing Easter Seals Greater Houston’s clinicians with Prolonged Exposure training.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Family Programs.

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The Impact of Camp

The following blog was written by Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Summer 2021 Camp Intern.

My name is Maddie Farrell, I’m 20 years old, and I have lived in Houston my entire life. I’m a rising junior at Texas A&M University, where I’m studying Environmental Science in hopes to work in the sustainability field. I am involved in my sorority and Aggie ACHIEVEMates, a student organization that supports the students with disabilities in the ACHIEVE program at Texas A&M. I’m very passionate about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s mission and advocating for people with disabilities. I first started volunteering with Easter Seals Greater Houston in high school through my chapter of National Charity League. I’ve volunteered at both Camp Smiles and Camp Buckaroo and I loved my experiences at both of them. I had no idea how great an impact Easter Seals Greater Houston and their clients would have on my life when I first volunteered. I have met so many amazing kids, made so many sweet friendships, and learned a lot about myself and what it means to make a difference. I’m beyond excited to serve as a camps intern for the second year in a row and I can’t wait to see the kids in person this year! 

Did you know that June is National Camping Month? Easter Seals Greater Houston proudly hosts numerous accessible day and overnight camps throughout Texas. Help ensure children with disabilities have a barrier free summer and parents of children with disabilities receive caregiving relief. Donate Today! #NationalCampingMonth

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Celebrating Our Stellar Students

The Caroline School students had a great time at their End of School Year Bash! There was much to celebrate and many ways to do it. We experimented with chemical properties to make Elephant Toothpaste, painted a year-end group mural, made giant bubbles and engaged in a LOT of sensory play!

Here’s to a successful (and in-person) 2020-2021 school year! Thank you to The Caroline School teachers & families for helping our learners flourish. See you soon for Summer Program. Click here you would like to volunteer for our summer program in June and July!

The Caroline School has openings for the 2021-2022 school year. At The Caroline School, abilities, rather than disabilities, dictate the pace and path that each student follows. With an average class size of eight learners and a staff to student ratio of 1:4, teachers are able to meet every student at their level. Learn more about the incredible community and education your child can benefit from here. Please contact our School Director, Tabitha Hernandez, at THernandez@eastersealshouston.org or 713-838-9050 ext. 362 with questions or to schedule a tour.

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Better Hearing and Speech Month

The following was written by Mary Dawson, M.A.CCC-SLP, the Clinic Director for Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program.

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to reconnect with my now 22-month old grandson after a year of only visiting through FaceTime visits. Wow, how he had changed! It was so wonderful to see and hear him communicate with us. He uses a combination of words, phrases and gestures to request, label, protest and comment about all he sees and wants. Even the short time he was with us he learned to say his version of “green truck” a new favorite toy.

As a speech- language pathologist, I am often asked, “when should I be concerned if my child is not communicating like his friend or siblings”. I inform parents to speak with their pediatrician about their concerns and provide communication milestones.

Know the signs of common speech and language disorders in children between birth and 4 years of age, an important stage in early detection of communication disorders.

  • Does not smile  (begins 2 months)
  • Does not babble (4-7 months)
  • Makes only a few sounds or gestures, like pointing (7-12 months)
  • Does not understand what others say (7 months-2 years)
  • Says only a few words (12-18 months)
  • Words are not easily understood (18 months-2 years)
  • Does not put words together to make sentences (1.5-3 years)
  • Has trouble playing and talking with other children (2-3 years)
  • Has trouble with early reading and writing skills (2.5-3 years)

Ways to Help with Language Disorders

  • Listen and respond to your child
  • Talk, read, and play with your child
  • Talk with your child in the language you are most comfortable using
  • Talk about what you are doing and what your child is doing
  • Use a lot of different words with your child
  • Use longer sentences as your child gets older

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy and Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) offer early identification and early intervention for children birth through 21 years to assist children in becoming successful communicators. Easter Seals provides a free Ages and Stages Questionnaire to see if your child is on track for their milestones. The American Speech Language Association (ASHA) also provides information to assist families with knowing the signs.

Contact Easter Seals Greater Houston at 713-838-9050 for answers regarding your child’s development or learn more here.

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Running Past the Limits

My name is Jennifer Wright, PsyD and I am so happy to be part of the Easter Seals Greater Houston team. I started as a Harvey Case Manager over three years ago and will surely retire at ESGH! I now have the honor of working with clients through the Service Members, Veterans and Military-Connected Families Programs.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with West Nile Virus Encephalitis at age 40 that I wanted to run. The neurologist told me he wasn’t sure if I would ever roller blade or run again. I didn’t have my impulse control back yet…I told him, “Forget it! You don’t know who you are talking to. I am going to roller blade and run some day! Ridiculous!” I stormed out of the doctor’s office, wanting to proving him wrong. In that second, I made the decision to dedicate my daily life to helping people find hope.

Being sick kept me from being able to sit up and caused me to fall over in the shower. Though I had never been a runner before, these new obstacles made me want to run more than ever. I also began working at Easter Seals Greater Houston, loving that the organization brought individuals hope from every interaction. The agency exemplifies this in every interaction with clients, from our initial conversation at intake to follow through several months later.

I was inspired to run the Woodlands Marathon because there are families who no longer have loved ones that can run (death, injury, suicide etc…) or there are families whose kids need 24 hour care. At mile 18 and 22, I was so nauseous from the pain. I felt the tears down on my face- I kept telling myself…”your veterans and families with disabilities push through difficult moments every single day. They embrace this because their struggle never goes away. You breathe through it, in the same way they do. They can do it…you can do it- just like them!” I made it to the finish line thanks to the families who share their stories with me at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Watch the incredible Jennifer Wright finish her race here! Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s programs that serve veterans, service members, children and adults with disabilities and their families.

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Thriving, Sassy and Healthy!

The following blog was written by a parent of two daughters in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program:

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program has been extremely beneficial and rewarding for my children. My 2-year-old daughter started doing therapy with ECI when she was 7 months old. She couldn’t walk, talk or even roll over very well and she wasn’t sitting up at all.

Today, she is a THRIVING, SASSY, and very HEALTHY 2-year-old that can do almost everything the doctors said she would struggle doing. Her progress is definitely thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston!! I am so thankful for her team of ECI therapists and the time and dedication they have put into making sure my KaMaya and her little sister Kamoura are at their very best.

Kamoura does physical therapy with ECI as well and has come a long way. Even though we are working on posture and walking, I have confidence that over the next few months, she will also be above and beyond what the doctors doubts she could do.

We have definitely enjoyed the relationships that have been built between my kids and their ECI therapists. I have appreciated the kindness and understanding that is always shown to my family, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. We are looking forward to seeing more progress with our girls in the next few months! God bless you all!

Special thanks to KaMaya and Kamoura’s ECI Team: Early Intervention Specialist Sarah Summers, Physical Therapist Ms. Charisse, Occupational Therapists Ms. Shama and Ms. Christy, SST teacher Ms. Kim, Nutritionist Ms. Tien, and Speech therapist Ms. Gretchen.

The time from birth to age three is critical in your child’s physical and cognitive development.  To help make sure your baby is reaching their developmental milestones, you can complete this free Ages & Stages Questionnaire or check with your pediatrician if you have concerns.  Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention is accepting referrals and offers tele-health as well as in-home services. Learn more!

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Family Camp Fun

Easter Seals Greater Houston puts on a variety of fully inclusive camps. Over the last year many of our camps have been virtual, but we found a way to create a phenomenal family camp in which everyone was safely socially distanced. Here are some of the wonderful memories made at Family Camp!

“We have no words to say once and again THANK YOU so much!! We had the best family weekend EVER!! We were so happy, enjoying all the nature, all the activities and the most wonderful thing was to see Roman enjoying himself during the activities. It was great to see that he was able to fully participate in all of the activities with us, seeing his face smiling is priceless, and it was possible thanks to you!!
All the staff was very kind and patient with us, because we are a big family!! God bless you and keep doing this amazing job, bringing happiness to families like ours!!
I have attached some beautiful pictures of Roman and my family during this wonderful weekend!!

Regards and blessings,
Carolina and Family”

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Family Camp was Kingsley’s first time at a sleep-away camp! With his family by his side, Kingsley felt safe & comfortable trying all new camp activities. On his first day of camp he rode horses, climbed the rock-wall, and even zip-lined! That night, we played a game called “Mission Rescue”; we had to save camp from being turned into cheese by an evil scientist! Campers had to make it from the dining hall to the other side of camp without getting caught by the “minions”, who would shine their flashlight on you and make you start over. Suddenly, going out into the dark felt scary to Kingsley, and his anxiety began to kick in about the minions in the dark. Despite mom’s reassurance and encouragement, he had quickly decided the game was too scary to play. I swooped in, asking Kingsley, “Kingsley, would it make you feel better if you had a flashlight too? So that if a minion beams you with a flashlight, you can beam them back!” He immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “YES!”. Armed with his new flashlight-shield, he headed outside to start the game with a smile on his face. Often times, a small token of reassurance goes a long way with our campers. The combined support from camp staff and parents allow campers to feel that they can do anything at camp, even something they might have shied away from in everyday life.

Camp is magic!

Lilly shared that had a great time at camp and enjoyed everything from the Energizers in the morning to the s’mores at night! Her favorite activity was horseback riding (it was her dad’s first time!) with zip-lining as a close second!

Easter Seals Greater Houston has camps for children, teens, adults, veterans, and families. Learn more about our inclusive camps today!

**In some of the pictures, masks are down/not on. In these cases, they were the only family at the outdoor activity—no other camp families or staff were around. Another family member took the photos.*

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Walk With Me, World!

We were so proud of our efforts – staff, volunteer, client, donor and sponsor alike – through Walk With Me Houston 2020. AND, this year we are so excited to be able to go #hybrid.  Still following all health protocols concerning Covid19 but able to have a limited amount of walkers at the Houston Zoo on April 24th AND unlimited walkers #virtually!

So for 2021, we invite you to: Walk With Me… Choose Your Route!  Walk, Stroll or Roll the Block virtually from now until day of April 24th!

How it works – virtually: We encourage you to register (if you haven’t already) and walk, stroll or roll around your own block daily, weekly and/or on the event day between now and April 24th. Of course, your safety comes first, but we also know that taking in a little bit of sunshine can help all of us during this difficult time!

As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWM2021 and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston then encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your (or their own) fundraising efforts.

Last year, almost 4,000 people from across the greater Houston community and the world (as far away as Rwanda!) were in attendance. With all of our options – we KNOW you can help us beat that!

Every step you take helps connect veterans, children and adults with all types of disabilities to the services they desperately need. And this year, you can count your active minutes and compete in our competitions too!

How to register:
*If you have already registered as a walker, thank you! And let’s get those steps in!  *All we need is your help with spreading the word about Walk With Me Choose Your Route!
*If you’re new to our Walk With Me community, register as a virtual or on site walker here!

How to encourage your friends to continue to help you in your fundraising efforts:

  • As you walk, stroll or roll your block, be sure to take photos or videos…or even live stream your experience and use the hashtag #WWM2021 and tag @EasterSealsGreaterHouston to encourage your friends and family to do the same to help support your fundraising efforts. You can even create a Facebook fundraiser to make it that much easier (you can do this while in your registered account).
  • Ask friends and family to join your team, create their own teams and challenge their peer networks (Scout troops, Mother’s Day Out, faith communities, volunteer groups and more) to do the same!
  • Click here for an updated email you can send to your friends and family to encourage continued donations to your virtual walker page!

Donate NOW to help us continue our life-changing work!

2020 and 2021 have been hard for everyone; our clients and our staff have accomplished amazing things. Their success is your success! We need your support in helping us reach our $1 million goal NOW MORE THAN EVER BEFORE. Your commitment will help ensure that Easter Seals can continue its mission of providing services for thousands in our greater Houston community living with all types of disabilities each year.

Donate to a walker to support Easter Seals Greater Houston today!

We look forward to seeing your smiling faces – walking, strolling and rolling! Special thanks to our amazing first time and returning sponsors!

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THRIVE-ing in 2021

Is one of your goals for 2021 to budget or to save money? Easter Seals Greater Houston’s THRIVE team is launching an online Zoom financial education class focusing on budgeting and food. In this class we will discuss a wide range of tips and tricks on how to save money at the grocery store including: why creating a budget is important; how to easily work making a grocery list, checking sale ads and coupons to save money into your life; how to navigate grocery store apps; and how you can implement these cash saving tips in your life.

Check out some of the tips we have for saving money! Join our class and get the in depth knowledge by emailing JGaehring@eastersealshouston.org today.

  • Did you know that there are sale cycles on products?
  • Being aware of when and what goes on sale and combining coupons is the secret extreme couponers use
  • Did you know there’s a way to get a Sunday paper for only a $1.00?
  • Did you know there are now manufacture digital coupons or that some grocery stores will match their competitors pricing?
  • Did you know there are certain tricks you can combine to save the most money?
  • Did you know that there are websites that do all the work for you and recommend where to go for best sale and coupon combinations?

We will be going over how to use grocery store apps, sale ads and coupons to your advantage and how planning ahead can save you money. Learn the secrets and tips to save money on your grocery store trips. Please contact Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org if you are interested in this class.

Our THRIVE Program aims to help Veterans, those with disabilities, and their caregivers learn how to budget, one-on-one financial coaching, home buyers education classes and help finding a job.

To learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston programs please contact

Homebuyers Education Classes & One-on-One Financial Coaching – Jenny Lopez-Martinez at JLopez@eastersealshouston.org

One-on-One Financial Coaching and Financial Classes – Jessika Gaehring at Jgaehring@eastersealshouston.org

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Escaping Boredom Together

Even though we are just itching to get to see each other again in person, we are making the most of our time on Zoom! Every week our LEAD Adult Program meets virtually via Zoom with a different activity planned for each meeting. Last week, Kenzie Richard volunteered her time to lead our adults through a Disney World Virtual Escape Room! Our LEADers participated in each challenge to escape Disney World. Some of the challenges were quite hard but when we worked as a team, we were able to get out in just under an hour. Thank you Kenzie for leading us through that fun adventure! Check out this video of our Adult Program participants working together to escape the room and boredom.

Do you have a special activity or program you think our LEAD Adult Program would enjoy? Are you interested in leading us through the activity for 30 minutes or an hour via Zoom? Email Ashley Nichols at ANichols@eastersealshouston.org to learn how you can get involved!

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD (Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities) Adult Programs.

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