Miraculous Megan: Longtime Client and Friend

Megan Fry is an amazing 17 year old girl. She has been part of the Easter Seals Greater Houston family for over 10 years. She has the mind and the personality of a typical developing teenage girl. She loves art and has her own website, Just My Eye, that meg-w-dvox-300x225showcases her creations. One of Megan’s many unique qualities is that she was born with cerebral palsy, with an end result of being nonverbal and using a wheelchair to maneuver around. You need to be careful because she drives her chair around very fast! She communicates and shows off her big personality by using a Tobii. The Tobii is a device that allows Megan to use her eyes to pick out her words which are then shared through the speaker.

Over the years, Megan has attended our summer camps, participated in Family Day Out, received In-Home Respite, and participated in our BridgingApps program. Her family has participated in our Lil’ Rustler Rodeo night with the Houston Livestocgroupk Show and Rodeo, used a Respitality weekend, participated in our Walk With Me at the Houston Zoo event and our Hats Off to Mother’s Luncheon. We were fortunate to have Megan as our summer intern this past year. She created and distributed our Easter Seals Montgomery County newsletter. Megan is currently participating in our Family Day Out program as a Junior Director. She is amazing with our clients and our families.

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Megan is a true success story and ambassador for Easter Seals Greater Houston. Megan and her mom even went on speaking engagements last year to represent Easter Seals during the United Way campaign. She has received services and continues to give back to our community. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for Megan because we know there is nothing she can’t accomplish!

Kristie Carlisle, Respite Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Check out Megan’s dad’s post about how assistive technology helped him connect with his daughter here!

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Camp Friends are the Best Friends

Dear Carolina & Juana,

Because Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Camp Smiles changed my life so much I feel I need to let you know how 4 years ago, my first year, you had to convince my mom & dad to let me come to camp at all. My parents tried to find every reason possible that I shouldn’t be allowed to come and told CAnna 3hristine & Betsy why it would be better for me to stay home. All they would say to my parents was, “No problem – we can handle it.” My mom told me she cried every day because she missed me so much the first year I was at camp – ridiculous, right?!?!

Fast forward 3 years and I’m now having to say “see you later” to my Camp Smiles family… My mom is crying for a different reason this year – she knows I have met 2 of the most important people – you two, Carolina & Juana – who have been my counselors every year I’ve been here. Both of you have helped me become more confident in who I am. You have given me a reason to be Anna 1happy every summer because I know you accept me for who I am and make me feel understood and important. You have become more like big sisters – a part of my family – more than just camp counselors. And even though I won’t be back at Camp Smiles again as a camper I’m praying our paths continue to cross forever. You are two of the most amazing people and I hope all of your dreams come true.

Thank you to every friend I’ve made and every counselor who took the time to get to know me at camp.  I’m better for having all of you in my life.  I love you all and am grateful for all of you!

Love,

Anna, Camp Smiles Camper, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Anna 2

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Mama Bear Advocates for Her Baby Cub

Joshua, lovingly known as “Bear”, has made rapid progress since he began receiving services through Early Childhood Intervention from Easter Seals Greater Houston.  Delighted by his newly acquired skills, his mom, Stephani, wanted to share his success story:Bear

Born full term and healthy, with no apparent issues, Bear’s mom began to notice he was taking longer to reach his developmental milestones.  During checkups with the pediatricians, she voiced her concerns.  After moving to this area, Stephani followed up with new doctors.  At his two-year old well check-up, his mom reported Bear was not saying any words.  When told about the possible language delay, his doctor recommended ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) from Easter Seals Greater Houston.

The evaluation with ECI occurred in mid-March.  Bear qualified for ECI due to global delays.  One of the items on the evaluation was the string drop test.  Bear was unable to see the string as it fell, prompting the assessment team to discuss a possible problem with his vision, and encouraged Stephani to have his vision tested.

His mom was quick to follow-though with the team’s suggestion and immediately scheduled an eye exam for the next week.   At the eye appointment, Bear was diagnosed as legally blind, with significant vision loss in both eyes. He was fitted for glasses.  At first, Bear grabbed the glasses off his face.  But then, with the second try, he looked through the lenses, his face lit up, and he gave that “half-smile smirk”, truly seeing people for the first time!  Now, with his glasses, Bear is able to see the world around him, his reach and grasp have improved tremendously, and he loves watching and imitating his big brother.

From the initial evaluation, a PT (Physical Therapy, part of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program) consult was also written.  When the PT completed her evaluation, she recommended SMOs (Supra Malleolar Orthosis, which are prescribed to help stabilize ankles/feet to improve balance and walking).  Again, his mom followed-through, promptly getting the prescription and an appointment with a orthotics clinic.  Two weeks after being fitted, Bear received his SMOs.  Even though he has only been wearing the orthotics a few days, dramatic improvement has already been shown in his balance.

Not only has Bear improved in his vision and walking skills, his language skills have also increased.  He’s now imitating and using some signs and single words.  Instead of crying as he had done before, he now uBear 2ses the sign “more” to communicate what he wants.

Much of Bear’s progress was due to his mom’s response, and getting him the help he needed.  When asked about her experience with ECI of Easter Seals Greater Houston, Stephani replied:  “I didn’t know what to do until someone told me what to do.  I saw how much the suggestions helped him, and I was excited to do more.  I didn’t know where to start and they showed me.”  She has certainly embraced the team approach as the family, ECI staff, and medical professionals all work together to encourage Bear’s next new skill.

Stephani Robison, Early Childhood Intervention Program Client, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Little Steps Big Success with Easter Seals Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program

chelsea linn pic 2Written by a client’s adoptive mother.

‘It was Thanksgiving eve 2014 that I received a call from my husband wanting to know if I was still interested in adopting a baby, my heart sank. My husband and I only had one daughter and she was now 19.  We had always said one day we would try to adopt but had not pursued it, so I was very much surprised by the phone call.

My husband went on to explain that a very distant relative of his had reached out to him to see if maybe we could take a family member’s newborn, if not they were taking her to the local fire station.  We had until midnight to get there (Dallas), and well my response was an immediate YES!!!!  I left work, went straight home and we had a family meeting to ensure our 19-year-old was on board, AND her response was “what are you waiting on… GO”!penguin playing pic

We brought Jordan home that night she was 6 weeks old.  We immediately noticed that she wasn’t crying very much and that she was moving her head and arms very little. I took her to the doctor and they told me she wasn’t moving or crying because she had been left in a car seat or swing for long periods of time and had very little interactions with her parents. The doctor told me babies cry because they need something, but if no one responds eventually they stop crying. It really hit me hard now how much she had been neglected. I contacted the CPS agent in Dallas and she explained what all had happened, she told me that Jordan had been born with 4 drugs in her system and that was why they had an open case, I had a home interview and the file was closed with CPS.

monkey communication pocI had heard about #MakeTheFirstFiveCount and their on-line Ages and Stages Questionnaire.  I filled out an Easter Seals referral form and Jordan was evaluated by Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) and on January 28, 2015 she was diagnosed with a NON-categorical four-month delay and she started Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy with the Liberty County Easter Seals staff.cheetah moving pic

Ms. Leanne Armel, an amazing therapist that has been with Easter Seals Greater Houston for over fifteen years, started working with Jordan intensely, and she told me this wasn’t going to be easy and for me to stay strong…This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, as her mom my first instinct is to protect her from hurting (she had been through so much already). Every time Ms. Leanne saw me she would always reassure me this was for the best and always gave me early intervention caregiver’s techniques to do at home & in the classroom as well while not doing therapy.

Nov 2015 Infant program blog pic3 by Sharon MottA few months into it Ms. Leanne told me not to give up but to be thinking about talking her to the doctor to see if she would benefit from surgery. I was so scared and unsure as to what to do?? Ms. Leanne was so comforting and really listened to me without judging, she understood how hard it was to see Jordan crying during the sessions, but I prayed every day for God to lead guide and direct all decisions.  January we had our second IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meeting and Jordan graduated out of the program and was ahead of schedule in most milestones!! Can you believe we were discussing surgery one year ago!!  Now she will be school ready! and we are equipped with more knowledge and resources moving forward!

Sears Family,  Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program Clients

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Pardon the Pun…Rainy Day Investments with our Housing Initiative

Lately it feels like we’re in the middle of a monsoon season here in Houston. From the Tax Day floods to the cresting creeks and bayous, it may seem like we’ll neverBailey family 005 see the sun around here again. And don’t forget, hurricane season is just kicking off too! All of this water can really spell trouble for homeowners. And for potential homeowners, you may be wondering if now is really the time to buy? Even if homeownership isn’t on your radar, it’s hard not to argue that we all need to have a “rainy day” fund.

Our financial coaches and homeownership counselors in our Easter Seals Greater Houston Housing Initiative may not be able to predict the future (or the weather!) but there is a lot we CAN do for those of you who may have questions or need help reorganizing and reevaluating your financial goals:

  • Our Easter Seals Greater Houston Homebuyer’s Education Classes walk you through the process of purchasing a home, plus ways to protect your investment and what to do when the unexpected happens
  • Our Credit Boot Camps help you to understand the credit system and how it can impact you–not just when you want to purchase, but also if you need a loan to help repair your property in the face of events like floods
  • Our individual coaching sessions help you to refine and set financial goals and create an action plan to achieve them. The goals are up to you, and can be anything from managing your budget to save for a rainy day fund, to rebuilding credit, to purchasing a home!

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Our coaches are here to help (rain or shine!) and we look forward to working with you. Additionally, as part of United Way Greater Houston’s THRIVE Network, we’re happy to help connect you to organizations and services to address your needs even when they’re not within the scope of our expertise.

To schedule a class or an individual appointment, or to get more information on how our program may be of use to you, please call (713) 838-9050 x320, or email HousingProgram@eastersealshouston.org.

Dana Adams, Housing, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Your “Go To” for Child Development! #MakeTheFirstFiveCount

What are EIS and SST?

In the world of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) we really like our acronyms. BDI, IFSP, OT, PT, EIS and SST are just a few of them that are common terms to  Infant program Jamie Hearly intervention providers in the field, but to parents these terms are often new and confusing.

Today we’ll be highlighting two important terms in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Infant Program, EIS and SST:

What is an EIS? Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) professionals are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree with coursework related to early childhood intervention. EIS’s also must successfully complete specialized post-graduate training after being hired. They have expertise in infant and toddler development, both typical and atypical patterns. For example, cognitive skills and how infants and toddlers learn, and social interactions like behavior, biting, temper tantrums and picky eating.   EIS’s focus on how to embed the intervention into families’ daily activities so it will increase the opportunity for the child to practice new skills every day. Lauren Stroope, an EIS shares this:

martha and client“My name is Lauren Stroope. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University. I have worked as an EIS for 3 years. As an EIS, I help babies across developmental domains. Some babies on my caseload are just learning to sit up on their own, crawl and walk. I work with the baby and give mom tips for helping them meet motor goals. I have several two-year olds on my caseload who have speech delays. I introduce simple signs to them so they can communicate their wants and needs better while decreasing their frustration. I help kids learn how to sit and attend, and follow directions. One of my favorite success stories is from a child that just graduated. He was in our program for a year. He started out unable to sit and play for more than a few seconds and had no words. By the time he graduated, he could sit and play for our whole session, had several words, and could follow directions and answer questions by pointing or signing.”

What is SST? Specialized Skills Training (SST) is a unique early intervention service only offered by an EIS. A child can receive SST and therapy services. SST shows parents how to help their children learn with a focus on thinking skills, behavior and social skills. These are all skills your child needs to be ready for school. SST shows you ways to help your child during your family’s everyday activities by using items in your home or childcare center, and teaches you about child development and what should be happening next with milestones.leanne and client

What happens in an SST Session? An EIS will schedule visits to join the family during activities they request help with, either at home or in the community. The skills families learn during SST sessions will help the child meet specific developmental goals. For example, if a parent wants their child to talk more, an EIS demonstrates and suggests how to set up their child’s play area to encourage use of more words and asking for favorites – maybe during snack time and using pictures of food to help the child make choices. Since services are also provided in community settings, some staff has even met families in a grocery store to offer suggestions on how to reduce temper tantrums during this routine for families.

ECI Infant Program of Easter Seals Greater Houston believes that working in partnership with families and their young children is the key. An investment in babies today for a better Texas tomorrow! We are specialists in your child’s development. Check out Make The First Five Count http://www.easterseals.com/mtffc/ and make sure your child is reaching their milestones!

Lauren Stroope, EIS, Easter Seals Greater Houston Infant Program / (Early Childhood Education)

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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month…not to mention National Mobility Awareness Month

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility!

We are continuing to strive to improve and grow to be the best therapy practice we can be. With that mission in 2015 Children’s Therapy received Outpatient ctp mountainRehabilitation Facility status from Medicare and Medicaid of Texas with accreditation through the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. We successfully underwent review of our standards of practice to maintain our accreditation. Advancement to facility status allows us to expand our client base to rehabilitation as well as habilitation therapy and to demonstrate to our stakeholders, community and physicians that we are functioning at the highest degree of standards of practice.

The goal of our practice is always to foster improvements in the lives of the children we serve and their families. Here is Michael’s story.

“Michael has been receiving services at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy for three years now.   When Michael started in the program, he could hardly speak more than a handful of words, was not able to walk up and down stairs & was unable to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, etc. In just a three year time period all of that has dramatically changed.

Michael speaks in three and four word sentences now. This has been such a blessing to our family as it has greatly reduced his frustration from being unable to communicate. Whereas before, we had to guess what he might want for a snack and present different options until he said the word yes, he can now tell us. Michael has had wonderful speech therapists while at Easter Seals & his success is greatly attributable to their hard work & perseverance.

ctp cutie pieMichael was born with Hypertonia which means it is harder for him to do physical activities for a long period of time; his body gets tired more quickly.   When Michael first started physical therapy at Easter Seals he couldn’t take a step up onto a curb without holding on to someone’s hand. He now climbs up stairs on his own.   He is also able to participate in activities which involve a greater level of endurance. This has improved his ability to socialize and his overall quality of life.

Michael never received occupational therapy prior to starting therapy at Easter Seals Children’s Therapy. Things such as getting your own glass of water, bathing yourself & getting dressed independently are skills which as adults we take for granted. These however, have taken Michael significant effort to master & thanks to his occupational therapist he continues to become more independent and able to care for his basic daily needs.”

This is what we do at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility.

Mary Dawson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Director, Children’s Therapy

 

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