Category Archives: Latest News

Embracing the New

“I did it.  I found his grave.  I talked with him for a long time.  There was no rush.  I gave him a cigarette right there on his headstone and we smoked and talked.  I got to say things that I have been waiting thirty years to say. It’s been thirty years almost to the day since I saw him. I told him that I am sorry I wasn’t there for him that night.  I told him that I know now it was not my fault that he died. 20190519 R.L. headstone image I have been carrying that around for a long time.  I realize that I can finally let that go.  I got the sense that he was there with me and I heard him say, “Just remember me.”  I know that he wants me to remember how he was a good friend and remember the good times that we had together.  It took a lot for me to touch his gravestone. I felt a wave of anxiety come over me.  And I stayed there until that feeling was gone.  At the end, I stood at attention and gave a salute to him.  I understand better now that I need to get out more, stop isolating.  I can open up and be myself.  I am able to say to myself, I want a life and I gotta step out and do that.  And I know that therapy has helped me.  It has helped to know that my ESGH therapist is rooting for me.  She helped me face my past.  At this point in my life, I am ready to embrace the new.”

Robert L.

Easter Seals Greater Houston, Veterans Mental Health Program

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Love is All Around at Family Day Out

FDO pic 2My name is Emily Padora and I am interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston this Spring. A few months ago, I had the privilege of putting together activities for our campers to do at Family Day Out. Since it was so close to Valentine’s Day, I related the entire day to all things Valentine-y. We started out the day dyeing rice red, pink, and purple to mix together for a fun sensory item to play with. Then, we all gathered together in the gym for an exciting game of ‘Musical Hearts’, where we made silly faces and performed fun movements. Later, we relaxed with a snack and short Valentine’s Day kid-friendly video. We ended the day with some playtime outside, where some campers decided to engage in a fun game of baseball, some ran around with their awesome volunteers, and others just chilled out by the swings. ESGH Family Day Out is meant to be a fun and safe environment for children with disabilities and their siblings to hangout on a Saturday morning while their parents and/or caregivers can take some time to themselves. We put together a fun-packed schedule for campers that allows for room to engage in activities that interest them. I loved being a part of the FDO program and I look forward to the next one!

 

Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern

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Technology Bears No Age

Audra Success Story | Older Adult & Stroke Survivor Using Mobile Technology

Ms. Audra Evert is an amazing artist, and her home is covered with her colorful abstract paintings. She suffered a stroke some years ago, and she needed help using a desktop windows computer and a flip phone for her technology needs. Her interests include internet searches, emails, saving and sharing photos, creating word documents, and excel spreadsheets. A nephew of hers recently asked for her knowledge about the family. She developed a goal to create a family tree.

 ESGH BridgingApps digital trainer, Jana Rodriguez helped Audra research a few options to create a family tree and offered the free website service FamilyEcho.com. Together Jana helped Ms. Evert create her family tree, as seen in her printed copy. A copy was also sent via PDF to her nephew. She hopes to expand the details with more research on other family members. At the beginning of this journey she dreaded the thought of how difficult this task would be. She was so pleased with the ease and design which she described as “perfect”!

Audra owns a flip phone and has been frustrated with not knowing how to take photos and then share them with others. Jana of ESGH BridgingAPPS  program has been working on basic phone skills with Audra, who has been practicing manipulating photos on her phone.  She is learning how to take photos, rotate and crop them, and send them to friends and family via email.  She has been thrilled with her progress!

By: The BridgingApps Team, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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The Important of Early Childhood Intervention #ECIWORKS

Rose was adopted from China in November of 2018, at the age of 33 months.  She has Down syndrome, and spent the first 33 months of her life laying in a crib, with very little human interaction.  As a consequence, she is severely delayed in her overall development, and has very, very low muscle tone.  Because of her age, Rose was only able to receive services through Early Childhood  Intervention (ECI) for two months.  Lacy Alvarado, our service coordinator from Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program, made sure that Rose had the best therapeutic intervention she could possibly get during those two month through the Brazos Valley team (PT, OT, Case Management, Nutritional services, Speech and more).  In addition to working with Rose every week on a wide range of developmental goals, the ESGH BV Team provided us with invaluable advice, and directed us to all the best service providers to meet Rose’s needs.  With their help, Rose has made amazing progress, meeting many of her goals each and every week.  Before starting with ECI, Rose had very limited usage of her left side, she couldn’t sit without bracing herself on her legs, and was completely unable to feed herself.  In just two short months, Rose is now using her left hand and arm to complete all kinds of tasks, she can sit up straight without using her arms to brace herself, she is able to bring food to her mouth for self-feeding, she is beginning to use her arms and legs to “army crawl”, and she is learning how to follow simple directions.

 

With the help of Jana Aguilar, her physical therapist through Easter Seals Houston’s ECI Program, Rose has discovered that she has legs, and is beginning to bear weight on them, moving one step closer to eventually crawling and walking.  We are so grateful for the Brazos Valley Team’s help through the Easter SealsECI Program, as they have set Rose up for great success as she continues to grow and develop.  And having these services provided in our home has been extremely important for Rose, allowing her to work with Lacy and Jana in a familiar place.  Coming from years of neglect in a foreign institution has made Rose very fearful of unfamiliar surroundings, and very easily overstimulated by new people and places.  So having Lacy and Jana come to our home was vital to her success.  We will be forever grateful to Easter Seals Greater Houston / ECI for beginning Rose’s journey of healing and development in such an amazing way, and we will the team so very much.

Rose’s Mom

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Spring has Sprung

spring tcs

It’s Spring – Let’s find flowers and bugs!

The Caroline School is studying flowers and insects. We love hands-on learning, going on bug hunts, learning about life cycles, and watching things grow.

Check us out Here!

 

Tabitha Hernandez, Easter Seals Greater Houston, The Caroline School Director

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Lucky Strike!

I’m Emily Padora and I have been interning with Easter Seals Greater Houston for the past few months. I am supervised by Ashley Nichols, the Adult Program Director, which means I get the privilege of hanging out with these wonderful adults twice a week. Just last Saturday, I got to go bowling with a few of them! I expected it to be fun, as most things are with these guys, but it was more than just fun— it was heartwarming.IMG_1645.JPG

Each participant got their own lane, with accommodations based off their individual needs, to bowl for as long as their hearts desired until it was time to go. I loved seeing how happy just a simple game of bowling made the participants and enjoyed watching them make strikes, splits, or just celebrating hitting a pin. It was truly something else. I also got to speak with the mother and sister of two of our participants; they were sharing with me how much they appreciate what Easter Seals and the Adult Program has done for them and their family. The mother was almost in tears, expressing to me that most people outside of this organization and program don’t pay much attention to her boys. It makes me happy and proud to be working with an organization and program that promotes growth and encourages inclusion and individuality.

 

Thank you!

 

Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern

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Celebrating World Down Syndrome Day

1 in 762 people are born with Down syndrome and there are approximately 6,000 people with Down syndrome in greater Houston. Children and adults alike with Down syndrome are benefiting from our ECI, Caroline School, playgroups, BridgingApps, Adult Program and more. Here is just an example of one of our many success stories!

Adri’s journey continued on a smooth path as she made steady progress, gaining independence in all areas of development. Adri 1 She was eating a larger variety of foods (also receiving additional nutrition through her G-button), began walking independently, and using more words and phrases to communicate.  At 3 years old, Adri graduated from the Easter Seals ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) program, and transitioned easily into the PPCD (Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities) class with her local school district.

As most journeys hit challenges along the way, Adri’s journey took a terrifying turn.  In January 2018, Adri became very ill.  Her parents made two trips to the hospital ER one weekend, where she was diagnosed with “just a stomach virus”.  Her health did not improve.  When at her pediatrician’s office on Monday, Adri’s left arm began jerking.  Suspecting she was having seizures, Adri was transported by ambulance, for her third trip to the ER.  After given numerous tests, and losing the ability to lift her left arm, Adri was taken, by ambulance, to UTMB.  The EEG and MRI indicated no seizures, but her fever continued, and her condition worsened.  Since no neurologist was on-site, Texas Children’s Hospital sent their ambulance to pick her up.  Adri was intubated before she left in that ambulance.  Once she arrived at Texas Children’s, Adri was taken straight to the ICU.

After multiple tests, on January 25th, the test results showed Adri had Adenol virus which “mimics” the flu.  Children with Down Syndrome may have weakened immune systems, and Adri became susceptible to the virus.  The Adenol virus triggered Moya Moya, a common, though not frequent, underlying condition sometimes present with Down Syndrome.Adri 3  Moya Moya caused progressing restricted blood flow to the brain, depriving certain areas of the brain of oxygen and glucose.  The MRA and MRB tests revealed Adri suffered a massive stroke to the right side of her brain.  Adri lost the use of her left side of her body – she was unable to use her left leg, left arm, and left hand.  Her speech was also affected.  Adri began rehab therapy, to regain strength, and use of the left side of her body.  During her month-long stay at Texas Children’s Hospital, Adri also had brain surgery on February 19th.  The neurosurgeon tried to create new blood vessels on the right side of her brain.  Her parents endured this traumatic time through their faith, and support from family and friends. As her mom stated, “We had a lot of people praying for her.”  Adri was discharged on March 8th.  In order to regain her strength, and focus on recovery from her stroke, Adri stayed home from school and began receiving out-patient therapy.  She had OT (Occupational Therapy) and Speech Therapy two times per week, and PT (Physical Therapy) one time per week.

Last August, with the start of a new school year, Adri began the next phase of her journey.  Today, she walks independently again (with a slight drag of her left foot), feeds herself a variety of food (still receiving additional nutrition from her G-button with 4 feedings a day),  uses 3-4 word sentences to communicate what she wants, uses her left hand as a “helper hand”, and knows her letters, most shapes and colors, and counts to 20.  Her dad commented Adri has had a strong will, even from birth, and is “feisty”, which helped her recover.  She has surprised her therapists with how well she is doing.  Adri attends PPCD Monday through Friday from 8:25-11:55 am, and receives out-patient therapy two times per week.  Mom reported Adri loves riding the bus home from school, and enjoys “tooting the horn” to let mom know she’s home.  Adri loves to sing, dance, and watch YouTube videos.  Her mom added she’s “very funny”.  Adri has fun with hats, dressing up, and looking in the mirror.  She comes up with new words and sentences every day.  Adri greets people, says what she wants, and still gives amazing hugs!  On her last brain angiogram in the Fall of 2018, the neurosurgeon stated the brain image now shows “no stroke”, and the medical team can’t explain it.

When requested to look back where their journey began, Adri’s dad reflected on their family’s time with the Easter Seals Infant / ECI program:

     To really come home with a child with Down syndrome….well, one of the most unexpected things in our lives.  We all cried.  To receive help from Easter Seals Infant Program was great!  Really was a tremendous help.  At first, we thought we were all alone with this.  The ECI staff became like family.  They didn’t just do their sessions.  They listened to what we needed.  Therapists recommended what Adri needed, then helped us resource it.  We really miss them.  They were a big time help with her progress and almost entirely the reason Adri was school-ready for PPCD. Adri 2

Adri’s dad said he wanted to offer this advice to parents of children with Down syndrome:  “Pack your patience.  Really take time to get to know your child.”  That is sound advice for parents of all children.  Adri’s parents’ high expectations for Adri have enabled her to progress in her development, recover from a massive stroke, and look forward to the next steps of her continuing journey.

Sharon Mott, EIS/Transition and Outreach Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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