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!
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.
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.
Emily Padora, Easter Seals Greater Houston Intern
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. 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. 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.
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’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
“My experience with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) through Easter Seals Greater Houston has been extraordinary. The staff has been exceptional. I’ve always felt that Charles’ success has been important to them from my first meeting with Sarah his coordinator with ESGH. She would inform me of anything she felt could benefit Charles beyond therapy services. Every therapist that Charles has had seemed to take a special interest in him. Although I knew they had other clients and all the children were important, they just had a way of making you feel special. They have been committed to his growth potential and meeting his established goals. They take the time to listen to my concerns and would find ways to help me rectify them, even when it was regarding how the therapy was being done. I’ve been able to trust this group with the care of my son. When he would whine through therapy, I knew that they weren’t going to do anything that would hurt him. I’ve never had a session in which I’ve felt Charles was just another kid they had to see doing a repetitive job as robots. That’s care you can’t pay enough for. Having a special needs child has been challenging and rewarding. I truly feel that with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI program, I’ve had a team to help me give my son the best start and get him on a road to success.”
Shalemeiko Freeman, Mother of Charles
“It’s hard to believe that our camps for the Spring of 2019 are over! We have had such a blast these past couple of months at camp. This Spring, Easter Seals has hosted two wonderful weekend camps at Camp For All. We kicked off the New Year by running our second session of First Light Family Camp, a weekend retreat for veterans and their families! Though this camp was held in late January, we had beautiful and sunny weather all weekend long. Ten families joined in on the fun; we arrived on Friday night for dinner and had a campfire at dark- complete with s’mores and sing-a-long songs! Saturday was jam-packed with fun activities; we were able to participate in cast fishing, horses and barnyard, and even got to dress up in the costume closet and have a fashion show! Throughout the weekend, we broke into small groups to discuss stress relief/management, coping mechanisms, and even got to do some relaxation yoga! It was a fun adventure for our families to join us at camp for the first time!
We hosted our Spring session of Camp M.O.S.T. (Miles of Smiles for Teens) earlier this February! As always, camp was a blast! It was a fun reunion for campers and volunteers from the fall to get together again! The weather for this session of camp was chillier than usual, but our group braved the cold to participate in all the awesome activities camp has to offer. This session of Camp M.O.S.T. was Olympic themed, and everyone got in on the fun and light-hearted competition. During the weekend, we broke up into four teams; each team got their chance to compete in the Olympic events, ranging from “Counselor Curling” to a donut eating competition. The weekend also included some educational and inspiring Jam Sessions- where campers were able to work on skills such as advocacy, education, and other skills. Throughout the weekend, we were inspired by various videos and interviews with awesome Paralympic athletes! On Sunday, we had to say goodbye during our closing ceremony, but we are so excited for our next session of camp in the fall!”
Kenzie Richard, Camps Program Coordinator, Easter Seals Greater Houston
For the past seven years, Entergy Texas customer Melissa Delgado of Conroe has participated in Entergy’s Super Tax Day events to get her taxes done for free. It is one of many events held as part of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program – a program sponsored in part by Entergy.
At roughly $300 per year, Delgado has saved more than $2,100 – money she would have had to pay to a tax preparation company. That savings, along with what she gets back on her taxes through the Earned Income Tax Credit, really adds up for her family.
“We found out about this program from a couple at our church seven years ago, and we’ve been coming ever since,” she said. “We were paying so much money. It was such a blessing and still is.”
Meanwhile, a young woman named Ashley returned to get her taxes done for a second year – a year after tax volunteer Carmen Phillips with Easter Seals Houston‘s Housing and Financial Literacy Program gave her a packet of financial education materials that taught her how to create a budget and track her expenses.
“After last year’s event we spoke a couple times via phone, but I did not hear from her again until she walked up to my table,” explained Phillips, who works for Easter Seals of Greater Houston. “She immediately recognized me and told us that because of that packet and our discussions in 2017, she worked hard all year sticking to her budget worksheets and tracking her spending – so much so that she was able to purchase her first home!
“I have to say I was both speechless and blown away by her sincerity and candor,” she said. “I was so pleased to learn that the brief education and information received through a Super Tax Day event could have such a profound effect on a client!”
Since 2011, Entergy has been sponsoring VITA sites in all five of its operating companies – Entergy Texas, Entergy Louisiana, Entergy New Orleans, Entergy Arkansas and Entergy Mississippi. Of more than 111,125 tax returns filed, customers have gotten back near $200 million in refunds.
In Texas alone, more than 8,200 tax returns have been filed, with customers getting back more than $11.5 million in refunds.
Pictured above: Entergy Texas President and CEO Sallie Rainer (left) visits with Senior Customer Service Specialist Paula Odom of Entergy Texas Public Affairs and Entergy customer Melissa Delgado.
The following post was written by the parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program client who receives services in the Brazos Valley.
We’d like to explain what Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Brazos Valley Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has meant to us, our lives, and more than anything, our daughter. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has transformed the behavior of our daughter in a positive manner through the weekly therapy sessions. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Infant Program came into our lives to help us and have been the perfect tool to help our daughter with speech/language & behavior therapy.
When our daughter turned 2 years of age, her pediatrician led us to Easter Seals Greater Houston because there was a delay in in her speech. Easter Seals’ ECI Infant Program staff members came and ran a full evaluation and afterwards we started the therapy sessions with no clue how incredibly helpful they would be to our child. As the months passed on we noticed great changes in our daughter’s speech/language and in her behavior. Before the therapy sessions she hardly paid attention, but by making this a key area of focus we have seen great, positive improvements in this area and others. We started to work hand in hand with the therapists in our parental role. All the dedicated time was well worth all the positive changes we see in our daughter today. The Brazos Valley ECI Infant Program therapists have not only helped us with the problem areas, but understand why and how they came to be, all the while treating us with respect. We are appreciative as parents for not only the treatments, but the care and effort to reach all goals with her. As of today, our daughter’s vocabulary has increased substantially, she makes basic sentences, pays (more) attention, has calmed down overall, and our entire family has noticed the progress that our daughter has made since she began working with our therapists.
We appreciate Easter Seals Greater Houston from the bottom of our heart, the beautiful work and care for all the families with whom you work with, starting with ours. The Brazos Valley ECI Infant Program staff have gone above and beyond for the well-being of our daughter. Thanks to Easter Seals our lives have changed for the better.
Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program has expanded and is now available in 12 counties. If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, please call 713.838.9050, ext. 385 and request a free developmental assessment.