Tag Archives: disability

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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Care You Can’t Pay Enough For

ECI central blog pic

“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

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Let the Camps Begin

“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

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The Unexpected Journey

“When Bellemere was first born, as excited parents welcoming our second child, we never would have imagined the journey we would be faced with upon her arrival. After a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, countless specialists and doctors visits, we finally learned we were blessed with a child who has CHARGE syndrome. Bellemere was first born ECI extra pic.docxWith time, we found out Bellemere was deaf, her physical strength would be delayed and she is a silent aspirator which means she could take no food or liquid by mouth due to choking risks. Bellemere had a MickeyTube placed so she could get her nutrition through a tube in her stomach.

Our family was introduced to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) program  after one of many hospital stays. Aliza was our case manager and she guided us along the way. With the help of Anita (physical therapist), Britni (Early Intervention Specialist), Elena (Occupational Therapist), and Brenda (Speech Therapist), we were taken through the next steps in Belle’s journey until she turned 3 years old. These therapists came to our house weekly to work with us which was crucial in limiting her exposure to germs. With their help, guidance and patience, Bellemere has mastered crawling, cruising on her feet while holding on to things, and walking with the assistance of a walker. She is also now able to feed herself pureed foods (something we never thought we would see her do), communicate using sign language, use her fingers to grasp small objects and many other skills that are necessary for her daily life. Also after discovering that Belle was deaf, our Easter Seals ECI case manager connected us with AI services, which supplied us with a deaf education teacher who also came to our home to work with us.

Not only was this amazing group of ladies able to help us with Bellemere’s development, they also helped prepare us for transitioning to the school district by her 3rd birthday. We will forever be grateful to ECI and these therapists who came into our home to help our sweet Bellemere succeed. I highly encourage any parent to contact ECI if they feel their child needs any assistance with their development. Thank you ECI of Easter Seals!!”

Krishna Hernandez, mother of Bellemere

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Recovering Together

Camp Discovery – named by putting the words Disaster and Recovery together – served families affected by Harvey and participating in counseling services through our Harvey Case Management Program.  It was a wonderful weekend retreat!  The families participated in typical camp activities like archery, horseback riding, nature, and a ropes course, as well as “team huddles” – mental health-focused break-out sessions for parents, teens, big kids, and little kids.

Harvey blog 3.JPGCamp Discovery was just one mental health support service made possible by the grants from Americares, Save the Children, and the Houston Harvey Relief Fund.  Through these grants, our team of case managers, mental health clinicians, financial stability coaches, and technology experts – impacted over 3000 families affected by Hurricane Harvey.

In late October a team of Easter Seals staff and volunteers hosted and facilitated a camp for families impacted by Hurricane Harvey at Camp For All.  Since then we have continued to serve people with disabilities and veterans through Harvey recovery and are proud to be a recipient of continued funding from The Mayor’s Fund and Enterprise / Heart so that we can continue in our efforts through housing assistance now. The experiences and memories made were more than words can describe. I will try my best to express what I witnessed and the successes I saw. Most of the families that attended our Camp Discovery shared that this was their first time having an experience like this, all together as a family unit, away from electronics, and in tune with the elements. Many shared that they were able to try things that they had never done before such as fishing, canoeing, zip-lining, horseback riding, and being able to interact and learn about new animals.harvey blog

There was awe and surprise from the very beginning.  When one family saw the retreat that would be their home for the weekend, one boy said, “This is the nicest place we’ve ever stayed!”  And the shyness of the families with each other dissipated very quickly.  By the close of the first night, just hours after having met, they were dancing together and enjoying s’mores around the campfire.

We had several little ones try out the tall rock climbing wall to later zip-line down. Two of our participants got “stuck” near the top of their goal and were ready to give up. Tears were shed and panic set in a bit as the goal to reach the top seemed unachievable and scary so high up from the ground. One mother became concerned but with support from the mental health team was able to turn her panic into words of encouragement. The mother, alongside the other campers, cheered on Jeffery and provided guidance on stabilizing his footing so that he could pull himself up to the ledge. Jeffery was successful and enthusiastically moved on to the next challenge- zip-lining back down.

One of our younger campers also struggled near the top of his rock wall experience, but he had climbed the wall alongside his mother and she was able to provide one on one support in the moment. The support staff watched in amazement at this mother’s immediate instinct to provide reassurance and support to our brave camper while also allowing him to do all the work to get himself up.

harvey blog 2Most of the weekend, I heard parents express how amazed they were about their children and their brave efforts to try out new things and face some of their fears.

The families shared how they surprised themselves with courage and willingness to try new things.

Many of the mothers commented that a win and success for the weekend was not having to cook while also enjoying all the activities with the family.

One mom, whose house had to be totally gutted, said that they had not put up any pictures yet.  She said the frames of family photos given at camp were going to be the very first frames they put up.

Another family reminded us that the camp experience brought back similar experiences from Harvey such as staying in a different place, eating food that was not “our own”, and adjusting to a different routine, but that camp opened the space to rewrite that story and make new fun memories with the family.

Erica Toskovich, LMFT, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Mental Health Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston 

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A Camp that Changed a Life

Hi All,

My name is Amanda Carter and I am a 2008 alumni of Easter Seals Greater Houston Camp Smiles Overnight Camp. I started attending Camp Smiles held at Camp For All in Brenham in the summer of 2001 after having attended Easter Seals Houston’s Camp Buckaroo day camp. After a little case of homesickness, I grew to love going to camp and the people I met while there. My favorite activity was the photography class I took every year it was offered where I became heavily involved in my current hobby of severe weather photography. I am still friends on Facebook with all of my camp “buddies,” without whom I could not have had nearly as much fun and laughed quite as hard. I also keep in touch with several of my fellow campers and they have become a great source of mentorship in regard to learning how to live independently.amanda

I landed in Lubbock with the help of my parents and full time staff of personal care attendants after earning my Psychology degree at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas. Going to Texas Tech has always been a huge dream and having an opportunity to go there to get my law degree was practically nerdy nirvana. Going to law school requires a huge emotional support system; going to law school from a power wheelchair requires an army. There were many challenges, including hiring and firing many attendants, calling Mom and Dad to fill those attendants gaps, and calling friends and sorority sisters to cry about those dreaded classes, that were part of that journey. To my relief I made it to May of 2018 and became the fourth generation in my family to graduate as a Red Raider.

Since that time, I’ve landed at Matthew Harris Law in Lubbock after passing the July 2018 Bar Exam. I am currently practicing Family Law but I simultaneously maintain an interest in Special Needs Wills and Trusts and generally helping those like me find their path towards financial and physical independence. MHL has made a donation in my honor to Easter Seals of Greater Houston and that is so special! We collectively strive to present a model of employer-employee relations as it relates to working with community of people with disabilities. I have felt so welcomed in the firm where I started as an intern. Now as an attorney, I have learned so much about the law and myself through the accommodation and acceptance of my coworkers. Being successful starts with who you surround yourself with and, more importantly, how you define it. Only your definition matters. I am so excited to see where your definition takes you! Guns Up!

Sincerely,

Amanda E. Carter, Esq.

Attorney at Law

matthew law

www.MatthewHarrisLaw.com

 

          

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No More Waiting for Help

The following post was written by the parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program client.

This is a testimonial on behalf of my son, who has been working with Tina, our ECI speech language pathologist at Easter Seals Greater Houston.               playtimeI cannot recommend her enough! My son was on the cusp of turning 2 years old and had only two words his vocabulary. I work in the field of special education as an assessment professional (however not in speech) and knew he was delayed. I was frustrated and distraught as a parent knowing that he needed help and not being able to get it for him. We went through surgery to put tubes in, and were put off by doctors for what seemed like forever waiting for the surgery, waiting to see if that corrected the problem, waiting on audiology appointments, etc. before I was finally able to get the referral to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Infant Development program.

Once Lawson was evaluated, Tina made sure to expedite his first session so she could see what “we were up against.” She has worked diligently to ensure we were able to get all of our sessions, and has been an incredible team player going to daycare and in our home so that we could ensure Lawson was generalizing his skills across all settings. In a manner of 2 months, Lawson is already trying to link together 2-3 words into phrases, is trying to communicate more, and is becoming less frustrated. While we have a lot of work left to go (as he still cannot say a lot and is far from intelligible), we would not even be where we are without Tina.

In addition, I work full time and cannot always be there for his speech sessions, Tina is an amazing teammate in that she will text me or call me after sessions to update me on his progress. While I may work, I care dearly about my son and want to know everything going on, she takes all the time I need to be involved and know what skills to work on during the interim periods between sessions. I could not sing her praises enough!

 

Lawson’s mom, Client Family, ESGH Infant Program/Liberty County

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