Tag Archives: independence

Striving Sisters

“Both of my daughters were referred to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program for physical therapy from their Orthopedic surgeon following surgeries, casting, and bracing for both girls to correct bilateral club foot. “A” and “E” have made tremendous progress reaching their developmental milestones with the help of their ECI therapists and service coordinator over the last year. The physical therapist has helped to show me activities to strengthen their ankles and feet and both “A” and “E” are so motivated during sessions. At 14 months age adjusted, “A” started taking her first independent steps this month and now she’s walking everywhere! “E” is very close to walking on her own, she is walking with little help and her push toy, and she is so motivated to stand and look at her favorite books. I am so proud of how strong both girls are and am excited to see how they continue to grow and learn with the help of Easter Seals Greater Houston ECI.”

-“A” and “E” mom 

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. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program!

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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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Fitting Independence in the Budget

When Easter Seals Greater Houston Housing and Financial Coach Carmen Phillips first met “C”, she was transitioning out of homelessness and back into her first apartment.  Due to her disability and low wages, C has always needed a roommate in order to afford housing.  Unfortunately, depending on a roommate to fulfill their half of the obligations proved detrimental to C’s financial stability and left her homeless yet again.  After several months of homelessness, she eventually managed to find a new roommate she had met at the local shelter and they got a new apartment. Despite some of C’s objections about saving money, she and Carmen continued to work together to build up her savings account just in case she found herself in a similar position in the future.  Because she receives disability and works part-time, it was hard for her to rationalize why she needed so much money in her savings account, since her disability was guaranteed.  Well, fast-forward to COVID-19.  Unfortunately, C was laid off from her part-time job and the very same month, her disability benefits were suspended due to some type of error regarding her wages.  She was now stuck in an apartment lease with zero income.  Fortunately, she had her savings to fall back on until her disability benefits were re-instated.  Throughout the pandemic, with the help of her stimulus checks and her unemployment, C managed to pay her rent, pay off her credit cards and build her savings up to $17,000. 

However, shortly thereafter, C’s roommate left unexpectedly, leaving her stranded with a 2 bedroom apartment and bills to pay. Fortunately, she had her savings account and decided to make a drastic move.  She took a portion of her savings and purchased a 5th Wheel Travel Trailer in order to have a home of her own.  C now owns her own place, does not have to depend on a roommate to split housing costs, pays less renting her RV spot than her apartment and has drastically lowered her electric bill, all while retaining $5,000 in her savings account.  C hopes to eventually save up her cash and purchase a small lot in order to completely eliminate paying monthly rent to anyone.

Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s free resources for Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits. Our agency also has programs for Veterans, Service Members, and Military-Connected Families here.

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Transition and Employment in the Pandemic

2020 has been anything but usual for the adolescents and adults Easter Seals Greater Houston serves and it has certainly been different for our staff. We have learned to provide services remotely and to help both job seekers and employers adapt to the changing circumstances in which people work and supervise the people who work in their companies.

In March, COVID-19 halted in-person services for high school students in our summer program which, after a two month hiatus, returned as remote services. Our staff, Robert Aranda, Ron Taylor, and Jacquie Privitera, had to figure out how to make lessons interesting and engaging for the students while meeting the requirements of the Texas Workforce Commission, the sponsors of the program. Our students and staff designed a commercial for a network consulting firm and then presented that commercial to a panel of judges from local corporations. All of this was done remotely, including a job performed, for pay, by one of our students for the networking company, Sepulveda Technology Consultants.

Job seekers, and the companies that employ them, have also had to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. Early in the pandemic, a group of young men with autism, who were completing internships in the IT Department for Chevron, had to adjust to working from home. Despite the stereotype of persons with autism preferring solitude, these men had a difficult time adjusting to not being with their supervisors and coworkers. Their Employment Specialist, Robert Aranda, had to switch from providing face to face services to making contact only by telephone. After many sessions between Robert and the employees and supervisors, all four of the interns were offered permanent positions at Chevron. They still hold their positions and are successfully working remotely today.

For some workers, going to work in an office or warehouse is not possible because of medical issues or mental illness. Ron Taylor, one of our Employment Specialists, worked remotely for several months with a person with severe back pain, searching for the right opportunity. They found a position with Walgreens that let her work from home. Ron worked with our partners at Texas Workforce Solutions to procure a chair and desk that would support her back and let her work. As her personal computer was not suitable for her job, Ron arranged for a donated computer to be made available until she can purchase her own laptop. She is now working from home, processing orders for Walgreens and is on her way to having the funds to purchase her own computer.

Robert Williams, Easter Seals Greater Houston,
Program Director – Employment/Transition Services

Easter Seals Greater Houston provides Transition Services for youth ages 16-27 with autism and mental health conditions. Services include transition evaluation and planning, social skills training, family and community resources and goals which reflect the youth’s realizable aspirations in areas of education or work, peer supports, job placement, job coaching and supported employment. Learn more.

High School/High Tech is a community-based partnership of parents, educators, rehabilitation professionals and business representatives working together to encourage students with disabilities to explore the fields of science, engineering and technology. High School/High Tech also offers a mentoring program called RAMP – Ready to Achieve Mentor Program. Learn more.

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“Running” In the Right Direction

We had the privilege of joining Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program in December 2019. My daughter was around 13-months-old and was unable to sit up, feed herself, or communicate at all. Her pediatrician was concerned about her lack of progress and recommended that I look into Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Easter Seals immediately got me in for an evaluation and promptly had me set up with a case worker named Sarah Summers that works in the Infant Program. Based on our income we were given the general cost for her therapies (before insurance). I cannot emphasize enough how relieved we were to hear this! We now knew the price it would cost, instead of dreading a bunch of medical bills piling up. Together, we decided she needed 5 different therapies/therapists to guide us as to what to do to help our daughter. Each time we saw one of her therapists they came up with new exercises for us to practice with her until we saw that therapist again. We immediately started seeing results! Over the next six months she had progressed in all levels. We actually started to not need some of the therapies/therapists because they had done an amazing job and she was no longer struggling in that area. Our biggest area of concern, when starting the program, was her lack of movement. Once we started working with Easter Seals ECI Program she was able to sit up within a month, crawling in 2-3 months, and by 6 months was able to walk. This is beyond what we could have expected!

Currently, my daughter is speaking and understanding all sorts of words and phrases. She feeds herself at every meal and is basically “running” to keep up with her big brother. Without Easter Seals ECI Program none of this would have been possible. For us as parents, we were at a loss as to what to do to help our child. Easter Seals helped guide us in very specific ways to get her moving in the right direction and I am so grateful to have been a part of this wonderful program.      

-Lindsay F

Tracking your child’s development can be difficult for the most attentive parent. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program is still providing all services via tele-therapy including evaluations. Call Alicia at 713.838.9050 ext. 385 to schedule a free evaluation and to check on your child’s milestones.

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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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Intensive Therapy, Incredible Results

image1The following was written by the mother of one of our beloved clients that has participated and thrived in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program.

My daughter, Aubrey, is six years old and has a very rare and recently diagnosed neurological disease (DNM1 Gene Mutation). She has been enrolled in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program for two years. We were introduced to Easter Seals Greater Houston through the Intensive Physical Therapy program. Before we started attending therapy, Aubrey could not sit unattended for more than a minute and she could not bear weight on her legs. After working with her physical therapist, Melissa Dafler, multiple days a week for multiple hours a day Aubrey made phenomenal progress. Melissa worked with Aubrey using the Therasuit technique. Aubrey can now maintain weight on her legs and she can take steps with assistance. She can also sit on her own for as long as an hour. We have continued weekly physical therapy and added occupational and speech therapy to Aubrey’s schedule.

image3The Easter Seals Greater Houston staff has helped Aubrey grow and develop in ways that we may have thought impossible five years ago. Aubrey’s doctors and teachers have been amazed with Aubrey’s progress and we attribute her success to the skilled and professional staff at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy services. We look forward to all the growth she will continue to experience with the care and expertise of Easter Seals’ physical, occupational and speech therapists.

Angela, Children’s Therapy Program client parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Easter Seals’ Children’s Therapy Program is designed to help children live, learn, work and play through our physical, occupational and speech therapy services. Each of it’s dedicated therapists has specialized training and experience in working with children to promote growth and development. The goal of the program is to allow the child to be as independent as possible and participate in family, school, and community activities. Children’s Therapy Program believes in and practices family inclusion in therapy so that our parents can translate more therapy into their daily living when they are not with us. We help children PLAY! To refer a child, or for further information, please email us at therapy@eastersealshouston.org or call 713-838-9050 ext. 381.

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Angels on Earth

The following letter was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention Program client. Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program helps children ages birth to 36 months with disabilities and developmental delays achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development.

Good morning,

My name is Camille and my son Justus was a client of the ECI program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

The team of Ms. Phyllis, Ms. Frances, Ms. Nicole,Justus ECI Blog Photo Ms. Atra, Mr. Jesus, Ms. Jennifer, Ms. Christy, Mr. Ben. Ms. Thien and Ms. Chelsea went above and beyond. The impact that their professionalism and care of my son while he was in the program cannot adequately be expressed in words. Justus’ ability to walk, to speak, to feed himself, to comprehend simple commands, even to socialize with others is a direct reflection of the efforts of the team assigned to him and I could not have been more blessed to have interacted with them – a blessing truly.

Justus is now going through the process of getting screened by Lamar  Consolidated ISD. The persons conducting the evaluation are very pleased by what he demonstrates and they attribute his increased abilities to the great care provided by the Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention team in which he was under.

Please pass this thank you on to them and let them know how much they mean to the clients they serve. I do not have any resources to adequately thank them for all that they did for Justus and myself. If there is an award or a recognition, please put each of them in for it – they all truly deserve it for they are God’s angels serving on earth today.

Thank you and have a great day!

Camille, Early Childhood Intervention Program client parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Adult Program Gives Participant Sense of Pride

Meet one of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s awesome young adult clients. Every week she participates in our Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities (LEAD) Young Adult Day Program. During the LEAD Young Adult Day Program this non-verbal woman with autism, along with other participants blog2ages 18 to 30, partakes in activities focused on enriching life skills and social skills as well as fun recreational activities. During LEAD, we incorporate her communication device as much as possible; while the rest of the time, we speak to each other through eye contact and gestures. Her mom continually says that this is the only place where she feels comfortable enough to leave her daughter.

We love to see how being in the LEAD program has enriched our participants’blog1 lives. For example, this young woman loves to have things in their place, such as, crayons cannot have wrappers on them, water cannot sit in a cup for too long, and shoes come off as soon as it is allowed. One day during Easter Seals Greater Houston’s LEAD at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, we made hats (seen in picture) and instead of ripping off the decorations as soon as she got home, she put it on her head and paraded it around. We provided her the opportunity to create something (with a hot glue gun, I might add) that gave her a sense of pride and independence. This hat was made last year and I am told it sits on her dresser, with every ball, flower, and sequence still intact.

We are proud of all of the growth that our Adults experience by attending Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Life Enrichment for Adults with Disabilities Day Program. We have two Adult Day Program groups, ages 18-30 and another ages 30 and up. We also serve our clients through a variety of other services. Please reach out to Lindsey Holton at LHolton@eastersealshouston.org for more information on how you and your loved ones can get involved!

Easter Seals Greater Houston, Adult Programs

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