Tag Archives: nutrition

Thriving, Sassy and Healthy!

The following blog was written by a parent of two daughters in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program:

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program has been extremely beneficial and rewarding for my children. My 2-year-old daughter started doing therapy with ECI when she was 7 months old. She couldn’t walk, talk or even roll over very well and she wasn’t sitting up at all.

Today, she is a THRIVING, SASSY, and very HEALTHY 2-year-old that can do almost everything the doctors said she would struggle doing. Her progress is definitely thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston!! I am so thankful for her team of ECI therapists and the time and dedication they have put into making sure my KaMaya and her little sister Kamoura are at their very best.

Kamoura does physical therapy with ECI as well and has come a long way. Even though we are working on posture and walking, I have confidence that over the next few months, she will also be above and beyond what the doctors doubts she could do.

We have definitely enjoyed the relationships that have been built between my kids and their ECI therapists. I have appreciated the kindness and understanding that is always shown to my family, especially during the COVID19 pandemic. We are looking forward to seeing more progress with our girls in the next few months! God bless you all!

Special thanks to KaMaya and Kamoura’s ECI Team: Early Intervention Specialist Sarah Summers, Physical Therapist Ms. Charisse, Occupational Therapists Ms. Shama and Ms. Christy, SST teacher Ms. Kim, Nutritionist Ms. Tien, and Speech therapist Ms. Gretchen.

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.  Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention is accepting referrals and offers tele-health as well as in-home services. Learn more!

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Hand in Hand Therapies

The following was written by a parent of an Early Childhood Intervention client to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Director.

Hello I am the parent of “Z” who has been in the Easter Seals Greater Houston’s program about year and half now. Just to provide you with a little background of this little fellow. “Z” has faced with many challenges in his year and half-life but he is a true solider and overcoming slowly.  “Z” was referred by his Pediatrician to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Program, because of torticollis at the age of 5 months. He is now 20 months; and he still deals with his “head tilt” from time to time. He was assigned to Melissa for Physical Therapy and from his assessment it indicated he had some developmental delays.  He showed unbelievable progress while working with Melissa over a year and half, which has eased some of my trying times with my little one. “Z” is currently working with several ESGH ECI Therapists

Melissa has been providing therapy with my “Z” the longest and has been a great observer and excellent Physical Therapist provider. Melissa has suggested many things that she felt would help my son such as sensory activities, compression clothes, compression vest for tip-toeing, Wilbarger Brushing for sensory; all of which is helping with my son’s progress. She also suggested I speak with Jinelle about referring my son to Occupational Therapy for behavior issues that stem from sensory input along with Speech Therapy to continue meeting his milestones. Melissa also helped with sending me educational materials, head-tilt strengthening techniques, and showed me strategies to implement daily to help my son with crawling and walking. Most importantly, she educated me on how the 5 stages of developmental milestones are reached and how some delays affect the next milestones when they are not met. Not only allowing me to know that my son is progressing but also in addressing my pediatrician.

The reason for this letter is to let you know how wonderful your team at Easter Seals has been to my family and most importantly to my son “Z”.   I have so much gratitude to Easter Seals and this team of ladies that words can’t explain. Jinelle (Case manager), Thein (Nutritionist), Melissa (PT), Dionise (OT), and Michelle (Speech) are a blessing. This village of a team has improved my son’s ability to function and adapt to the daily challenges he faces with delayed milestones, sensory and speech issues.

Working with the team of therapists, I have learned how all the milestones overlap/connect and how all the therapist’s roles are important, different and needed. Learning from the therapists allowed me to help my son to the fullest. Their knowledge on food selection, hands on activities techniques and being flexible with my work schedule do not go unnoticed. They all love their work, the children they serve, and they are very compassionate to parents concerns and feeling. When times were overwhelming for us, the therapists provide a listening ear while staying professional and never crossing boundaries. It felt good as a parent to have this village of professionals ease my emotions.

This team has been around since day one with my son.  Jinelle has been a great case manager by providing helpful resources, connecting me to the appropriate specialists, providing me access to the weighted vest and sensory brush, and by being able to address other issues.  Jinelle is the glue that holds this team together and the person making sure services are on time.  Thein is awesome for making sure my child has the right nutrients and is staying on track with a healthy diet and weight gain.  She suggests food selections and fluid consumptions for “Z” to help with being underweight, and helps with mapping out mealtime scheduling suggestion for home and daycare.

Dionise and Michelle are new specialists incorporated to “Z”’s treatment services for the past 3 months. Mostly virtual due to #StayAtHome. They were recently able to see “Z” in person for the first time.  The total team is a completion of comfort. The comfort that my child will be able to thrive, and has the potential to maintain and overcome many of the behaviors that have led to sensory overloads and speech delays.  Everything goes hand in hand.  Sensory needs to be under control so “Z” can succeed in his vocabulary words, which will help him in talking and we have incorporated sensory bins into daily life, and pretend play with stuffed animals to help “Z” communicate with non-verbal and verbal cues to extend his communication. We started with 10 words and currently working towards 25 and more.

“Z” has come a long way – we are moving in the right direction but still have work to do.  “Z” took to Dionise the first time he saw her on zoom and even in person so much that he didn’t want her to leave. It was so funny that as we walked her to the door – he was waving bye to ME!  Together we are also working with my son on behavior techniques – less screen time, incorporating compression clothing all day, and weighted vest/blanketed. This team is compassionate, caring, flexible and dedicated to their line of work by providing exceptional hands on/Zoom support through teaching and providing me the knowledge to continue to work with my son through this challenging time.

Since the pandemic and throughout treatment, my son experiences some regression in each individual session but with the help of all therapist working together and keeping each other in the loop, my son has improved meeting milestones. These ladies are not just doing their job they are taking the initiative to go above and beyond for the families they serve while still following protocols of the company.

Without this Easter Seals team and the ECI program, I’m not sure where my son would be. On behalf of my family Thank You!  

Z’s Mom

Early Childhood Intervention services are available to children from birth to three (3) years old that show developmental delay, at risk for delay, or have a disability. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Program today.

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Celebrating Warrior Princess Ava

Ava spent the first 63 days of her life in the NICU, as a little heart warrior, fighting for her life. Today, Ava is an adorable little princess, delighting everyone with her sweet smile. This story is a celebration of her victory over those first battles, and the battles she continues to face.

At five months pregnant, Ava’s mom, Mikki, learned Ava had a congenital heart defect (CHD).  Two weeks later, Mikki found that the heart condition was much more severe than initially thought.  When taking a class about her daughter’s upcoming stay in the NICU, Mikki’s water broke.  She spent the next 32 days in the hospital, on bedrest, until Ava was born at 33 weeks.  The cause of her heart defect was determined at about one week old. Ava was diagnosed with 22.q.11 chromosome deletion (DiGeorge Syndrome), “the most common, uncommon syndrome”.  Ava struggled with feeding and sleeping issues, as she fought to gain enough weight to have her first heart surgery at one month old.  Ava continued to deal with feeding and sleeping concerns, trying to gain weight, for another month after her surgery.  At 2 months old, Ava was discharged to go home.  Staff from the hospital gave her mom a pamphlet about ECI (Early Childhood Intervention), which Mikki dismissed at first.

Ava’s first few months at home were a difficult physical and mental adjustment for her whole family.  An autoimmune condition was revealed, which meant Ava was not strong enough to receive immunizations, and needed to be separated from her 3-year-old sister. Her pediatrician also followed up on the hospital’s suggestion, and recommended ECI. At six months old, Easter Seals Greater Houston started providing ECI services.  Ava received PT (Physical Therapy), OT (Occupational Therapy), SST (Specialized Skills Training), and Case Management. Nutrition was added for two months due to Ava needing to gain weight for a second surgery, which Ava was able to have at 8 months old.  Even though the surgery was considered “a full repair”, she will need more surgeries when she’s older, as her heart grows, for maintenance and additional repairs.  According to her mom, after the second surgery, “we came home with a new baby”. Ava had more energy, and overcame her eating and sleeping struggles. With her new-found energy and ECI’s therapy sessions, “everything fell into place”.

Ava started to crawl at one year old and mom states, “she was the fastest crawling baby I ever saw in my life”. She walked at 25 months old and developed her hand (fine motor) skills. Aided by SMOs (Supra-malleolar orthosis), which give her stability needed as a late walker, Ava now runs!  Ava communicates by pointing, showing what she wants, and using about 30 signs. “Ava has no problem getting her needs known. She’s following her own road, doing milestones in the right progression.” In the fall, Ava will attend the PPCD class with Montgomery ISD, and continue to receive PT and OT services, as well as adding Speech Therapy services from Easter Seals ECI Program.

When asked about how Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention helped, Mikki reported: “I didn’t know what to do before ECI.  They guided me through her condition and what needed to be done first.  Every therapy was building on what needed to happen next.  ECI also encouraged her big sister to participate.  The therapists gave ideas on how to incorporate the two girls to do daily activities together, and how to make one-on-one time with her big sister.  I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Her mom added: “Thinking that Ava would need therapy was hard for me to accept, but God gave me this child, and it was my job to give her what she needed to be successful.  Ava’s an amazing, sweet little girl, who has taught me so much.  They call heart babies ‘heart warriors’ because they fight battles they don’t even know they have to fight.”  Ava truly is, the perfect combination of warrior and princess.

It has now been four months of #StayAtHome.  That is around the same amount of time your baby/toddler reaches new milestones. Are you keeping a checklist? Are you watching for the next great milestone reached?  Your baby, who might have been five months at the start of #StayAtHome, now at nine months should be standing while holding on, can get into sitting position, sits without support, pulls to stand and crawls.  

Learn more about our Make The First Five Count Campaign and how to ensure your child is meeting their milestones.

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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Healthy Eating Habits for Your Baby

Our goal at Easter Seals Greater Houston is to ensure that our clients and their families have all the tools they need have a healthy family and children, to meet their needs, and goals to secure a financially stable future.

Our Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) Infant Program therapists and nutritionists want to make sure you have the information necessary to meet those goals.

Goal #1 – Is to promote healthy eating and activity for families.  When family members feel better through healthy eating, they act, sleep, study and work together better. They also meet their milestones, learn more and have lots more fun! Healthy eating and activities are both important in helping your child reach their milestones.

ECI Nutrition Toddler Portion Sizes ECIBelow is an example of the appropriate portions for a one-year-old to consume every day:

Grains – 2 ounces
Fruits – 1 cup
Vegetables – ¾ cup
Protein – 1 ½ ounces
Dairy – 2 cups

Read more about Toddler Portion Sizes.

Goal #2 – Is to make sure your baby is meeting their milestones. Consider an evaluation for your baby or toddler with our ECI Program (0-36 months). Our outstanding ECI team wants to help your baby achieve their goals in cognitive, social/emotional, communicative, adaptive and physical development.  Learn more about our Early Childhood Intervention Program.

Goal #3 – Is to help families get back on the right track and back on their feet. SNAP is just one of the many programs that we can help you sign-up.

SNAP Benefits – The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) helps individuals and families buy the food they need for good health. Every month SNAP benefits are loaded onto an electronic card, called an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) that is used like a debit card.

Goal #4 – Is to connect our families to other ways Easter Seals Greater Houston’s many programs and services can help. Learn more about our Free Financial Education, Homebuyer Education Services & Public Benefits.

If you have concerns or questions about your child’s development, please call us at 713.838.9050, ext. 385 and request a free developmental assessment. Learn more about Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program today.

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