Tag Archives: Rehabiltation

Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month…not to mention National Mobility Awareness Month

Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility!

We are continuing to strive to improve and grow to be the best therapy practice we can be. With that mission in 2015 Children’s Therapy received Outpatient ctp mountainRehabilitation Facility status from Medicare and Medicaid of Texas with accreditation through the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc. We successfully underwent review of our standards of practice to maintain our accreditation. Advancement to facility status allows us to expand our client base to rehabilitation as well as habilitation therapy and to demonstrate to our stakeholders, community and physicians that we are functioning at the highest degree of standards of practice.

The goal of our practice is always to foster improvements in the lives of the children we serve and their families. Here is Michael’s story.

“Michael has been receiving services at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy for three years now.   When Michael started in the program, he could hardly speak more than a handful of words, was not able to walk up and down stairs & was unable to perform daily living activities such as bathing, dressing, etc. In just a three year time period all of that has dramatically changed.

Michael speaks in three and four word sentences now. This has been such a blessing to our family as it has greatly reduced his frustration from being unable to communicate. Whereas before, we had to guess what he might want for a snack and present different options until he said the word yes, he can now tell us. Michael has had wonderful speech therapists while at Easter Seals & his success is greatly attributable to their hard work & perseverance.

ctp cutie pieMichael was born with Hypertonia which means it is harder for him to do physical activities for a long period of time; his body gets tired more quickly.   When Michael first started physical therapy at Easter Seals he couldn’t take a step up onto a curb without holding on to someone’s hand. He now climbs up stairs on his own.   He is also able to participate in activities which involve a greater level of endurance. This has improved his ability to socialize and his overall quality of life.

Michael never received occupational therapy prior to starting therapy at Easter Seals Children’s Therapy. Things such as getting your own glass of water, bathing yourself & getting dressed independently are skills which as adults we take for granted. These however, have taken Michael significant effort to master & thanks to his occupational therapist he continues to become more independent and able to care for his basic daily needs.”

This is what we do at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Outpatient Rehabilitation Facility.

Mary Dawson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Program Director, Children’s Therapy


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Celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month and Make the First Five Count!

May Is Better Hearing and Speech Month and here are a few tips from the therapists at Easter Seals Greater Houston’s monkey communication pocChildren’s Therapy Program, obtained from the urbanchildinstitute.org to utilize when interacting with children to build language development.

Common play for babies includes peek-a-boo, singing and dancing, playing with different colored balls, and pushing buttons to make toys work. Through their play, they can develop language comprehension, communication skills, and eye-hand coordination. When parents respond and participate, children also gain a sense of their own self-worth from the pleasure they give their parents.

elephant exploring picToddlers take giant leaps in playing and learning. They learn to stand and walk, run and jump, play with more complex toys, and create worlds of make-believe. They learn numbers, shapes, and colors. Sharing books and games with parents builds close relationships as they discover the world together.  Toddlers begin to play together rather than just watching each other play. Through playing with others, they learn to share and to take turns. These are the years when their imaginations go wild. Toy brooms become horses, they pretend to be kings or queens, and they engage in pretend play with others. Play promotes creativity, language ability, self-control, and problem-solving skills.

cheetah moving picAt Easter Seals Children’s Therapy Program we use play as one of our many techniques to enhance the children’s language acquisition.  Parents are encouraged to participate and learn with their child as we “play” our way to improved language skills.

But, regardless of how old your child is, there is one fact that should never be forgotten: the most important thing about play is you, and nothing is more important to children than their parents’ undivided attention and spontaneous fun.

penguin playing picTo learn about the key growth areas most important in your child’s development, check out Easter Seals Make the First Five CountDefine Five and to check to help guide and keep track of your child’s growth and development during these first five years, take advantage of Easter Seals free, comprehensive and confidential online screening tool at Make The First Five Count.

Miaya Allen  M.A. CCC-SLP│Speech Language Pathologist
Easter Seals Greater Houston Children’s Therapy Program

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BridgingApps and The Adult Program Redefine “iPad Masters”

In December 2012, a generous anonymous donation of 17 iPads, cases and iTunes cards were gifted to the participants of the Easter Seals Adult Program. BridgingApps had the pleasure of working with the clients of the Adult Program 1-2 times per month on how to use the iPads. Throughout the year, they learned how to select and use apps on the iPad to enhance their lives.  January marked the one year anniversary of using the iPads, and we held a celebration to recognize and award the participants on their excellent progress. We decided that all deserved to graduate with the title of “iPad Master”. The event would not have been complete without a cake.cristen march betsy_frank

Some of the topics covered during the year were iPad orientation, set up, downloading apps and using assistive features. We introduced Assistive Touch, which allows easier access for those with fine motor challenges, and Zoom for those who need large print. Everyone enjoyed trialing styli of different shapes and sizes from our Assistive Technology Lab to write on the tablets.  One of the more challenging aspects of using the tablets was remembering our Apple ID’s and passwords. It is amazing how quickly those can be forgotten. Once everyone got his or her accounts and emails set up we moved on to the fun stuff. Some of our favorite activities were:

cristen march photo 2Taking pictures, Using the calendar, Making videos, Sharing photos via social media, Printing photos using apps, entering the contact information of friends and family, Using Facetime to video conference with friends and family

Favorite apps: Facebook, PicCollage, Beep Me, Do It, iBooks, CNN

What did the participants have to say about their iPads? All of them responded that they love it and have adopted them into their lives for use in many daily tasks and activities. The participants all expressed their gratitude.  When asked about their experience, Rhonda said she is thankful that she can now order her Mecristen march Troy_with_spherotrolift online using her iPad. It is so much easier to accomplish the task with the touch of her finger versus relying on someone to make the call for her. Michael benefits from playing brain games on Luminosity. Jennifer is delighted that she can now download Stephen King books and enlarge the print to her liking. Brian began using Proloquo4text as a quick way to communicate with his friends and family. And, Robert loves playing Words with Friends.

It has been a joy watching the evolution of their skills and enjoyment over the course of one year and the creative outlet and social connections that using the iPad has provided. Collaborating with Betsy Wechter on the iPad project has been phenomenal, and we look forward to another fabulous year of learning in 2014. The program volunteers have also helped enormously and had a bit of fun in the process!

Cristen Reat, Co-Founder, BridgingAPPS, ESGH Staff & Proud Mom!

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The Best Reward

In September 2012, our Easter Seals Infant Program /Early Childhood Intervention (ECI)  was so excited to expand our services to infant program liberty countyLiberty County.  In the year since we have been in Liberty County, enrollment has more than doubled from 33 children enrolled to 88 children enrolled!  Our Program Coordinator/Physical Therapist along with a dedicated staff has increased referrals in this area by attending health fairs, meeting with Physicians, Head Start, school districts and many other referral sources.  We started with three Early Intervention Specialist, one Program Coordinator/Physical Therapist and 1 translator/clerical staff.  We have recently added a Speech-Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist to help meet the needs of the children in this area!  The families in this area are so thankful for services.!

A year ago at the age of 19 months, Devin who was born premature, was barely able to sit on his own. Now with the help of his Infant Program/ECI team and great family involvement, he is walking by himself, climbing on and off of the furniture and most importantly to Devin…… jumping on the trampoline with his siblings!  Devin is a great example of the power of seeing the children in their natural environment as the staff was able to tailor his strengthening activities to his everyday family activities.  He has now “graduated” from physical therapy and is going full force to conquer his speech along with the guidance of his  Easter Seals Early Intervention Specialist and Speech Therapist.   The best part…. his Mom’s text “We will miss you!  Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication & you are the main reason Devin is where he is today!  He will continue improving.  Its people like you that deserve more than just a pat on the back.  And btw I’m printing this picture out to frame it & put in his baby book.  To me, this is more than just a picture.  It’s a huge accomplishment!  Thank you again”  – the best reward EVER.

We are proud to announced that Easter Seals will also be expanding our Infant Program/ECI services to the Southern part of Montgomery County.  We are in the process of hiring staff and transferring services of already existing clients in the area to our program.  We will be working on outreach efforts to expand and grow this new area – we hope to see the same impact as we did in Liberty County.  AND, we are excited to be housing our new program in the Montgomery County United Way Building!

Dena Day, Infant Program Director and Leanne Armel, Liberty County Program Coordinator. Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Schools Out for the Summer!…Not!

What a great 2012-2013 school year!  The Caroline School598926_576373052382236_473731378_n at Easter Seals Greater Houston is finishing its first year in    our new space and we have grown with three classrooms and have expanded to include a pilot summ228923_576373369048871_291501354_ner program.  Our summer program will take place during June and July.  Each week during the summer there will be a “summer theme” activity that correlates to a book and specific crafts.  While our main focus during the summer is to continue our strong academics we will also be63105_504791399540402_1170864112_n doing other fun activities such as music therapy, water play and yoga.

We are looking forward to the 2013-2014 school year!  Have a great summer!

Melissa Larson, Easter Seals G599629_576374119048796_1187056863_nreater Houston, The Caroline School

Based  on demand, the need to reestablish the Caroline School arose from the  issue of choice and making available an option for parents of children with significant disabilities who were/are seeking availability of a private  alternative to existing public school special education programs. The  focus is on meeting the physical, cognitive and social needs of the  child including available physical, occupational and speech therapy on  site (billed through Medicaid or private pay). Dependent on length of  child’s school day and child’s needs, tuition ranges between  $900-$2,500/monthly (scholarships and financial aid may be available).

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Return On Investment

I’ve been asked to write about my daughter “L” and the help she has received from Easter Seals Greater Houston.  My postcard 1daughter “L” was born premature, anywhere from six to eight weeks early.  “L” had a low Apgar score at birth, needed assistance with her breathing, and spent eleven days in the special care nursery at the hospital before being discharged.  “L” seemed healthy until her six month checkup, when we first heard a doctor say the term “cerebral palsy”.  At 14 months old, a MRI confirmed the diagnosis of cerebral palsy.  “L” began physical and occupational therapy in Tucson at 15 months old.  We moved back to Houston in 2009 with “L” still getting therapy.  In December 2010, “L” had her first seizure and was officially diagnosed with epilepsy in February 2011.  In May 2011, with both my wife and I working full-time, our family income was now too high for “L” to receive benefits through SSI.  Without the accompanying Medicaid benefits that came with SSI, “L” had to stop her therapy.  The place where “L” was receiving therapy only took Medicaid; they would not accept my private insurance.  Not knowing what to do next, a Google search brought up Easter Seals Greater HoustonEaster Seals Greater Houston said they did indeed offer therapy and did take private insurance.  The Easter Seals staff helped us get “L” Medicaid benefits through the Texas Medicaid Buy-In for Children program.  That form of Medicaid lasted only a year, because our income is now too high for that program’s income limit.  So starting in November 2012, we’ve been getting therapy only using our private insurance.  One of the reasons we started “L” getting therapy at Easter Seals was she could keep getting therapy from them even if her Medicaid benefits stopped.

postcard 2When “L” started physical therapy in the summer of 2011 at Easter Seals, she had only been walking for a year.  By walking, I mean she could walk maybe across a room without grabbing onto something for support.  “L” still used crutches, held someone’s hand or used walls and furniture to walk longer distances.  “L” was able to start therapy at Easter Seals twice a week.  Eventually we were able to get “L” a time slot for occupational therapy right before her physical therapy, so now she gets both types of therapy twice a week.  Her physical therapist Melissa and her occupational therapist Monica have been a blessing and are having a huge impact on “L”’s life.

The progress “L” has made at Easter Seals has been astounding.  I see “L” everyday, so I know this progress doesn’t happen overnight.  I tell people that “L”’s progress is a miracle that happens just a little bit each day.  To others though, who aren’t around “L” on a daily basis, her progress can seem like it happened overnight.  “L” during her first year of therapy at Easter Seals went from needing crutches and assistance in walking long distances, to being able to walk the entire school hallway on her own.  I noticed this last summer when I was getting “L” from Sunday school, that she was playing tag with the other kids in the school library.  Now of course she wasn’t moving as fast as the other kids, but I noticed for the first time her moving in one direction, stopping and turning to start moving in another direction and doing so without grabbing onto anything for support.  It’s moments like that when I remember; this girl didn’t walk across a room without the aid of a walker or crutches until she was 6 years old.

“L” started 2nd grade this fall, and Friday in PE class is Lap Day.  That is the day the kids walk laps around the ball field.  The PE teacher tells me eight laps around the ball field equals one mile.  “L” started out the school year in August being able to finish two laps.  By October the PE teacher said “L” was doing four laps, or half a mile.  “L” would soon have the opportunity to participate in the Fun Run/Buddy Field Day fund-raiser for the Athletics Department at her school.  The event was held during school the last Thursday in October.  The PE teacher encouraged “L” to do more than four laps.  Well “L” went out there that day and did eight laps, a full mile.  My wife and I couldn’t be there that day, but there were a lot of parents there volunteering during the event.  The church’s Trunks and Treat festival was the next evening.  My wife and I kept being told by people how amazed they were at how far “L” had walked on her own.  At a Halloween party later that night, the dad of one of the other girls in “L”’s 2nd grade class started crying as he told me how moved he was watching “L” walk a mile on her own that day.  People at the church and school saw “L” arrive for Kindergarten barely able to get around with a walker, and now they see her able to walk a mile on her own as a 2nd grader.  Walkers and crutches are in the past for “L”.  We still have a wheelchair for when we go to the mall or the zoo, and the next goal is to make the wheelchair a thing of the past for “L”.  Melissa, her Easter Seals physical therapist is the guide to making this progress happen.

The occupational therapy “L” receives at Easter Seals has helped her fine tune her motor skills.  She continues to improve with her ability to dress herself.  Getting clothes on and off is becoming easier for her.  Her handwriting has improved and now she is even attempting to do cursive writing.  Her latest achievement is being able to tie the laces on her shoes.  I knew something was up one night when I arrived home from work.  “L” was sitting there in the big chair with the biggest smile on her face.  She had just arrived home herself from her therapy sessions.  She proceeded to sit there and tie her shoelaces into a perfect knot.  Yes it took three attempts, but the third time was the charm.  I gave that girl the biggest hug.  When “L” was a toddler, all she could do is move her fingers in unison like she was doing a waving motion.  Now at age of eight she is tying her shoes.  Without occupational therapy and Monica, her Easter Seals occupational therapist, “L” wouldn’t be able to tie her shoelaces.

Another great thing Easter Seals has done for “L” is be the sponsor for Camp Smiles held at Camp for All near Burton, TX.  “L” got to go to camp for the first time last summer.  “L” absolutely loved camp.  She loved the fact the camp was setup so she, and other children like her, could have fun.  On the way home from camp she asked me if should could go back next year.  That camp and all the fun those children have there doesn’t happen without the help and hard work of the people at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Easter Seals is there for “L”.  I get emails from Easter Seals where they make you aware of legislation that affects the benefits and rights of the disabled.  Easter Seals is out there fighting for the rights of people like “L”.  They are out there, reminding our elected officials that money spent on kids like “L” is not wasted money.  I look at how far “L” has come since she first started therapy.  Money spent on these kids early, when they are still developing will give them a better chance at a normal adult life.  The more normal an adult life they have, the less money they’ll need from government resources as an adult.  In the business world, Return on Investment is what the executives are always worried about.  Let me tell you, the Return on Investment on the monetary resources that have gone towards helping “L” is off the charts.  All you have to do is look at where “L” started in 2005 and where she is now in 2013.  Easter Seals gets this idea, and is out there fighting for the needs of disabled children.

I thank God all the time for helping me find the kind people at Easter Seals Greater Houston.  They are there for “L”.  They are there to answer my questions.  They are there to help fight and provide a voice for the disabled in Washington DC and elsewhere.  They are there everyday, making Houston and the surrounding area a better place to live.

David H.

Ways you can help?  Donate or volunteer and/or contact your representatives!

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Early Childhood Intervention Is Just That; It’s “Early Intervention”?

2013 bruceUnless Congress acts soon, the majority of federal programs will be cut by approximately 5% on March 1, limiting already strained programs for children and adults with disabilities and their families.

I’m writing this letter because I’m concerned that Texas will decrease their funding for ECI services. Over the last year I have learned how important Early Childhood Intervention services are and I would like to share with you my story or rather my daughters’ stories. In March of 2012 Easter Seals Greater Houston evaluated my 2nd born daughter, K, who was a week away from turning two years old. We were concerned about “K”’s speech, which was delayed. Weeks prior to our evaluation “K” finally said mama, which was one of just a handful of words she could say. And when I say words, I mean “words” that only a mother could understand/figure out. After a thorough evaluation she was determined to be behind in Expressive Communication with no other delays, which wasn’t enough to qualify her for ECI services. I can’t tell you how upsetting it was to hear that my daughter ranked 2nd percentile in Expressive Communication, but that it was not enough to qualify her for the ECI speech therapy due to no other delays. In April 2012 “K” started Speech Therapy privately and after months of working with private insurance her therapy sessions were finally approved. “K” attended speech therapy for 6 months and in September 2012 she tested out of speech therapy. It’s still difficult to understand “K”, but she has come so far in such a short time. Speech Therapy did wonders for “K” and gave her the tools she needed to catch up to her peers in expressive language. Luckily for us we took the initiative to seek private speech therapy and our insurance approved it. Unfortunately, there are many children out there who don’t qualify through ECI speech or any other therapy, whose parents work but don’t have appropriate insurance or don’t have insurance at all and fall through the cracks. It makes me sad, because early intervention is so very important. And these same children will not be school ready when its time.

At the same time we were seeking services through ECI for “K” we had our 3rd child, “L”. “L” was born on March 1st, 2012 from an unremarkable pregnancy and delivery. At four months old “L” was a very fussy baby, still very newborn-like and not making eye-contact. In early July “L” was evaluated by a Pediatric Ophthalmologist and it was concluded that she was not seeing much of anything and was diagnosed with poor vision and possibly Delayed Visual Maturation. I spent the next few weeks (and months) researching everything I could on poor vision. I also contacted Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI, because I knew “L” was going to need a lot of help. I was very nervous about the evaluation, because I’d gone through this once before with “K” and was let down when she didn’t qualify. I was prepared to defend my daughters need for services, but it was apparent very early in the evaluation that “L” qualified for the services due to her poor vision and delayed motor skills. Over the following 7 months my beautiful “L” learned so much with the help of ECI services. Her services included (and continue to include) Physical Therapy 4 times a month, Occupational Therapy 3 times a month, Nutrition every 2 months and Vision services through HISD 3 times a month. “L”’s vision has improved greatly and her motor skills are almost on schedule for her age. She is now 11 months old and just started crawling. “L” has had to work so much harder to achieve her milestones and that is with the wonderful help of her therapists and teachers. I am so grateful for their help and I can’t imagine where we’d be today if it wasn’t for these services.

I was greatly worried after learning that ECI may receive decreased funding. I’m worried what decreases could do to the services our children receive. Is it going to be even harder for children to qualify? Will their delays have to be so much worse in order to qualify? Early intervention is supposed to prevent delays not wait for them to get worse. I believe Early Childhood Intervention is just that; it’s “Early Intervention”. I believe it makes a difference in children’s lives (my child’s life). It’s hard to understand how very important this service is unless you experience it for yourself with your own children. I truly feel ECI has changed my daughter’s life; that it has given her a chance to have a chance at a normal life. And I know my story is not the only one; I know there are numerous parents out there who feel the same as I do. Please continue to support our children in the program of Early Childhood Intervention. Our children deserve it!
Jennifer Bruce

Weigh in with your government now! https://easterseals.capwiz.com/easterseals//issues/alert/?alertID=62169961

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