Tag Archives: therapy

Miraculous Little Melody

The following was written by an Easter Seals Greater Houston client parent whose adorable little girl is participating in the Early Childhood Intervention Program.

Meet Melody! She is the baby of her family and the youngest of three girls. And she has each of us wrapped around each one of her precious, short, little fingers.

Melody has been a surprise from day one. It was a surprise to find out that we were expecting again at that time and even more of a surprise when we received a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis at 10 weeks of pregnancy. Again and again, during her development in the womb we came close to losing her, but each time she pulled through. God protected her. Knowing she would be born with multiple heart issues, we carefully planned her birth at a trusted hospital where her care team, whom we worked with during pregnancy, was ready and waiting for the big day. I was not expected to go past 36 baby Melody eci 2017 pic 2weeks of pregnancy but again Melody surprised us and waited until just two hours past her due date to make a shockingly fast and extremely dramatic appearance in her Mama’s bathtub at two in the morning with only her mommy and Daddy present. No time to get to the hospital and we barely had 911 on the phone when she decided to join us in great haste. There she was, our beautiful little baby with tons of curly dark brown hair and gorgeous brown eyes. It was a terrifying experience but thrilling to finally meet her! Talk about surprising!! By our God’s grace she was born safely and pinked up and started breathing on her own right away. It took 45 minutes for an ambulance to reach us and in that time we just held her wrapped up in a towel, cried and prayed.

We had had lots of time to prepare since we had an early prenatal diagnosis and so while she was still in the NICU we made contact with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention and requested an evaluation for as soon as possible once she was discharged. Those days were so very exhausting with all of the feeding difficulties she had so I cannot remember the exact age that she was evaluated by these caring people with Easter Seals’ ECI program but I do know that it was swift and we started both physical and occupational therapy right away. Melody has been such a little warrior princess all along and it has been thrilling to watch her meet milestone after milestone, while we have faithfully worked​alongside our therapists. Even though for the first six baby Melody eci 2017 pic 1months she had two holes in her heart (as well as two other heart issues) multiple illnesses, both a lip and tongue tie (which were both revised at around eight months old) and serious feeding struggles, Melody continues to surprise and wow us; like when she suddenly decided to start breastfeeding at eight and a half months old when her mama had given up the dream of getting to share that bond with her. She nursed for six weeks and then she was done but those were priceless times.

She is truly such an incredible gift from God! One we never even thought to ask for ourselves, but He graciously gave anyway, knowing that we needed her in our lives. She (and her doting big sisters) fills our every day with so much joy! Melody is currently just past fourteen months old and is sitting up beautifully, crawling as fast as lighting, pulling up on everything and showing some real interest in walking! She gives enormous hugs and kisses all day long, waves hello and goodbye, drinks through a straw like a champ, has learned how to fake laugh, blows the sweetest kisses, claps her darling, square shaped, little hands and says “Yay!”. She also says “Dada” all the time much to her father’s delight. She loves everyone and literally draws crowds wherever we go. Grocery shopping with her is a nightmare. Ha! Our family is so very thankful for the Easter Seals’ ECI program and look forward to each session we have with our wonderful therapist. Melody is going to do great things with her life and Easter Seals is making for some fantastic stepping stones.

Mrs. Davis, Early Childhood Intervention client parent, Easter Seals Greater Houston

 

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Appreciating Family Dinner

The following post was written by Easter Seals Greater Houston’s longtime Early Childhood Intervention Program Community Outreach and Program Training Coordinator, Kimberly Sporrer. It shows a mere glimpse of the positive impact her hard work has had on one of countless ECI clients and families she worked with over her 21 years of dedicated service.

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I met with one of my clients today, and Audrey, Liam’s mom, discussed how much progress Liam has made since being enrolled in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program, commonly referred to as ECI.

 

Audrey reports that she is so pleased that Liam can now let her know when he is hungry instead of whining and pointing to various food items. Additionally, Mom discussed that Liam is now able to sit with the family to eat his meals. Before ECI, he would walk around the house while taking a few bites at a time, and he would throw tantrums if made to sit in his high chair. Mom said family dinners are now stress free and so enjoyable!

Mom also stated that she is grateful that she was given the infant pic 2strategies to create a more structured environment for Liam. She discussed that Liam’s ability to anticipate events during the day (lunch, naps, bath time, etc) results in less tantrums and a calmer demeanor.

She is excited and encouraged by the rapid pace of Liam’s progress and is looking forward to hitting new milestones soon!

Kimberly Sporrer, Early Childhood Intervention Infant Program, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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. Learn more here.

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The SMART Road To Assistive Tech for ALL

In 2010, I was working at an educational non-profit when I helped to start a support group of parents and therapists where we shared information on how smartphones and touch tablets could help children with disabilities improve developmental skills. I was interested in how technology could help my youngest son Vincent, who at the age of 6 had the fine motor skills of an 18 month old. I knew that he would never write with a pen and paper, but I also knew that technology could play a big role in his early education and throughout his life.

Vincent had tried joysticks and other technology prior to the tablet to write and communicate, but he needed hand over hand assistance to operate them. However, with the iPad he was able to navigate independently. What a boost to his confidence and an ease to his frustration!

Other parents and therapists had similar thoughts but, because this mobile technology was so new, we spent hours exploring possibilities of which apps were the most helpful for our kids. We were overwhelmed by the sheer number of apps available, so we set out to find a way to make searching easier for parents and professionals. That support group and quest for solutions turned into BridgingApps, a website and program of Easter Seals Greater Houston.

Becoming part of Easter Seals Greater Houston has been a blessing in the most profound way for this program and for our family. With the help of Easter Seals’ leadership and vision to help the program grow as quickly as possible, we have been able to make great strides in its’ development and reach. In 2014, BridgingApps won the Verizon Powerful Answers Award for Education that came with a $700,000 prize.  Our website is filled with resources for people of all ages and abilities – parents, caregivers, therapists, doctors and people with disabilities – looking for the right apps to fit their needs.

We now have three assistive technology labs (Thanks to The George Foundation and ATT&T) in the Houston area and satellite support groups in Austin, the Rio Grande Valley and Fort Worth, Texas.  In 2016, we gave more than 55 presentations and trainings in Houston and around the country. Our website enjoys 9,000 registered users from 187 countries, 7,000 monthly visitors, a podcast segment, an online course, a regular column in a digital magazine, and 3,500 apps in our database. We are excited to explore new ways in which mobile technology can assist young adults with special health care needs, older adults, and seniors through collaborative projects with Texas Children’s Hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, Amerigroup/Anthem, UnitedHealthcare, and others.

As a veteran of the US Army, I am thrilled and honored this year to be working on a project that provides services and mental health supports to veterans and their families by using technology. Through a generous grant from TV+FA, we are able to provide technology training in different formats to veterans and their family members.  This spring we have already provided 10 Veterans Access Cafes in locations around Houston to demonstrate how smartphones can be used as a mental health support with apps like Calm, Swirlicity, and Stay Quit Coach. We continue to add content each week to www.bridgingapps.org/veteransresource  to share information on apps and other technologies that benefit veterans and their families.

Cristen Reat, Easter Seals Greater Houston, BridgingApps Founder

 

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Children’s Therapy Program There for Every Step

The following post was written by a clients mother:

ctp-blog-picMy daughter is 5 years old and diagnosed with a rare disease that causes vision impairment, epilepsy, low muscle tone and developmental delays. Her name is Aubrey and she is diagnosed with a mutation of the DNM1 gene. Her condition was undiagnosed for the first three years of her life. We initially received state sponsored physical, occupational and speech therapy. We also sought private therapy through a local hospital. Aubrey made extremely slow but steady progress. She could not sit unassisted or maintain weight on her legs. I spent time researching therapy and staying connected with families that have children with similar conditions. I was told about TheraSuit therapy by a family in Australia. Their children benefited from this intensive therapy. I then asked Aubrey’s health providers about the specialized physical therapy. I was put in contact with a local family that had a great experience with Easter Seals Greater Houston.

I contactctp-blog-pic-2ed Easter Seals Greater Houston and the staff member was extremely helpful in determining that Aubrey was eligible for services. I applied for financial help from a local charity organization and Aubrey was gifted a six week session of intensive physical therapy with Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Children’s Therapy Program. Her progress was amazing. After the intensive therapy sessions ended we continued her treatment at Easter Seals. She is currently enrolled in Physical, Occupational and speech/feeding therapies with NDT certified therapists. She has made phenomenal progress. Easter Seals therapists have assisted us in finding equipment and adaptive toys through their ToyTech resource to help her. We are excited to see what the future holds for Aubrey and thank the special people that work with her weekly at Easter Seals Greater Houston.

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

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – E.M. Forster

To refer a child or for further information regarding the Children’s Therapy Program please call 713-838-9050 ext 381

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Mama Bear Advocates for Her Baby Cub

Joshua, lovingly known as “Bear”, has made rapid progress since he began receiving services through Early Childhood Intervention from Easter Seals Greater Houston.  Delighted by his newly acquired skills, his mom, Stephani, wanted to share his success story:Bear

Born full term and healthy, with no apparent issues, Bear’s mom began to notice he was taking longer to reach his developmental milestones.  During checkups with the pediatricians, she voiced her concerns.  After moving to this area, Stephani followed up with new doctors.  At his two-year old well check-up, his mom reported Bear was not saying any words.  When told about the possible language delay, his doctor recommended ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) from Easter Seals Greater Houston.

The evaluation with ECI occurred in mid-March.  Bear qualified for ECI due to global delays.  One of the items on the evaluation was the string drop test.  Bear was unable to see the string as it fell, prompting the assessment team to discuss a possible problem with his vision, and encouraged Stephani to have his vision tested.

His mom was quick to follow-though with the team’s suggestion and immediately scheduled an eye exam for the next week.   At the eye appointment, Bear was diagnosed as legally blind, with significant vision loss in both eyes. He was fitted for glasses.  At first, Bear grabbed the glasses off his face.  But then, with the second try, he looked through the lenses, his face lit up, and he gave that “half-smile smirk”, truly seeing people for the first time!  Now, with his glasses, Bear is able to see the world around him, his reach and grasp have improved tremendously, and he loves watching and imitating his big brother.

From the initial evaluation, a PT (Physical Therapy, part of Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Children’s Therapy Program) consult was also written.  When the PT completed her evaluation, she recommended SMOs (Supra Malleolar Orthosis, which are prescribed to help stabilize ankles/feet to improve balance and walking).  Again, his mom followed-through, promptly getting the prescription and an appointment with a orthotics clinic.  Two weeks after being fitted, Bear received his SMOs.  Even though he has only been wearing the orthotics a few days, dramatic improvement has already been shown in his balance.

Not only has Bear improved in his vision and walking skills, his language skills have also increased.  He’s now imitating and using some signs and single words.  Instead of crying as he had done before, he now uBear 2ses the sign “more” to communicate what he wants.

Much of Bear’s progress was due to his mom’s response, and getting him the help he needed.  When asked about her experience with ECI of Easter Seals Greater Houston, Stephani replied:  “I didn’t know what to do until someone told me what to do.  I saw how much the suggestions helped him, and I was excited to do more.  I didn’t know where to start and they showed me.”  She has certainly embraced the team approach as the family, ECI staff, and medical professionals all work together to encourage Bear’s next new skill.

Stephani Robison, Early Childhood Intervention Program Client, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Little Steps Big Success with Easter Seals Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program

chelsea linn pic 2Written by a client’s adoptive mother.

‘It was Thanksgiving eve 2014 that I received a call from my husband wanting to know if I was still interested in adopting a baby, my heart sank. My husband and I only had one daughter and she was now 19.  We had always said one day we would try to adopt but had not pursued it, so I was very much surprised by the phone call.

My husband went on to explain that a very distant relative of his had reached out to him to see if maybe we could take a family member’s newborn, if not they were taking her to the local fire station.  We had until midnight to get there (Dallas), and well my response was an immediate YES!!!!  I left work, went straight home and we had a family meeting to ensure our 19-year-old was on board, AND her response was “what are you waiting on… GO”!penguin playing pic

We brought Jordan home that night she was 6 weeks old.  We immediately noticed that she wasn’t crying very much and that she was moving her head and arms very little. I took her to the doctor and they told me she wasn’t moving or crying because she had been left in a car seat or swing for long periods of time and had very little interactions with her parents. The doctor told me babies cry because they need something, but if no one responds eventually they stop crying. It really hit me hard now how much she had been neglected. I contacted the CPS agent in Dallas and she explained what all had happened, she told me that Jordan had been born with 4 drugs in her system and that was why they had an open case, I had a home interview and the file was closed with CPS.

monkey communication pocI had heard about #MakeTheFirstFiveCount and their on-line Ages and Stages Questionnaire.  I filled out an Easter Seals referral form and Jordan was evaluated by Easter Seals Greater Houston‘s Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) and on January 28, 2015 she was diagnosed with a NON-categorical four-month delay and she started Physical Therapy & Occupational Therapy with the Liberty County Easter Seals staff.cheetah moving pic

Ms. Leanne Armel, an amazing therapist that has been with Easter Seals Greater Houston for over fifteen years, started working with Jordan intensely, and she told me this wasn’t going to be easy and for me to stay strong…This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, as her mom my first instinct is to protect her from hurting (she had been through so much already). Every time Ms. Leanne saw me she would always reassure me this was for the best and always gave me early intervention caregiver’s techniques to do at home & in the classroom as well while not doing therapy.

Nov 2015 Infant program blog pic3 by Sharon MottA few months into it Ms. Leanne told me not to give up but to be thinking about talking her to the doctor to see if she would benefit from surgery. I was so scared and unsure as to what to do?? Ms. Leanne was so comforting and really listened to me without judging, she understood how hard it was to see Jordan crying during the sessions, but I prayed every day for God to lead guide and direct all decisions.  January we had our second IFSP (Individual Family Service Plan) meeting and Jordan graduated out of the program and was ahead of schedule in most milestones!! Can you believe we were discussing surgery one year ago!!  Now she will be school ready! and we are equipped with more knowledge and resources moving forward!

Sears Family,  Easter Seals Greater Houston Early Childhood Intervention Program Clients

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Your “Go To” for Child Development! #MakeTheFirstFiveCount

What are EIS and SST?

In the world of Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) we really like our acronyms. BDI, IFSP, OT, PT, EIS and SST are just a few of them that are common terms to  Infant program Jamie Hearly intervention providers in the field, but to parents these terms are often new and confusing.

Today we’ll be highlighting two important terms in Easter Seals Greater Houston’s ECI Infant Program, EIS and SST:

What is an EIS? Early Intervention Specialist (EIS) professionals are required to have at least a Bachelor’s degree with coursework related to early childhood intervention. EIS’s also must successfully complete specialized post-graduate training after being hired. They have expertise in infant and toddler development, both typical and atypical patterns. For example, cognitive skills and how infants and toddlers learn, and social interactions like behavior, biting, temper tantrums and picky eating.   EIS’s focus on how to embed the intervention into families’ daily activities so it will increase the opportunity for the child to practice new skills every day. Lauren Stroope, an EIS shares this:

martha and client“My name is Lauren Stroope. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Colorado State University. I have worked as an EIS for 3 years. As an EIS, I help babies across developmental domains. Some babies on my caseload are just learning to sit up on their own, crawl and walk. I work with the baby and give mom tips for helping them meet motor goals. I have several two-year olds on my caseload who have speech delays. I introduce simple signs to them so they can communicate their wants and needs better while decreasing their frustration. I help kids learn how to sit and attend, and follow directions. One of my favorite success stories is from a child that just graduated. He was in our program for a year. He started out unable to sit and play for more than a few seconds and had no words. By the time he graduated, he could sit and play for our whole session, had several words, and could follow directions and answer questions by pointing or signing.”

What is SST? Specialized Skills Training (SST) is a unique early intervention service only offered by an EIS. A child can receive SST and therapy services. SST shows parents how to help their children learn with a focus on thinking skills, behavior and social skills. These are all skills your child needs to be ready for school. SST shows you ways to help your child during your family’s everyday activities by using items in your home or childcare center, and teaches you about child development and what should be happening next with milestones.leanne and client

What happens in an SST Session? An EIS will schedule visits to join the family during activities they request help with, either at home or in the community. The skills families learn during SST sessions will help the child meet specific developmental goals. For example, if a parent wants their child to talk more, an EIS demonstrates and suggests how to set up their child’s play area to encourage use of more words and asking for favorites – maybe during snack time and using pictures of food to help the child make choices. Since services are also provided in community settings, some staff has even met families in a grocery store to offer suggestions on how to reduce temper tantrums during this routine for families.

ECI Infant Program of Easter Seals Greater Houston believes that working in partnership with families and their young children is the key. An investment in babies today for a better Texas tomorrow! We are specialists in your child’s development. Check out Make The First Five Count http://www.easterseals.com/mtffc/ and make sure your child is reaching their milestones!

Lauren Stroope, EIS, Easter Seals Greater Houston Infant Program / (Early Childhood Education)

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