Tag Archives: therapy

It Takes A Village of Great Therapists

Our family is a little sad, but completely proud to have our son graduate from Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program. We are so very grateful to have had the wonderful team that Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program provided.  After our son John’s long NICU stay he began receiving outstanding therapy from Easter Seals ECI team. First of all I’d like to thank Aliza. At any time I could call you with any issue or concern. You never failed to provide me with resolutions for my concerns. You had John’s best interest at heart. Thank you!

Lisa Rand. I could always talk to her about sensory issues with John. You sent me texts on your free time with videos that really did work for John. It was such a joy to have you in our home. We always looked forward to all the goodies you had in your bag. With your therapy sessions John can take on anything! Thank you!

Jennifer Miller. We worked with you for a little while, but we were more than ecstatic to have you teach John to say those hard to speak letters (like B and P).  You are a wonderful therapist, mom and friend! John says more sentences because of you! Thank you! 

Neice Thomas. You were such a gentle therapist. Your patience with John made me so thankful to you. He touches Play-Doh and slime without issue! Thank you!

Lastly, Andy Fry. It was always a nice getaway for John. To meet other children with similar issues. Your Family Day Out Program was so fun! What you do for the children and parents is great. Thank you!

We will continue to do the Walk With Me with Easter Seals Greater Houston once it is safe for us all to do so. We certainly do miss ECI!  Thank you again for all the work that was put in for John.

Sincerely,

Monique Stuart
John Stuart
Curtis Stuart

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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The Power of Communication

CTP 2nd blog Anna pic

For some children and adults having a voice to communicate comes from an augmentative and alternative communication option. A way to communicate.

Anna was referred to Easter SealsChildren’s Therapy Program to get specialized services to learn to use a high-tech communication device so that she can communicate her own thoughts to her family and friends. She uses a wheelchair for mobility and has a lot of difficulty controlling her motor movements including her breath support and muscles for speech. The therapists have been trying different communication devices that let her “touch” the screen with her eyes. In addition to her speech therapist, Anna works with physical and occupational therapists to strengthen her core, stretch her arms and legs, and relaxation techniques. All of this helps control her posture and head control so that she can successfully activate her communication device.

Anna has a great sense of humor and is really motivated to get her mom or therapists to laugh. She has been practicing telling jokes and silly stories. It has been great getting to know the “real” Anna now that she is able to show us how much she has to say. Her mom has been very excited to get to know Anna’s favorite things and hearing her opinions.

Due to the success she has had in her weekly sessions, Anna’s school is working with her family to provide additional supports for Anna to use her device at school and in the community. She is also starting a standing program to help her regain strength and function, help with transfers, and improve breathing and other quality of life measures.

Daryn Ofczarzak, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Children’s Therapy, BridgingApps

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The Wonders of Early Childhood Intervention

To the Easter Seals ECI Infant Program – the Woodlands team. Way to go Jeannie, Lisa, and Nicola!

Our experience with Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention Program was a very positive one. From the very beginning (our daycare suggested we reach out when my son was about 11 months old). little boyAustin’s initial evaluation was a lot to take in, but they explained everything they were doing (and more importantly, WHY), and what the process would look like to begin services and what we should expect (this all before we ever had a diagnosis too)… over the past two years, I have relied heavily on Jeannie and Lisa’s guidance on best practices for us to be using with Austin at home, helpful toys/exercises/etc., and celebrated almost every milestone with us along the way. Easter Seals ECI Staff have been more than flexible with my often hectic work schedule (even when I sometimes forget to call and let them know Austin wouldn’t be at daycare for whatever doc appointment/illness/trip 🤦🏻‍♀️), and I loved getting feedback/photos/progress updates from Lisa after Occupational Therapy sessions. I, of course, wish they could have worked with Austin even more than what was available, but ECI has provided an incredible foundation for Austin’s development and future success. Thank you doesn’t seem like enough in this case and I’m quite sad that it’s come to an end.

Austins Mom – Easter Seals ECI Client

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Coping Strategy to Passion

Lou is a Veteran who has been working on reducing chronic stress in his life with Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Service Member, Veteran and Military-Connected Families Program.  After making lots of progress in therapy, COVID-19 presented new challenges and removed some of his coping strategies.  He was no longer able to attend therapeutic horsemanship at Reigning Strength, or volunteer to keep himself meaningfully occupied.  Visits with neighbors and friends were suspended during the stay-at-home orders. 

During a telehealth session with his psychologist, Amy Harkins, Ph.D. from Easter Seals Greater Houston, Lou decided on a plan to stop worry by snapping a few photos with his old camera.  After one week, he reported that photography was as good for his state of mind as breathing exercises, but not as good as spending time with his favorite horse, Iceman.  With photography, he learned he can shut out other thoughts and he said “it calms me down.”  He found himself surprised that he could be so interested looking at a bug on a rose, something that he normally would not have noticed.  Photography reminds him that there are other things happening in the world besides his own concerns and some of those things are “pretty darn good.”  Lou is thinking about using photography as a bridge back to older hobbies of painting and drawing.  When asked what he sees when he looks out the window, he explained “I used to only see clouds.  Now I am seeing the sun poking through those clouds.”

Easter Seals Greater Houston proudly serves Veterans, Service Members and Military-Connected Families with a wide variety of programs and resources. Learn more.

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“I Love You” – Music to Mom’s Ears

The following success stories were shared by parents of our Early Childhood Intervention Infant Development Program.

Thanks to Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI), my son, Josue, recently started saying his first words and that means so much to our family! Thanks to the wonderful therapists for helping parents to understand our children’s needs and showing us the ways that we can help even outside of therapy sessions.  My son now tells me he loves me and those words are everything to me.   – Josue’s Mom


Benjamin and Ciara are a true success story with an early start of life. Coming into the world on 4/17/2018 at 27 weeks, Ciara weighing 1.7 pounds. and Benjamin, 1.3 pounds. They had their challenges while in the hospital, but were finally released 7 months later. The family would need a team of specialists to assist them with the care of the twins and so they began ECI services with Easter Seals Greater Houston in April of 2019. A team made up of Physical, Occupational, Nutrition, Specialist Skills, Speech therapy, Nursing staff, and lots of family came together to be their network of support. The twins are now walking and have successfully graduated from Physical therapy services. The twins are still being fed by G-Tube and working towards learning how to orally fed. The team is still working together on their current goals to get them on their developmental level. The family is optimistic about what the future holds for their babies!

Use slider below to see how Benjamin and Ciara have grown!

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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Success and Virtual Services – Stories from our Staff and Clients

Adult Services/LEAD
With the current Coronavirus pandemic, causing shutdowns of businesses, limited access to resources, and just overall stress for every single person in the United States, the Easter Seals Greater Houston L.E.A.D. program is fighting back the stress with creativity in technology! By utilizing webcam access, we have still been able to meet with our adult program daily and covered many new ways to communicate. First step was showing all the tips and tricks with Facebook and how to create video conversations with their friends; allowing our clients to still stay as close as ever even during this time of social distancing. As we move forward, our next step has been creating a new activity calendar FULL of fun creative ways to stay busy, from virtual tours online to chair yoga YouTube videos. We have definitely been challenged by this pandemic, but it is not stopping us whatsoever. Having to think outside of the box has been the L.E.A.D.’s group specialty, and with everyone in this social crew working together, we are still making it the best part of our week. By using these amazing resources of technology, we are still able to function together as a team and continue to socialize just like before, just this time with a little distance.  Check out what we’ve produce here on our BridgingApps YouTube Channel!  From Rebecca, Adult Services LEAD Program

Camp, School, Therapy and More!
I was on the phone with a Buckaroo mom about the COVID-19 emergency funding; she was super appreciative. We started talking about her son, Bryson, who has come to Buckaroo– but it has always been a struggle for him to do a whole day of camp. Bryson has non-verbal autism and he does what HE wants to do (i.e. not a fan of buckaroo group activities, or listening), so he mostly came to Buckaroo for a couple hours each day to watch camp from the side. Mom said that for the first week of quarantine, Bryson stood at the door with his backpack every morning for 45 minutes because he wanted to go to school so badly. Nevertheless, she said that homeschooling has actually been amazing for them! He has been getting speech therapy over the phone, with mom consistently implementing the therapy because they are together all day. She said he has learned a few ASL signs and he is SO excited that he is able to communicate! It was a huge breakthrough for both of them; he realized that instead of just DOING what he wants, he gets what he wants easily if he does a sign for it! It warmed my heart that she would share that with me, and I am so glad that there is some positives coming out of quarantine, and we can’t wait to see him at Camp Buckaroo!  From Kenzie Richard, Camps, Easter Seals Greater Houston

Creativity and Patience – Children’s Therapy Program
“We wanted to have a family meal where everyone was sharing a nice homemade meal. Sounds pretty easy, but it wasn’t. We sought out a food therapy program to help with Edgar’s limited diet, his overeating tendencies, and his textural sensibilities. When Easter Seals started offering food therapy, we quickly signed Edgar up for it because there would be no force feeding involved, a big plus for my sweet sensitive child!

I have noticed that after starting the food therapy program with Alysia, Edgar has gone from eating a handful of foods to at least trying out different foods I never thought would be possible. I never expected results in such a short amount of time. Lettuce, strawberries, and even hamburger meat? Those foods seemed like a long shot…a goal for the long run. Yet here we are, months into the food therapy program and my child is opening up! Suddenly, sharing the same nice homemade meal with the family doesn’t seem as far-fetched as I had imagined last year!

I can honestly say that the food therapy in combination with other therapies including his occupational therapy with Alysia, Speech with Miaya, Ingrid with Music, his kindergarten teacher, his school assigned case worker, and even his school principal have all helped propel my son forward. Alysia, I can’t thank you enough! Your creativity and your patience with Edgar has shown in many areas and now with Food therapy, you have given us a gift our family will always cherish. Food is family and love! ” – -Doris, Parent, Client, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Children’s Therapy Program

 

 

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Pilot Program for Service Dogs… gone virtual..not to the dogs

My name is Bryan Cream and I am an Army Veteran who served eight years as a Chaplain Assistant. During my time, I served in many great units but I was lucky enough to serve my two tours in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. During Deployment, I do not recall any one specific event that caused damage to me physically. Overtime, my body deteriorated due to nothing more than I can explain as wear and tear. After eight years of climbing the ranks to E-6 or Staff Sergeant, I was Medically Discharged because my body had failed me. The next five years were very tough for me to accept my new life in the Civilian world.

As a Chaplain Assistant, I was responsible for ensuring the Soldiers and their families spiritual needs were met and that they maintained a level of mental strength and preparedness. Now, I am perceived as a Disabled Veteran and not able help myself. Through time and a lot of effort, I was able to accept and handle the mental impact of it all but now I am left with physical limitations that will certainly get worse with time.

Over the years, I dreamed of having a service dog to help me navigate life with the challenges that I am facing, but I never wanted to take a place from a Veteran that had Combat related injuries. Shortly after buying our first home, we found a beautiful Black Lab who we fell in love with and named her Lucie. We had her for about two months before I saw an ad from Easter Seals advertising their great program that offered a path to a Service Dog for Disabled Veterans. Not only did it offer training for Lucie but for myself as well.

The Easter Seals Pilot Service Dog Training Program has obviously gone virtual given the pandemic we are experiencing.  I am only halfway through this 10-week course; I am already seeing drastic changes and impressive results. Lucie has gone from a hyperactive puppy with a few basic commands to a 5-month-old puppy who I am able to trust in public.

The commands she is able to recognize and execute are sit, laydown, stay, wait, left, right, up, down and off. She is able to walk alongside a shopping cart in a public store without any issues. She is able to stay in the down position while I am twenty feet away for an extended period with multiple distractions.

Beyond the commands, I have learned to notice the small details and to listen to my dog. Building a bond with Lucie to make sure she knows where my next step or turn is. Allie (Easter Seals’ Trainer via My Service Dog) has been by Lucie, and my side throughout this course. Helping me see the small successes with Lucie and myself. She has taught me how to be patient with Lucie and most importantly, patient with myself through this training opportunity. Although, she is not quite a full-time service dog, I have faith that she will be there before too long. I look forward to working with Lucie some more and have her fully trained to be my companion in my any challenges I have to face.

Retired Staff Sergeant, Bryan Cream, Easter Seals Greater Houston Client

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Together We Did It!

First, as a family we’d like to say a big thank you to the Easter Seals Early Childhood Intervention program team that has been part of the process over the almost 3 years working with our twins, Noah and Roman. Together WE DID IT! WE are doing it! They are achieving so much and catching up to developmental milestones. It’s been wonderful to see them thriving and meeting goals.ECI blog for february pic 3

Noah and Roman were born at 30 weeks unexpectedly. As a parent that can be a scary thing not knowing the outcome of your babies. I did not have the opportunity to see, nor hold my babies once they were both delivered and they stayed in the NICU for about 2 months and received therapy services thru the hospital. Luckily, we were referred to Easter Seals ECI for the opportunity to have continued care for our little guys. Thru ECI we have been given more of the tools necessary to help our boys develop and grow.

Our service coordinator, Roshanda, has been very helpful in educating us about options we have for different services thru Easter Seals and ECI and making sure needs have been met. She always has open communication with me and answers questions or concerns we may have. Roshanda is very pleasant to work with and I feel like she genuinely cares.

The twins both started physical therapy with Melissa. It was a bittersweet moment being discharged from Easter Seals Houston’s PT services BUT it was a blessing they reached all their goals and physical developmental milestones! Thank you Melissa!

The boys have been receiving Easter Seals Houston’s occupational therapy services with Gumaro. We thank you Gumaro for getting the boys on track.  Always having patience with them during the good days and the bad days.

Speech Therapy through Easter Seals is so much fun for Noah and Roman most of the time(if they’re in a good mood) the vocabulary has gone from grunts and crying to pointing, using single words, 2 and even some 3 word phrases. They definitely like to show off that they can communicate with mom and the family now. Thank you Tate! Also thank you to Michelle during SLP sessions with Noah when he had a tongue tie. You were so helpful to us. You introduced him with his 1st favorite book “Never Touch a Dragon” which he still loves.

The twins also receive SST (Specialized Skills Training) with Lakeisha. They have so much fun with all the therapists, but they really enjoy Lakeisha. They don’t even realize she’s working with them and think it is play time the whole session! ECI blog for february pic 2

You all have watched our little guys have their best days and worst days. Thank you to the team of everyone who has helped us, help them, along the way thus far! These little guys have come a long way and the support and services thru Easter Seals ECI I truly feel like has gotten them on track to where they are now!

Thank you so much!

-Noah, Roman and Family

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There Will Never Be Enough ” Thank You’s”

Our baby, Nicolas was born with Arthrogryposis, this condition causes many joints to be stiff and crooked at birth. This was a surprise since the doctor didn’t catch this in the ultrasounds.  It was a pill hard to swallow as every parent expects their baby to be healthy. Nicolas was a tight little ball who could not stretch out. The Arthrogryposis on Nicolas affected him in his elbows, wrists, 10 fingers, knees, and complex clubfeet. The doctors weren’t sure if he was going to be able to walk. He was in need of a lot of medical care including surgeries, cast, and therapy.

We heard about Easter Seals Greater Houston and their program called Early Childhood Intervention that could help us give therapy to Nicolas from home. We called and after a few weeks, they were at home making the first evaluation. After this evaluation, they told us Nicolas qualified and they would start coming to our home for PT, OT, and ST.

Every single lady from this program has changed our lives in so many ways. They have shown this love for Nico since the day they met him. They were at my house every week since my son was 2 months old until 3 years old.

1The OT therapy started with DeeDee, she is a very sweet lady who won’t stop smiling. Nico was so happy to see her. She helped Nico with his hands, shoulders, elbows, and wrists doing stretching. She taught Nico to use his fingers to grab toys, small balls, push bottoms, and play with his cars. She also did stretching on a big ball. She became a friend of our family. She brought us hope.

The PT started with Melanie. She helped Nico with stretching his lower body. She helped us when we were having problems with Nico’s braces. She helped Nico sit and start bearing weight, she even put Nico in his first gait trainer.

After that, we had to move to Houston. The ECI program rescheduled and reassigned within Easter Seals and did everything for us and after a couple of weeks, they started coming to our new apartment.

The PT continued with Cristy. My family will never forget this lady. When Nico was born the doctors weren’t sure if he was going to walk. She helped Nico in so many ways. She made him stronger. She was always very energetic and happy. She helped Nico walk his first steps on his walker. And then the unimaginable happened. She said Nico was ready to walk by himself. So Nico took his first steps with her at 20 months old. I have that memory in my mind like it was yesterday. Everybody was so happy and in tears. It was the best moment in our lives. We are so thankful for her. After that she taught Nico to go up and down small steps. She taught Nico to kick a ball. She taught Nico to go from a sitting position to standing. She will be always a special person in our lives.

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The OT continued with Sherry. She helped Nico with fine motor skills. Nico got better grabbing things. Sherry also taught Nico colors, numbers, and animal names. She was always bringing new toys to keep Nico learning new things every therapy session.

For ST, both speech pathologists were great teaching Nico how to blow bubbles and saying new words like pop, mom and daddy.  They read books to Nico and played with him to teach him even more new words.

We moved again into a new house and with the move, we again got new therapists within Easter Seals.

Lisa started with Nico for OT. She always said Nico was super smart. She encouraged Nico’s Spanish. She was very funny and always made us laugh. She taught Nico to draw lines, circles, play with play-doh and so much more. She was always a spark of joy for us.

3Britney started with Speech. She taught Nico so many new words. Nico’s first sentence was thanks to Britney. She was always finding funny ways to made Nico speak. She helped me a lot too. She was the one who made the transition of Nico to the School District.

Nico also started speech group therapy. He loved this therapy. He was so happy to go and see the other kids. This therapy was really fun. Nico learned how to interact with other kids, and how to follow instructions. He learned a lot of new words and how to answer questions. He learned to interact with his teachers.

I can’t say thank you enough to Easter Seals and this ECI program and all people working in it. They changed our lives in so many ways. They went beyond just being therapists. They made us feel like family. They were there in one of the sad moments of our lives and they brought us hope.  Nicolas is doing so well thanks to all these ladies. We love you and will never forget you. Thank you very much!

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By: Nicolas’s Mom

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The Staff that Works Magic

Our Easter Seals staff is amazing! We are so proud of the work they do daily.  This is regarding a client in many of our programs that has Down syndrome, vision impairment and is on the autism spectrum. His mother also happens to be our BridgingApps Program Director.

“I have recently started working with Vincent on his knee,  He has had a subluxed patella four times, and the last one being the worst.  When I evaluated Vincent, he was very shy and didn’t want to participate or engage in physical therapy. CTP 1st Vincent pic 1 We did the evaluation in the hall outside of the PT gym, because that was as close as we could get him at the time.  I talked to him, reassured him, and made fun games out of the evaluation.  We finally got him in the gym to work on the mat.  Mom was concerned about him lying on the floor because this is not something he willingly does at home, but I was able to make a fun game out of it, and mom participated as well.  Now the whole family is doing Vincent’s home exercise program! I have only just begun working with Vincent, and we are going at his pace for therapy.  He now calls me Ms. Streisand, and I just roll with it because kids can call me anything they want to if it will get them to work, play, and have fun!”

Watch this super cute video of Vincent in therapy!

Missy Dafler, PT, DPT, C/NDT, CKTP

Physical Therapist, Easter Seals Children’s Therapy Program

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