Meet Your Bloggers!

Your bloggers have been hard at work discussing how to keep you involved in what is going on at UCP-OC!

We wanted to give you a chance to get to know who is writing so it can be a little more personal.

On the left is Katy, she has her own successful blog about being a teen with CP. She is a senior in High School and is in the thick of college decisions for next year. She is from Huntington Beach and loves to keep active by going for hikes and other activities. After you look around our blog you should visit hers!

 On the right is Elizabeth, she is the Social Media/Marketing intern here at UCP-OC. She is a senior at Azusa Pacific University and is graduating this May! She is also from Huntington Beach and loves discovering new unique coffee shops and having fresh flowers in her apartment. She is passionate about working with and helping children, and hopes to someday center her career around that.

Ellie Bowers is a freshman at Northwood High School in Irvine, California. There, Ellie plays on both the Basketball and Lacrosse teams, and is involved in Freshman Class Council, as well as the FCA and Wolfpack clubs.  In her spare time, Ellie enjoys hanging out with friends, going to her church’s youth group, playing the piano, and spending time with her family. Ellie currently resides in North Irvine with her parents and two sisters.

This is Bridget, she is a new addition to our team and we look forward to hearing what she has to say! Bridget is a 14 year old 8th grader at Sierra Vista Middle school in Irvine. She likes to hang out with her friends, ride horses, and work with kids at the local elementary school and religious school. Bridget wants to be a teacher when she grows up.


Glimmer of Hope

Glimmer of Hope

A Night to Shine in the Emerald City

Come with us to the Emerald City for the Life Without Limits Gala, 2011! This is a dazzling night filled with food, dancing, and wonderful speakers—a night you won’t want to miss. This black tie event will take place on the 26th of March, at the Balboa Bay Club and Resort (1221 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach), starting at 5:30 p.m. We are hosting this event to raise money for our organization and to celebrate children.
We will be honoring the generous support of Julia and George Argyros. Mr. Argyros for their impact on children in Orange County. He is a former United States Ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain, has attained many highly acclaimed honors over his lifetime, including the Horatio Award for Distinguished Americans, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Semper Fidels Award from the Marine Scholarship Foundation. The Argyros Family Foundation is one of our sponsors for this extravagant event. Other sponsors include the Dubia Family Foundation, D.L.D. Insurance Brokers, the Tunney Foundation, Fish and Richardson, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
So join us as we celebrate a night working towards our mission of helping children reach their potential! Everyone deserves a glimmer of hope, and you can help this by coming to the Life Without Limits Gala!

New in Assistive Technology

The Apple iPad…it’s as though the word is just lingering in the air today. Why is that you ask? The new iPad 2 comes out today! This means that there is a new iPad available, but you can also find the first iPad at a much more affordable price! The new iPad promotional video even features a lengthy portion to the unexpected use of the iPad by kids with special needs.

As full supporters of living a life without limits we continually look for ways that your children can communicate, learn and play effectively. Recently we have come across a couple applications that are innovative and that really work, and conveniently available on the iPad. Many special educators, speech pathologists and occupational therapists use these applications now and have seen positive results. These apps make communication fun and are great for kids with autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other special needs.

We are really excited to tell you about these apps! First we would like to introduce you to the Proloquo2Go. This is a product from Assistive Ware that provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty  speaking. It has a text to speech feature that will allow your child to type or select an action when they have a hard time communicating their needs or wants. This is also a learning tool for young toddlers so that they can learn their shapes, colors and expand on their vocabulary! UCP-OC has recently, through a Bellows Grant, provided 3 year-old Gabe with an iPad and Proloquo2Go application and his mother says, “He has blossomed with his speech production, and is now imitating words constantly and recognizes shapes, colors and the alphabet…Not only has the iPad improved his speech production, it has been a tool to help him learn and share with the rest of the world all he knows, even with limited speech abilities.”

You can find more information at this app is available on the iPad, iPhone and iTouch and is $189.

The second application we want to tell you about is called Tap to Talk and is similarly offered on Apple products as well as the Android, Nintendo DS and PCs. It is a yearly subscription for $99.95 and they offer a 30 day no questions asked trial. The program originates on your computer and the apps for your mobile devices come free. On this app your child has 2,500 pictures to choose from so he/she can organize and make their own albums. The text to speech option allows your child to speak to you, or allows you to record your own voice to different pictures to stimulate memory for your child.

For more information go to

Of course before making a purchase look at reviews online and try it out! These applications give children the opportunity to learn and share with the rest of the world despite their limited communication abilities. Allowing them to be independent…truly living life without limits!

written by: Elizabeth Wylie

Adaptive Sports for Special Needs

Hello friends! This upcoming month of March is Brain Injury Awareness month, so we will be centering our blog posts on education of the topic, activities available and encouragement to those of you who live with someone with brain injury.

Individuals that have brain injuries need specialized rehabilitation, lifelong management and individualized services and supports in order to live healthy, independent and satisfying lives. Here at UCP-OC we see that brain injury is not something that will hold a child back. Our mission is to serve the children of this community so that they may live Life Without Limits! At our facilities we offer physical therapy that addresses medical problems and injuries that affect a child’s ability to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives.

The mountains are a common winter getaway for many Orange County residents. Who doesn’t love the brisk mountain air, the picturesque snow capped mountains, or watching your child zoom down the mountain passing you as watchers by cheer for him/her? Over President’s weekend Cathy Collins and her daughters went to Mammoth for the weekend. They were all able to enjoy the snow and sports thanks to Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra. Her daughter Bridget was born three months premature and had many brain surgeries is diagnosed with Autism, Hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy, and she was able to shred up the mountainside with a professional instructor by her side. She was taken down the mountain with a Bi-Ski and people cheered for her when she passed by; truly encouraging moment for Cathy as she watched.

This program encourages children by allowing them to have the same opportunities, challenges and excitement at conquering the mountain slopes. They offer adaptive sports for special needs. People with physical or cognitive disabilities are able to have fun and healthy experiences in the mountains too! This organization is located in Mammoth, but not to worry there are other organizations around the area that can help your child experience the exhilaration of going down the mountain. These programs have adaptive equipment to fulfill every child’s dream of gliding down a mountain, or enjoying other outdoor activities such as a downhill wheelchair chair program to explore biking the back-country terrain.

If you are going up to Mammoth, Cathy would highly recommend Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra but there are other programs such as Disabled Sports USA Far West.

U.S. Adaptive Recreation Center is found in Big Bear and offers the same programs that had Bridget zooming down the mountain faster than her mom! 

It is important to give your child opportunities to experience new things and keep their brain stimulated and growing! By taking your child to the snow they can use all their senses and see things that Orange County doesn’t have to offer!

Most organizations have scholarships available, so don’t let the financials hold you back!



written by: Elizabeth Wylie

Early Intervention: A “Window of Opportunity” for Children

Brenda Sue Wright knows what it feels like to worry about her children. Of course all loving parents stress over their kids, but when your quadruplets are born 13 weeks early, the complications of premature birth for not just one, but FOUR children, and the risk of developmental delays leading to long-term disability can really take a toll on a parent. Below is a testimonial, written by Brenda Sue Wright, about her experience with her children and the helpful doctors at her hospital and the UCP-OC Early Intervention program.

“On May 4, 2007, I gave birth to quadruplet’s at 27 weeks gestation; Cassandra, Alexis, Lucas and Kenkaid. They were immediately placed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and put on ventilators to assist with their breathing. My children were born 13 weeks early! During those 13 weeks their lungs develop, they build body fat which helps their bodies regulate temperature, their brains create millions of neurons, and their muscles mature. My children did not get the 13 weeks that they needed for these important developments.

My children were born so early that their only chance for a normal life or life at all was early intervention. This Early Intervention would start with me as their mother then with the doctors and nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and finally to the amazing staff at United Cerebral Palsy.

United Cerebral Palsy became involved in my children’s life when they were about 4 months old and had been home for approximately a month. At this point, I had lost Kenkaid to an infection, Cassandra had received heart surgery to help close her PDA vein, Lucas had a heart murmur, and Alexis had stopped breathing on several occasions. All were going to have a hard time catching up with normal children that had been born closer to their due date. All three showed signs of developmental and physical delays. I wanted to make sure that I gave my children every opportunity possible to have some type of regular life, and UCP offered a chance to make a difference with their Early Intervention program.

At the time that I met the staff at UCP who would be working to help my children not only survive, but be the best they could be. I was fairly certain that my children were going to have serious delays. Pati Skinner and her co-workers at UCP started working with my children using infant stimulation, occupational, and physical therapy. Pati also instructed me on the progress that my children were making and the taught me what I could do to help it along. Pati and UCP were there when my daughter Alexis stopped eating and walked me through the process to get help with her eating. As time went on there were moments when I had real concerns that Alexis might be autistic or have some other type of developmental delay. Cassandra and Lucas started crawling a couple of months before Alexis. She had taken so long to smile and laugh, I was sure we were never going to be able to get her to crawl let alone walk. Pati and UCP did… all of a sudden my Alexis started crawling; then the next day (truly next day) she was walking. To me, this is a miracle.

Today, Cassandra, Lucas and Alexis have caught up developmentally and physically. It is amazing to see them excel in different activities. Cassandra is athletic and motherly, Alexis has the amazing memory and thinks she is the boss, Lucas is an adventurous boy who loves the world; all are healthy and happy. Without the Early Intervention Program that they received from UCP… THIS WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED. I have three healthy, happy, wacky and crazy two-year-olds that are strong both mind and body; due to the love and support of Pati and the staff at UCP. My hope for my children when my journey began with UCP was that they would be able to walk someday, perhaps even talk.

Today, I hope that they go after their dreams whatever they may be; there is nothing holding them back. Thank you Pati and UCP for helping my children be all they can be. I know that without your Early Intervention program I would be looking at three very different children.”

Brenda’s experience is remarkable, but she is certainly not the only one to have found her children in need of Early Intervention. A window of opportunity exists during the early years where these children, if properly cared for through programs like this, have the greatest hope of reaching their full potential. UCP-OC’s Early Intervention program has helped hundreds of children reach developmental milestones over the years, and often these children don’t require any further specialized education once they leave the program. In a recent assessment, a staggering 94% of children in UCP-OC’s Early Intervention program demonstrated clear progress in 3 out of 5 developmental areas. This is great news for the parents, great news for the children, and it eases the burden on social programs designed to help people in need of specialized care for years to come. Unfortunately, 56% of the children in UCP-OC’s Early Intervention will no longer qualify for these services as of the beginning of October. California’s recent budget crisis has forced the state to change eligibility requirements for infants and toddlers receiving Early Intervention, leaving dozens of families without a way to address their children’s developmental delays. This is truly unfortunate, as it increases the possibility that these children may require longer-term assistance, weighing heavily not only on the State’s budget in future years, but on the well-being of the families that care for them and the children themselves. How You Can Help UCP-OC has the staff, the expertise and the will to help these kids, but as of October 1 we will find ourselves short on funding. Please consider making a donation so that we may continue providing Early Intervention to those that it would help the most.