Steven“The party was a dream come true. I never thought this day would come… UCP-OC empowered me to experience a birthday party I thought might not be possible for my son.” – Verna Espinoza
Steven Espinoza is an 11 year-old with a sincere spirit that continually touches the lives of those around him. Steven has been diagnosed with highly-functioning autism. His mother, like many mothers, is an active advocate in the community to ensure Steven receives all that he needs to live a life without limits. This led the Espinoza family to United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County.
UCP-OC provides an inclusion facilitator that supports Steven in his after school program. With this support, Steven has experienced and participated in many new activities, interacting and communicating with his peers at a whole new level. Through these experiences he has developed many new interests and acquired skills that have helped him gain a higher level of independence. Throughout the past 2 1/2 years, Steven has also grown more confident in a social sense and has begun building friendships.
This year, for the first time, Steven had names of friends that he wanted to invite to his birthday party. He wanted to ask friends from his after school program; friends he made on his own with the support of his UCP-OC inclusion facilitator. They sent out five invitations, and all five came back. Verna said, “The party was a dream come true. I never thought this day would come; Steven horsing around with his buddies having a great time. It was so natural and so genuine. UCP-OC empowered me to experience this birthday party that I thought might not be possible for my son.”
Steven plays on an AYSO VIP soccer team, coached by his father Pete. Pete has seen changes in Steven’s understanding and ability as a team player. Instead of getting the ball and trying to make a goal every time, Steven has begun to recognize the value of passing the ball to a teammate. Pete said, “Steven’s inclusion facilitator recognized Steven’s athletic interests and abilities, she supported his participation in a variety of team sports opportunities in his after school program. I was uncertain how he would do or even fit in on typical sports teams but I was excited and thankful once I saw how it benefited him in so many ways.” UCP-OC empowered Pete to experience his son’s success and growth in trying and/or joining new activities.
Through the support of his inclusion facilitator Steven continues to discover new interests and abilities, build friendships and create more “birthday party” memories for Verna and Pete.