December 2012: Wyatt

This month we are celebrating Wyatt, AND we want to share with you his video. In this video you can see his family’s journey and the difference UCP-OC has made in Wyatt’s life.

Please consider making a gift to UCP-OC this season to make a differentce in the life of a child. You can make your gift at www.ucp-oc.org/give.

November 2012: Wyatt

Four years ago, we noticed our sweet 6 month-old son missing developmental milestones, and we began to search frantically for a cause. Our answer was clear, yet one we struggled to accept. Our son, Wyatt, was diagnosed with hypotonic cerebral palsy.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is damage to the brain that affects the overall muscular skeletal system. For Wyatt this presents itself in very low muscle tone as he has difficulties balancing and holding himself up, and in his speech, gross and fine motor skills. Daily life is fatiguing for our son.

With his diagnosis looming over us, we worried would he be able to go to school and have the same opportunities as any child? How do we as a family support him? The years for early intervention are critical, and we didn’t know where to begin.

Jemi and I discovered the search for services is multifaceted and complex. After three years of Wyatt receiving therapy at many different therapy offices we began to see a disconnect. His care was fragmented. Therapists were not talking to each other about what Wyatt needed, and he began to stagnate and regress in his abilities. Our dreams for him seemed out of reach as we saw the opportunities for early intervention fading because we were going to the wrong places.

With a sigh of relief, last year we found a center where Wyatt receives all the services he needs in one place; a place with clinical and social support; a place that could answer our family’s questions, a place that feels like home. We found United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC).

One year later, and Wyatt is making progress at UCP-OC! Wyatt receives physical therapy that is helping him to walk confidently on his own, go up and down steps and keep up with those around him. Occupational therapy helps with his play and fine motor skills, such as holding a crayon to color and dealing with changing social environments so he can experience his peers to their fullest and to make friends.

Today Wyatt attends school and participates in the classroom with his friends. He feels like everyone around him, and as a parent that is all we as can ask for.Without UCP-OC Wyatt would not be making the strides he is, and would have difficulties interacting with other children. Our fears would have become a reality if it was not for the intervention, care and therapy from UCP-OC.

We have new hopes and dreams for Wyatt, and we are seeing these become a reality with the help of United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. Wyatt has a bright future of more growth.

Will you please join with us in making a gift to UCP-OC, to make a difference in the life of a child, like our Wyatt? Your donation will help make this happen. By sending in your gift or going online at www.ucp-oc.org/getinvolved/give, you can make an impact on a child’s life today.

Thank you for making a difference in the life of our child.

Jemileth & Mark Dipko
Proud Parents of Wyatt

PS: Please give what you can to support a child, a family and a community. Send your donation to UCP-OC today!


October 2012: Celine

Celine is a very happy and sociable 11 year-old, but over the years Celine has overcome many challenges. When she was only 4 months old, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor on her right brain. A surgery was performed to remove the tumor, and another surgery to place a shunt in her brain. As a result of the tumor and surgeries, Celine is left with mild cerebral palsy. Today Celine loves to sing, dance and is very observant of others needs and wants to assist in any way she is able.

After finding out about United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County by way of a flyer, her mother brought Celine to UCP-OC to try out one of our dance recreation classes. Two and a half years later Celine has added gymnastics and Fit Kids to her class schedule. “Gymnastics and the other recreation classes have helped her with her gross motor skills and improved with her coordination, it’s a form of therapy that is disguised to her. She is having fun while socializing and creating relationships with her peers,” states her mother.

This August, Celine participated in our 5th Annual Bike Camp in partnership with Down Syndrome Association of OC. For one week Celine and 40 other children were taught how to ride a bike independently. Campers learned gradually how to ride by using specially adapted bikes that teach the children balance. On the last day the children were given the opportunity to go outside and practice their newfound skill. Through the experience not only did Celine learn how to ride a bike, but it encouraged her older brother to learn as well!

A special thank you to Easton Bell Sports for generously donating bicycle helmets to ensure the safety of our children and to Soka University for donating their gym for the week.

If you would like to make a gift to support the services that are helping Celine and her family please click here or contact Elizabeth Wylie at ewylie@ucp-oc.org for more information.


August 2012: Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a laid back and fun-loving 1 year-old that meets with Ana Reyes, one of our in-home early intervention specialists. Elizabeth “Bethie” was born with Down syndrome and spent her first 2 months of life in the hospital learning how to feed. When she finally got home she began to thrive!

Wherever Elizabeth goes, she is everyone’s favorite. She loves being held by all the different women at church. He mother Denette says, “Elizabeth is perfect for our family, she is our second child and makes our family feel complete.”

When Ana comes to work with Elizabeth they work on different activities to stimulate Elizabeth’s brain to continue growing and thriving. This includes working on fine & gross motor skills, cognation, communication, social & emotional interactions and other different areas of development. Some of the activities Ana does with Elizabeth are taking pegs out of a peg board to work on fine motor, strengthen cognitive skills by encouraging her to imitate facial gestures and making works of arts through finger painting to increase tactile stimulation. She has taught Bethie new skills and in turn taught her parents how to continue to develop those skills when Elizabeth is not in therapy.

Ana Reyes has been with United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County for 25 years this month, and we are so grateful for her commitment to our families. Elizabeth is one of more than 2,500 children & families that Ana has worked with.

“We have been blessed with the opportunity to work with Ana. Ana is an angel sent to us; we absolutely love her! She has opened our eyes to the abilities Bethie has. Bethie is able to do much more than I thought!” -Denette, Elizabeth’s mother

Thank you Ana for all you do with our children, Happy 25 Years!! 


July2012: Savi

Savi loves to pop bubbles. With each bubble she pops comes a round of applause from the gleeful Savi.

Savi Costa is a 22 month-old little girl with an infectious smile, loving spirit and has a fascination with the beads Miss Beth puts in front of her to grab. She loves to read and while her mother is reading to her. She pretends she is reading out loud right along with mom.

Savi was born with Down syndrome, and has received Early Intervention services from UCP-OC since she was 2 months old. She receives physical, occupational and speech therapy at UCP-OC and she loves her time with Beth, Christine and Ria. Speech therapy works to expand her vocabulary and develop expressive language to assist her in communicating. For occupational therapy, Ria works with her fine motor skills and eating. Recently, she began using a sippy cup on her own!In her current physical therapy sessions she works on putting her weight on her legs. In February 2012, she was fitted with orthotics through United Way’s funding.  Before receiving these orthotics, she could not bear weight on her feet; now, when wearing her orthotics, she stands nicely with hands held and has begun taking 3-5 steps forward with minimal assistance.  The orthotics also decrease knee hyperextension. 


Her parents are extremely grateful for her services and the orthotics, as they believe this intervention has made such a significant improvement in her life. One of UCP-OC’s next goal for Savi is to have her stand with letting go to whatever is holding her up. We know she can do it!


June 2012: 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.


May 2012: Liam

 Liam is a very courageous little boy who will never be defeated, but will try something until he finishes it. His courageous spirit has inspired his nickname of “Little Lion Man” around his family. Liam can always be found with a smile on his face and laughter in his heart.


“He’s our little lion man”

Liam was diagnosed with a mild form of cerebral palsy (CP) and left torticollis. His CP presents itself on his left-side, making daily tasks more challenging for him, and causes eating and speech impairments. After trying other therapy programs, he was referred to UCP-OC. “It was night and day” says his mother Gina, “When he comes to UCP-OC, he knows that we are trying to help.”  Liam currently attends physical therapy and occupational therapy at UCP-OC. The physical and occupational therapy has made a great difference in Liam’s symmetry of the left and right side of his body and his fine motor skills. His therapists are wonderful with Liam, and have made a significant impact on what Liam is able to do today.   

Recently, he started receiving speech therapy with Christine, and in only 2 months he has made tremendous strides. At the time of his evaluation he had only a few words, a few signs and rarely produced any sounds other than single vowel sounds when reaching for a desired object. In addition to his expressive language delays Liam presented with a facial asymmetry caused in part from his medical history of left torticollis and CP. Liam’s speech therapy is focused on stretching and strengthening of the oral muscles, creating a balance among the facial muscles, increasing the number of words and sounds he produces and making his speech sound clearer. Every week Liam has surprised us with new sounds and words and he has recently taken to performing some of his oral motor therapy on himself!

 While speech therapy may look like fun and games to an outsider, each activity has a purpose behind it. Liam doesn’t realize that the chocolate pudding placed on his upper lip is being used to increase his lingual range of motion and strength, or that the lollypop inside his cheek is being used to release some of the excess tension, he just knows that it tastes yummy! All of our therapy is play based. Liam’s current favorite activity is taking the toys for a swim in the “wawa” where we have been able to add quite a few new words over a bucket of water.  Liam has surpassed all of his speech goals and is a true testament to the power of early identification, intervention and family involvement.

 Gina says that Liam’s twin sister, Gianna, has also been a big part of Liam’s progress. Gianna is always pushing Liam to work harder at home and won’t let him give up. Liam loves to follow his sister around the house to prove that no matter what she does, he can do it too.    

Liam has been a fighter all of his life and with the help of UCP-OC, his family and of course his sister Gianna’s great example we know that there isn’t anything he couldn’t do!



April: Dylan

Dylan is a determined 4 year-old boy, who has a spirit filled with joy, and a face that is always adorned with a smile and the cutest dimples. To match his determination, he is quite the accomplished daredevil. Despite his young age and physical restrictions, at the age of three he learned to ride a bike so that he could ride with his older brother Max, who is a tremendous inspiration. He has also enjoys learning to ski with his twin sister, Maya. His big sister, Carly, keeps him inspired to play soccer as well.

After trying various therapy centers, Dylan’s family finally found UCP-OC and settled in immediately. In the past year and a half Dylan has been coming to UCP-OC, he has been working on relaxing and strengthening the compromised muscles that accompany his CP. Dylan’s cerebral palsy presents itself through resistance on the left side of his body in his foot, ankle, leg, scapula, arm, wrist, and hand, making some daily activities more difficult for him to accomplish.

At UCP-OC, he receives occupational and physical therapy to stretch and strengthen his affected muscles. His occupational therapist, Kristy, helps him with his fine motor skills, such as writing, coloring, working with Play-Doh, scissoring and buttoning shirts. She plays a game with him which she places a penny in the palm of his hand and he must try to grasp it with his fingers to strengthen the muscles in his fingers and hand.  Dylan’s physical therapist, Emily, helps Dylan’s flexibility and strength with activities like walking on the treadmill, “skateboarding” on his belly, and ascending and descending stairs. His mom, Sarah, says both therapists make sessions fun and engaging for Dylan and that he responds to the creative ways they find to keep him interested and challenged to do the work he needs to do.  She finds comfort in their genuine care and expertise. As an extension to the work UCP-OC does with Dylan, his mom does a variety of stretching exercises with him, and tries to keep him surrounded by a variety of other activities at home,  such as rope climbing and jumping on a trampoline. Dylan also enjoys other mainstream sports outside of UCP-OC, and has excelled in swimming, as well as gymnastics and dance.

His parents are very grateful for the genuine care and concern the therapists have for Dylan, and how they look out for him and his active future. His mother, Sarah, also appreciates UCP-OC’s administrative help managing insurance and financials. Another thing Sarah highlighted is how she appreciates the spacious, bright and clean lobby waiting area. This provides a place where she can take a moment to relax and connect with other parents. It also provides a place where Dylan’s twin, Maya, can play while waiting for her brother.

It is Sarah’s hope that with the help of therapy, Dylan will continue to participate in daily activities and enjoy a variety of sports (and hopefully music!) without CP getting in his way. To continue truly living his Life Without Limits-riding his bike with Max and his dad, skiing with Maya and playing soccer with Carly.








March: Alyna

Alyna is the youngest of four and unlike many of our children, was carried to full term and born at 7lbs. At nine months, her doctor discovered that she was not meeting her milestones; her arms and legs were locked and she didn’t move from side to side. One week after finding out she had CP, the family was at UCP-OC for her evaluation. The family acted quickly on their neurologist Dr. McIntosh’s suggestion, “You need to go to UCP-OC, they are specialists in treating children and babies with disabilities.” She is working with Kristy and Lisa on relaxing the muscles that are keeping her from moving her arms and legs. At 18 months she is now moving her limbs and the family has witnessed her first complete roll-over.

Her mother, Adriana, remembers the experience as being terrifying and very emotional, but the therapists were great at getting her to understand in detail what to expect with Alyna and they never lost patience with her many questions.  For a mother that knew nothing about the journey of having a child with special needs, UCP-OC helped her understand in detail what to do with her daughter to help her meet her milestones.

Adriana knew nothing about the journey with a child a disabilities, and is very grateful for the support she found at UCP-OC. Alyna recently, received (very cute, pink) orthotics from United Way that will help her standing and walking on her own. 

Alyna receives support through a grant given by the United Way of Orange County. The grant supplies families that qualify, funding for UCP-OC’s Early Intervention program as well as orthotics if needed. Alyna is still getting used to her orthotics, but we are very excited to see the impact it will make in her progression towards walking.

Alyna is known at UCP-OC for making the cutest faces. Her “stinkeye” will let you know exactly what she is thinking, as they say actions speak louder than words. Well in Alyna’s case looks speak much louder than words. She is very determined, and if she get something the first time she will keep trying.   



“UCP-OC brings the strength out of a mom.” – Adriana

 February 2012: Damian & Victoria

Taking a look at the picture to your left I am sure you have noticed that this month is not just one child of the month. No, this month is double the fun with Damian and Victoria, the children of the month for February!  “Victoria and Damian were brought into this world much too early, much too small and very sick. They were born at only 27 weeks weighing only 2lbs each.”  As parents, Miriam and David had to watch as their children fought for their life. Between the two children, everything that could happen to a newborn did, and it was four months before the parents could bring both healthy children home. 

The months and years to come brought new obstacles the twins had to overcome, but each obstacle was met with the help of UCP-OC. Around one years-old the twins were showing signs of delayed development and a family’s PT friend referred the family to UCP-OC. She simply said, “get connected and get over there. You are looking for the best therapy and you will find it there.”

Both children came to UCP-OC for PT with Moira and Melanie, soon they began some OT with Myra, Infant Stimulation with Ria and most recently Speech with Patty and Christine. With this dream team, the twins worked on starting to crawl, fine and gross motor skills and speaking. Soon they started crawling and now they are cruising around the lobby walking greeting everyone they can.

Victoria and Damian love it at UCP-OC, and look forward to their sessions with their friends at UCP-OC.

Damian and Victoria are two peas in a pod, I dare to say they are opposites that keep each other going. Damian is cautious and calculated. He analyzes each situation before making a move. Although he may be the rule follower, he is also the snuggler of the family and will shower love on those around him. Victoria is the dare-devil. She will climb anything, and there is no stopping her. She is not what you would call a “lap child” but rather she is more cautious to show affection…unless you are a member of UCP-OC, then she will love on you!


The Daboub family is the first family walking in the OC Marathon on Team UCP-OC Families for their two children and to raise money for UCP-OC. 

“Now at almost two years old our babies are doing everything two years should be.  Thanks to the help of UCP of Orange County our babies have reached all of the milestones that we were once told may never happen.

On May 6th, 2012, we will be walking the 5K in the OC Marathon…. Not only in celebration of our miracle babies, but to help raise much needed awareness and funds for UCP-OC.  They need our help in order to continue offering these great services to so many children in need in our community.  So join Team UCP-OC Families and let’s help this wonderful place so many kids depend on.”

-Miriam & David


January 2012: Abby

Abby has been a miracle from day one.

She is a surviving twin born at 23 weeks and 6 days, less than 1.5lbs and a just shy of 12 inches. Due to the prematurity of Abby, the doctors told her parents not to expect her to cry or make any noises in the delivery room. Much to everyone’s surprise Abby let out a cry in the delivery room, and she has been beating the odds ever since.

Abby is a testament to the importance of Early Intervention. The family started with in-home services before moving to California, and upon moving they have moved to inside UCP-OC’s facilities. Her parents felt a connection with UCP-OC from the moment they stepped into our Life Without Limits Therapy Center for a tour. Her mother has fought for her insurance to allow them to bring Abby here.

She comes into the Life Without Limits Therapy Center for Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy with Moira and Melanie. During physical therapy she is learning how to use each leg independently of the other, disassociation of the legs. Like many of the children here, she spends much of her time at UCP-OC working on strengthening her core. She has an incredible motivation to walk, so they work the treadmill with a harness that holds her core so she can work on the motion of walking. Abby has also started wearing orthotics so that her foot is forced in her shoe and she can move past the treadmill and walk on her own!

Abby has fought everyday to be at the place she is. Her determination has allowed her to catch up to normal height, weight and cognitive abilities of other children her age. She has surpassed her doctor’s diagnoses and expectations. She truly is the “Little Engine that could!”



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s