March 2014: Ruby

 IMG_2638Ruby is sassy, determined and has a smile that can break down even the most stubborn of attitudes. Ruby joined her family through the loving choice of adoption. Her parents, Rebecca and Chris, patiently waited for a child with Down syndrome and feel very blessed that they were chosen to be her parents.

From the beginning of Ruby’s adoption, Rebecca and Chris knew they wanted their daughter to come to UCP-OC. At just 3 months-old Ruby began receiving Early Intervention services, which is one of the main contributing factors to where Ruby is developmentally today.

Ruby has experienced many firsts at UCP-OC including her first feeding off the bottle facilitated by her occupational therapist, Ms. Jane. Her strong-willed nature helps her to continue progressing and reaching for the next milestone! At 12 months, Ruby had a defining moment during physical therapy. Ruby had been observing how to stand for a while, and in that moment on the swing with Moira she conquered the motion of standing. The pure joy and certainty in her face will forever be a memorable moment for Rebecca; “in that moment she knew what she could do; she looked at me with eyes that said, ‘Look, I can do so much!’”

Ruby Standing
Ruby realizing she can stand for the first time!

Today she is developmentally on track in all disciplines with great thanks, Rebecca says, to her therapists Jane, Moira, Pati; and to UCP-OC’s proactive coordination to make sure she receives all the therapy she needs.

Occupational therapist Jane is working on improving her oral motor skills by; increasing tongue lateralization to both sides, increasing jaw movements for biting and chewing and decreasing tongue thrust for feeding. She is also working on improving her fine motor and visual motor skills for age appropriate play.

In physical therapy, Ruby is on the move! Her PT Moira works with her to crawl on all fours using both legs and arms reciprocally while going over obstacles and up stairs, pulling up to a kneeling positioning and starting to push up into a standing position. Most recently, she has started to take a couple of steps forward with trunk support!
During speech therapy Ms. Pati is working on having Ruby imitate single and two-syllable sounds while interacting with adult eye contact. She can say “bye bye” “hi” and “dadda.” She plays with cause and affect toys; for example, when she places a ball into a toy box she will wave and say “bye-bye.”

Outside of UCP-OC you will find Ruby very content and happy when on a walk saying “hi” to all who pass; and she is always ready to cuddle with her siblings Hayden, Vincent and sister Mei Mei.

Dennis Kuhl with Ruby
Ruby welcoming Dennis Kuhl with her mother Rebecca.

On Thursday, March 20th smiling Ruby welcomed Dennis Kuhl, Chairman of Angels Baseball, to UCP-OC. Dennis has been a tremendous supporter of UCP-OC for more than 7 years, and we are very proud to be honoring him at the Life Without Limits Gala this year. Ruby could not have been happier to welcome Dennis into her speech therapy session, which was taking place in the therapy room named in loving memory of Bud Kuhl, Dennis’ father.

“UCP-OC has and will always be an instrumental part of our lives. The love and support is  tremendous. I can’t imagine this journey without the therapists at UCP. They have really become part of our family celebrating the accomplishments and supporting a plan for the challenges”
–Rebecca & Chris


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

Lance: February 2014

Lance in Speech Therapy at UCP-OC
Lance during Speech Therapy at UCP-OC

Lance is almost 3 years-old, and his bubbling personality and joyous spirit will capture your heart immediately. Lance loves trains, and his favorite food is pizza—with heartfelt thanks to his occupational therapist, Ria, who has introduced him successfully to a variety of foods. At therapy, Lance loves to finger paint and do any arts and crafts project. As a Laguna Beach native, keep an eye out for his art work in the Sawdust Festival in a few years!

Sweet, smiling Lance came to UCP-OC at 20 months of age. Prior to receiving therapy at UCP-OC, Lance’s vocabulary was limited to 3 words. His speech therapist, Jeanné, worked diligently with Lance on requesting labeled objects, participating in reciprocal interaction through modeling and play, and strategies to facilitate conversation.  Then one day, after several months of speech therapy, there was a language breakthrough! Lance imitated a word “ma-ma” and then he started imitating more and more words. One of Lance’s favorite activities during therapy is to play in the bean bucket. Jeanne hides objects in the beans and Lance digs through the beans to find and label the hidden treasures. This allows his therapist to further work on labeling nouns and verbs and peer interaction. Today, Lance has greatly improved his receptive and expressive language skill and says multiple word sentences, even using past tense verbs!

After coming to UCP-OC for speech and occupational therapy, Lance joined the very popular Let’s Grow group class with Miss Ana and most recently joined the Talk, Play, Learn group with Miss Pati.

His occupational therapist, Ria, worked with Lance in improving his oral motor skills in order to manage textured foods safely. Prior to his intervention, Lance tended to swallow whole pieces of food without chewing it. Due to this Lance’s diet was limited to mushy textured, stage 3 baby foods. After several months of therapy, Lance is now able to enjoy most toddler foods, but he prefers them in pizza form!

Lance with Brother
Lance with his brother Clayton

Recently Lance became a big brother and is already impressing everyone around him at how nurturing and attentive he is to his baby brother Clayton.

Lance will be turning three at the end of February and will be transitioning out of UCP-OC and into the school district. As difficult as it is to see his smiling face go, it is a true testament to the superior work and dedication our therapists have shown Lance!

Lance Child of the Month and Family

Lance’s mother, Laura Lee, says, Ria, Jeanné, Ana and Pati have been absolutely fantastic with Lance these past 17 months. The changes we have seen in Lance have been nothing short of a miracle, and we will be ever grateful to Lance’s therapists and all of the wonderful people at UCP-OC, including Vianney who was so quick to find Lance a spot when our RCOC case worker inquired; the occupational speech therapist who first assessed Lance in October 2012; Anais who amazes me daily with her sweet disposition and quick, genuine smile; and the many parents I have met who encourage their children and are ever so busy with their toddlers’ schedules but never complain. UCP-OC truly is an amazing place!”

January 2014: Kolby

UCP-OC Child of the Month_Kolby“Gotta say hello to the ladies!”

Kolby is a 6 year-old charmer who already knows the value of making the rounds to say hello to the ladies.  If his charm and drawing personality doesn’t get you, his smile will. Kolby’s infectious smile will turn any day around! Three years ago Kolby entered UCP-OC’s doors suffering from very tight muscles that make it difficult to do even the simplest movements we take for granted.

Kolby has a genetic disorder known as chondrodysplasia punctata x-linked recessive. One of the symptoms of this disorder is cervical stenosis of the spine (narrowing of the spinal canal).  In fact it was so narrow that it was compressing his spinal cord 60% at the C-1 vertebrae level. He was able to have surgery to correct the compression, however the damage done is what he has to battle every day.

Physical Therapy_United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County As a part of his “battle team” are UCP-OC Therapists, Lisa Kerfoot (PT), Frances (OT) and Cori (PT).  When first coming to UCP-OC Kolby was not able to use a walker to get around but had to rely on someone else to move.  At UCP-OC, therapy is play based and his PT and OT appointments include having him walk around the office in his walker greeting everyone, activities that make him reach  and stretch his arms and torso such as playing with cars, games and activities that work on his balance and encouraging him to walk on his own. Since coming to therapy he uses his walker everywhere and he just took his monumental first steps without his walker!

Kolby’s mother, Danielle, says that she is “constantly encouraged by the other families in the lobby and has found comfort in hearing other families’ journeys. Kolby loves coming to UCP-OC and looks forward to his play time with his therapists.”

UCP-OC intrigued Danielle not only for the superior Therapy, but also for the variety of services UCP-OC provides the community. Specifically speaking, she was very interested in UCP-OC’s recreational classes after school. These classes encourage fitness and explore a child or teen’s creativity through painting and drawing. It also gives them an avenue for important social opportunities that are not commonly offered for children with disabilities. This past fall Kolby participated in soccer through the VIP program in AYSO and he was able to score goals and earn his first trophy!



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