Carter is Stepping Up For UCP-OC

Carter
Carter, all smiles in physical therapy.

In honor of STEPtember, which starts today, we’re highlighting Carter, an absolutely adorable two-and-a-half-year-old with global developmental delay who receives physical, occupational and speech therapy and participates in Talk Play Learn group at UCP-OC. His family has committed to walk 10,000 steps per day from September 2-29 to raise funds and awareness for UCP-OC.

At two months of age, Carter’s parents, Melissa and Brian, together with his pediatrician, noticed his visual impairment, At four months, when his vision had not improved, he began wearing glasses to correct his vision and started therapy to help him reach developmental milestones. His impaired vision has led to some considerable delays for Carter, but this happy, tenacious little guy doesn’t mind hard work. Melissa shared that “Carter has made significant strides in all areas of his development with the help of his team at UCP-OC. As a parent, every trip to UCP-OC is my favorite, because upon arrival, Carter can hardly contain his excitement because he knows where he is headed. This reaction alone is remarkable for our family.”

“While typical children are scheduling play dates and other activities, our children’s lives are about therapies. I say children’s because Carter’s little brother Jackson, who is 10 months old, attends every session.  We spend a lot of time at UCP-OC and are grateful it is a home away from home for us. The support and love we receive from everyone is amazing. UCP-OC has really given our son a great opportunity to reach a Life Without Limits,” said Melissa.

Some of Carter’s favorite things include swimming, going for walks, spending any moment possible with our whole family, playing with his little brother and bath time.

Carter with his therapist
Carter with his occupational therapist, Jenn

His therapists Vanessa and Jenn recently took Carter to the park for a co-treatment session in celebration of all he has accomplished in the last few months. By having multiple disciplines all under one roof, UCP-OC’s team of exceptional therapists and child development professionals work together to ensure each child has the services needed to reach their full potential. Carter also receives speech therapy one-on-one with Megan and in group with Pati. Jenn shared  “I am so proud to have such an incredible group of co-workers like Vanessa, Megan, and Pati and kiddos like Carter that continue to amaze me every day. It’s the teamwork that makes the dream work!”

Carter still has work to do catch up developmentally, but he is making great progress and has the support he needs to do so. We can’t wait to see what he will do next! As Melissa said, “he is our biggest inspiration and driving force. If Carter can do it, it can be done. ” And Carter has proven he can do anything he puts his mind to.

Carter and his family are Stepping Up for UCP-OC so that children like Carter have access to the services they need to thrive. Join in this Steptember to improve your health and wellness and help children with disabilities live a Life Without Limits. Create a team of 4 and challenge yourself to take 10,000 steps per day until September 29. Or show your support of Carter’s family by making a donation in their name here.

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UCP-OC 2014 Life Without Limits Gala Video

Recent studies show a staggering statistic that 1 in 6 children in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a developmental disability. UCP-OC proudly serves the 1 in 6 children in our community that make up this statistic.

 

Learn more about the services UCP-OC provides:

Child of the Month: January 2014

January 2014: Kolby

“Gotta say hello to the ladies!”

UCP-OC Physical_and_Occupational_Therapies
Kolby and his mother, Danielle.

Kolby is a 6 year-old charmer who already knows the value of making the rounds to say hello to the ladies.  If his charisma and drawing personality doesn’t get you, his smile will. Kolby’s infectious grin 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.

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 and Physical Therapist Cori.
Kolby and Physical Therapist Cori.

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!

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

Physical Therapy Month

pediatrictherapyIn honor of National Physical Therapy Month (yay October!), we want to do a fun/informative post.

10 signs that you’re a Pediatric Physical Therapist

10- You are used to answering the question, “What?? Why do kids need physical therapy?” after someone asks what you do.
9- You get excited to wear fun socks to work because let’s face it, you barely wear your shoes at work anyway.
8- No matter how your hair is styled for the day, by the end of the day, your hair will be tied back in a pony tail.
7- You have your standard 5 nursery rhyme songs you know by heart and can sing all day long.
6- You have at least 1 toy rolling around in your car.
5- You’re a pro at walking in a squatting position and walking backwards down stairs.
4- You are able to use 1 toy for a minimum of 5 different activities.
3- You know how to sign for “more” and “all done.” (you probably just read this again and did the sign with your hands )
2– You’ve developed cat-like reflexes to dodge flying toys and to catch falling children.
andddd last but not least!
1- You still get excited every time one of your patients reaches a new milestone

–Lisa Kerfoot, Physical Therapist, DPT, Manager of Therapy Services

 

Make sure to tell our physical therapists how much you love and appreciate them! You can leave a comment on the blog and they will see it.

World CP Day, Child of the Month: October 2013

October 2013: Wyatt

With World CP Day being this past Wednesday, October 2nd we thought it would be fun to feature a very special boy with CP again and give you a bit of an update on what the therapists at UCP-OC are currently working on to make sure he lives a Life Without Limits!   

On World CP Day:

Please join us as we recognize and celebrate the many families and children we serve with cerebral palsy! As United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County, World CP Day is a wonderful opportunity for us to share our appreciation for your support of our organization.  We are honored to serve children with any developmental disability while we pride ourselves on our expertise in treating children with Cerebral Palsy.

We hope this day will lead to many more opportunities to acknowledge and support our families throughout the community that have children with many different disabilities.

We know World CP Day was Wednesday, but here is how you can get involved still:

  1. Post your idea to change the world for people with cerebral palsy!The best ideas will be given to inventors, to turn dreams into reality at www.worldcpchallenge.org
  2. Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and even YouTube Channel!
  3. Share this story with a friend or on your Facebook.

On Wyatt Review & Update:

Five 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.

It is estimated that over 600,000 children and adults in the U.S. manifest one or more of the symptoms of CP. Currently 8,000 babies and infants are diagnosed with the condition each year.

Cerebral palsy (CP) is damage to the brain, occurring during fetal development; before, during or shortly following birth; or during infancy, that affects the overall muscular skeletal system. CP is characterized by an inability to fully control motor function, particularly muscle control and coordination.

For Wyatt this presents itself in very low muscle tone resulting in 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 were worried. Would he be able to go to school and have the same opportunities as any child? My wife 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 found UCP-OC and were able to breathe a sigh of relief. His care is no longer fragmented and Wyatt receives all the services he needs in one place.

United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County (UCP-OC) is a place with clinical and social support; a place that could answer our family’s questions; a place that feels like home. All therapies are play based to encourage a fun and motivating atmosphere.

Wyatt_TireswingPhysical Therapy: Wyatt receives physical therapy that is helping him to walk confidently on his own, go up and down steps and keep up with his peers. His physical therapist, Cori, has Wyatt ride swings for vestibular stimulation and to work on core strength. On the tire swing he strengthens his core and lower extremities by leaning over to pick up toys on the floor.

Occupational Therapy: OT helps Wyatt 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.

Speech Therapy: Wyatt no longer receives speech and language therapy, however many children with CP have difficulties with their speech. Therapists work on strengthening speech articulators (tongue, lip and cheek muscles) as well as breath support to help facilitate speech. Many of the children practice their speech skills with the help of an iPad.

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

Sincerely,

Jemileth & Mark Dipko

Proud Parents of Wyatt

Child of the Month: July

July 2013: Kiaan

KiaanJuly’s Child of the Month is a very special boy at UCP-OC for many reasons, and we wanted to celebrate him on his birthday month!

Kiaan was born on July 4th, and he just celebrated his third birthday! Kiaan is a micro preemie, being born 15 weeks early. The first 4 months of his life was spent in the NICU with his family by his side. With every day having new fears and uncertainties, Kiaan’s parents Neha and Jesse consider him their miracle baby.

Being born on a day with fireworks must play into his playful personality. Countless times his mother Neha has caught him “just being playful” teasing the dog at home. Luckily we haven’t experienced his cunning tricks during therapy yet! He couples his teasing with his heart-warming smile; which normally works pretty well for him. Despite all his hard work in the past 3 years he is one of the happiest children I have seen, although that is not what caught my eye; it is his deep concern for others that truly impresses me. Though he has gone through so much he is constantly concerned with the children around him and will try to comfort a distressed friend in his own special way.

At nine months-old, Kiaan’s parents began to see milestones being missed and brought him to United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. One of the first services they used was Moira’s Let’s Grow class. Let’s Grow is a developmental play group for parents and their infants/toddlers (birth to 36 months). The class works on helping children reach their developmental milestones, foster growth and socialization skills, while educating parents. Kiaan also comes for occupational therapy, physical therapy and now speech therapy at UCP-OC.

Kiaan’s Occupational Therapist, Jane, incorporated sensory/tactile play with various textured toys as well as bean and rice bins to address Kiaan’s tactile defensiveness and textural aversions.  Feeding was a challenge for Kiaan and during sessions, Jane slowly introduced different food textures to encourage interaction with foods and eventually eating those foods without aversions.  Kiaan made good progress and at the age of 2 and a half, Kiaan was able to join his parents at the dinner table and eat table foods, just like his parents!

Currently, his speech therapists are working on introducing new sounds and words to his vocabulary. Neha is anxiously awaiting him to learn the coveted  word “mommy.” A word we hope he learns soon!

Family with KiaanNeha knows that Kiaan is working hard to meet developmental goals with the therapists at UCP-OC, giving their family a sense of normalcy.

“UCP-OC is our security blanket. The therapists jump at our concerns and make sure Kiaan is progressing like he should. Kiaan doesn’t know he is working, it is all play time with his friends to him. We very grateful and blessed that we can bring our son to UCP-OC. The journey is easier and doesn’t feel like we are on a roller coaster of emotions every day.” –Neha

A VERY Happy Third Birthday to our friend Kiaan! 

Neha and Jesse are one of our many grateful families that have given back to UCP-OC in many different ways. Neha has joined one of our guilds raising funds, spreading awareness and running the silent auction at the Life Without Limits Gala. We thank Neha & Jesse for their continued support and donations over the years in gratitude for the role UCP-OC has played in their lives.

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

Written by: Elizabeth Eckman

A Mother’s Reflection on UCP-OC

In a class assignment, one of our parents was asked to describe how parents of children “go through” the stages of grief. After sharing her heartfelt and emotional answer on how she views UCP-OC, we were left speechless and eager to share with our families. We hope you enjoy it and can connect with her feelings. Please leave a comment to share with Adriana!

 I have four daughters. My two oldest have ADHD and my youngest child was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Reading each stage reminded me of the day that I was told of my youngest having Cerebral Palsy. For me it didn’t feel like stages were the best word to describe the emotions it was more like waves. When the doctor first told me it felt like I was standing on the beach seeing this giant tsunami coming right towards me. I looked to the side and saw my three oldest Alyna daughters playing in the sand with their dad making sand castles. I have my baby in my arms and start to run as fast as I can away from the tsunami (shock, denial).  I run towards my family, I saw a little canoe with some life jackets and yell at them to get the jackets on…the same time praying that the wave doesn’t kill us.(fear, anxiety) The wave hit and knocked me down and I couldn’t breath.(depressed, stressed, guilt, hopelessness) I felt like I was drowning, I was kicking and trying to swim to keep my head above water. I had no more strength to keep swimming and I couldn’t breathe. Right before I start to sink God sends a lifeguard. The life guard puts you on his lifeboat and takes you back to shore, talks to you,  gives you techniques you will need, and shows you where to find some answers. You look up and see your baby’s face. It looks like the sun setting on the beach; that moment when the sun hits the water and it’s the most beautiful sight ever. You know that you are going to have to face the ocean of waves again but this time you do research and use all the resource available such as therapy for the baby, support group for the family, online classes etc. You turn around and there it is again, the Tsunami building strength, but the difference is you don’t have a canoe or life jackets, instead you build a submarine. You help your family in and right before you shut the lid to this steel, strong submarine you look straight at the wave and think BRING IT!

 

                                                        –Written By Adriana, mother of Alyna

Please click here to find out how you can make an impact on children like Alyna and mothers like Adriana!

Child of the Month: March 2013

IMG_0800Melanie: March 2013

From my first interaction with Melanie I could see that she has a sense of adventure that cannot be rivaled…or stifled! Melanie’s curiosity brings her into many a unique situation, but it is her ingenuity & problem solving skills that really astound me. When she has her mind-set to do something she will think of any clever way to complete that task; she is very determined. Her determination presents itself in all aspects of her life even in her consideration and love for those around her. Melanie wants those around her to know she cares and many times she shows this in her helpfulness. She likes to help out with the chores around the house, and her mother turns these situations into opportunities for therapy in home.

Melanie has global developmental delays and hypotonia (low muscle tone) which presents itself in her gait. Like so many of our families, her care is in the fore-front of everything they do. This February, her father returned from his 4th tour, a very exciting moment for Melanie and her family. When her parents discovered her delays they knew that therapy was the way to narrow the deficit. With this need for continued access to medical care, specialists and therapy, her father re-enlisted into the army to ensure Melanie got the care she needed.

IMG_0804Darling Melanie receives physical therapy and speech therapy at UCP-OC working on progression of age-appropriate language and motor skills. Pati , SLPA, works on language skills.  She has done an astounding job facilitating 3-5 word sentences, descriptive words, transitioning from one activity to another and preparation to sit and attend in school. Beth, MPT, UCP-OC physical therapist, has been working on incorporating playtime into Melanie’s physical therapy sessions.  This is due to the extensive stretching that Melanie requires in order to improve her posture and alignment.  UCP-OC physical therapist Beth works on strengthening, stretching, balance, gait, body awareness and safety.

Melanie’s mother says that therapy is a family activity at home. Her brother John and sister Abigail push and encourage Melanie to meet them in the activities that they are doing. Melanie’s strong sense of purpose, spunk and determination help her get there!

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

Written by: Elizabeth Wylie

Child of the Month: February 2013

Ordinarily when writing the child of the month feature I meet with the family to hear their story and then I write our post. This month’s child story came directly to my inbox thanks to Ms. Pati! Kai’s father was kind enough to send me Kai’s story. Sweet Kai’s story was too touching to re-write in my own words or even shorten; he truly has a story to be told.

 

February 2013: Kai

“Kai was found in a cardboard box near a water tower near Jincheng City, in central China. He was raised in an orphanage with over 300 children.”

UCP-OC Child of the Month_Kai“On February 20, 2012, Kai Min was united with my wife and I. He was 2 years 10 months old. It took my wife Lisa and I two years through the International Adoption process to get to this point. We had limited information on his health history except that he was born with rectal malformation and was abandoned by his parents at one day of age.

Our story unfolds from here. Lisa and I were given basic information on his psychosocial and motor development. Kai was described as “shy and kind.” He was described to be able to speak 5 words, sit alone but unable to walk. We were told he was potty trained and no longer had any bowel issues because of a surgical repair. It was recorded that he weighed 19 lbs. and we received 4 photos of him in the orphanage. Retrospectively, he looked very sad, and small compared to his fellow orphans.

Upon our “Gottcha Day”, the day orphans are united with their forever family, we saw a pale small fragile little boy that was expressionless. He showed no attachment to the caregivers that brought him to the Civil Affairs Office where we were united. Kai now entered into a new world.

UCP-OC Child of the Month_Kai
Kai’s Physical Therapist Cori uses an inverted half foam roll while he plays, reaches for toys and squatting to pick up fallen ones, in attempt to activate the muscles required for balance.  

On quick inspection, Kai appeared well cared for. It was not until we spent the next several hours to days that we realized his deficits. The back of Kai’s head was flat from spending all his time on his back in a “crib.” He could not roll, or lift his head off the carpet while lying on his stomach. Kai did not crawl or scoot, he could sit up if propped up. The smallest imbalance made him fall flat on his face. In fact, he had a permanent bump on his forehead from seemly repeated falls. Kai was 100% immobile at the ripe age of almost 3 years. When spoke to in Chinese, Kai had no response. We quickly discovered he had never learned the language. Surprisingly to us, Kai knew too well his toes and would play for hours with them by himself in the hotel room. Kai was a victim of his own body. We can only believe that he was left in social isolation in a small cradle that did not even allow him to move. Nonetheless, we were terrified, mad, and lived in disbelief.

Upon Kai’s arrival to the USA, I made multiple doctors’ appointments to have him formally tested for any congenital syndromes that might have been missed or misdiagnosed. After being evaluated by 7 specialists, and denied services by the school district, it appeared that Kai’s developmental delay was due to environmental issues. My wife and I were familiar with Help Me Grow, as our daughter was born premature. Out of the persistence to get Kai help, Help Me Grow directed us to United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. UCP-OC welcomed Kai with open arms. They were the first organization that navigated the care and therapy that was needed for Kai.

 Today, Kai participates in 3 group sessions, and two individual therapies per week. Kai is blossoming into a boy that walks, runs, plays and climbs at every opportunity. He is beginning to put two words together. All these milestones in just 5 months of treatment! Kai is a new boy and no longer a victim of his own body. He has a long way to come, but nevertheless, he has been given the gift of a “Good Life” –a song my wife and I dedicated to him before meeting him.

Thank you UCP-OC for all your love and support of Kai.”

Sincerely

Dr. Joe & Lisa

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

IMG_0767

Child of the Month: December 2012

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.