a week of celebrations

This week as been a week of celebrations at United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County! We surprised and celebrated two incredible and impactful women at our organization.

Ana Reyes: Early Intervention Specialist and fearless leader of the “Let’s Grow” class at the Life Without Limits Therapy Center at UCP-OC. Ana has been with UCP-OC for 25 years! This job is far greater than just a job for all of us, but Ana has made it her life. Her dedication and loyalty to our families is unrivaled and we are very grateful for her committment to UCP-OC. After doing the calculation we discovered she has touched over 2,500 families and allowed these children live a Life Without Limits!

Thank you Ana for all you give to UCP-OC, we are so glad you are doing what you love, and that it doesn’t seem like 25 years at all!

Next we celebrated Kathleen McFarlin for her 20 years of service to UCP-OC families through her role of overseeing Respite, Childcare Inclusion, Recreation Classes, Parenting Classes, Support Groups, and the infamous Parent E-mail Network…just to name a few. There is no way to fathom the many children & families that Kathleen has impacted, informed and changed their lives. Kathleen is constantly encouraging and her laughter is heard throughout the office.

Thank you Kathleen for your dedication and for being such an important part of our daily life at UCP-OC.

Kathleen’s team wrote a heartwarming poem for her.
Kathleen McFarlin and her unstoppable programs team.

Success Story | Helping the Behaviorally Challenging Child


We recently received a few success stories from one of our Parenting Classes, Helping the Behaviorally Challenging Child. This is a story of encouragement and we hope it will ecourage you!

I recently attended Debra Ann’s refresher class after originally attending the Helping the Behaviorally Challenging Child Class Series 2 1/2 years ago.Our son Mark who is now 16 years old and has an autism diagnosis has come a long way over the past three years.   We were very challenged, to say the least, during Mark’s middle school years with explosive outbursts both at home and school.  At school, his academic demands were much too great, he was depressed by the lack of social opportunities, and he was unable to understand or articulate his many daily frustrations.  This was a very stressful time for our entire family living with an intellectually challenged, inflexible teen with very low frustration tolerance. We were desperate parents who needed help.  We tried every medication prescribed on the market for aggressive behavior. At home, we followed a tight schedule using the conventional behavior management approach of positive reinforcement using reward systems and extinction and redirection for negative behavior, mostly met with little success.    Ultimately, the greatest gains we have made come fromunderstandingwhy he is upset, showing empathy, and using the Plan B Parenting Method from “Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem-Solving Approach” by Ross W. Greene and J. Stuart Ablon introduced to us from the Helping the Behaviorally Challenging Child class series taught by Debra Ann Afarian.

Mark is now a junior in high school, and he is excelling at school. He is appropriately placed in his special ed classes with fewer academic demands being placed on him.  He loves the social interaction he has with his typical peers in his mainstream electives.  And his happiness at school carries over at home.  Although we still face some negative behaviors that come with the territory, we have learned how to be more empathetic to Mark’s deficit skills, in particular, his low frustration tolerance.  Mark is a huge Anaheim Angels fan, and the majority of Mark’s frustrations now stem from his disappointment over the Angels’ losses.  In the conventional behavior management approach, we were taught to ignore Mark’s negative behavior, and ultimately deny Mark the ability to watch the games if his behavior escalated.  But since the viewing of the games is his passion, we have learned how to implement the Plan B Parenting Method so he can watch the games.  While some losses hurt more than others, we greatly appreciate the more peaceful home we now live in.


Mark was recently voted as Homecoming Prince as his High School. This class has assisted in his assilmilation into high school and has allowed the fostering of friendships! His homecoming story is featured in the OC Register, you can read it by clicking here: http://www.ocregister.com/articles/mark-322801-kylie-homecoming.html

For more information regarding Helping the Behaviorally Challenging Child Class please go to our website or contact Debra Ann Afarian at dafarian@ucp-oc.org.

Kristy’s Video Debut

Recently we shared a video on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/UCPofOC)  that features on of our talented therapists in her dancing debut! Kristy wanted to make sure that NO ONE missed our fundraising sign in our lobby.

We had so many parents tell us how much they enjoyed the video and got a good laugh from it, that we felt in needed to be shared here!

More UCP-OC Info:

We have 9 days left to reach our fundraising goal!  To help us reach our goal the OM Foundation has stepped forward with a challenge to match every gift dollar for dollar, until June 30th We know that with you and the OM Foundation we can reach our goal!

You give. They thrive. Together, we can make a Life Without Limits!


The Jogger

 A few weeks ago, one of our staff members received this heart-warming letter from a family that benefited from our Swap Meet network. A mother was in search for an adult jogger for her daughter with CP, and through our Swap Meet network, a staff member was able to find exactly what she needed. Swap Meet is a resource for our families with used equipment to donate or sell with other families who are looking for discounted equipment for children with special needs.  

For more information on Swap Meet please follow this link:    http://www.ucp-oc.org/UCP/Swap_Meet.php      

Dear Janet,

I guess it all started quite a few months ago when I started looking for an adult size jogger. My middle daughter, Melissa, has CP and uses a wheelchair full-time.  Her older sister, Carrie was diagnosed October 2010 with a very rare and dangerous bone marrow disease called Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis or HLH.  She has been very sick for so long and our family has almost lost her many times.  Carrie used to be a “runner” before she became ill and so to try to support her and bring awareness to her disease many of her friends all over the country have run races in her honor.  She lives in Florida with her husband who is in the Air Force and their three young children.  Currently she needs a bone marrow transplant but they can’t find a match so she is scheduled to go to Texas in February to have a cord blood transplant to try to buy her time until a match hopefully is found. She will be in the hospital from 3 to 6 months away from her family.  Because of all of this, my son David has been training to run a race down in San Diego where he is finishing medical school.  He wanted to be able to include his sister Melissa, but wasn’t sure how to accomplish this.  First he thought he could just push Melissa in her wheelchair as he ran, but we all realized that was very unsteady and dangerous.  Then I remembered that UCP-OC had a “swap meet” site so I decided to try to find an adult size jogger that he could use.  I called and left my request quite a long time ago and honestly had given up on the idea. Realizing how expensive a new one would be I was trying to come up with an alternative.  

Last week I received the nicest call from Janet Winter asking if I was still looking for the jogger.  She had someone who was ready to donate one. I was so excited and Janet set the steps in motion for me to be contacted by the donator.  This lovely lady named Anne called me the next day and we set up the time and location for her to give me the jogger.  We met in her work parking lot and she delivered it to me.  She also met Melissa and we all talked for a long time.  I don’t think she realizes what it means to our family, we feel very helpless sometimes trying to help our sick daughter.  Because of her generosity my son David will be able to push Melissa in many races to raise awareness for HLH and to honor their beloved sister.

I can’t thank Anne and her family enough and also UCP-OC for making it all possible.  Our family looks forward to watching David push Melissa in many races in the future thanks to all of your help.



Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Summer has officially arrived and things are changing here at UCP-OC! We have two new employees (one being me) and a desire to really get to know you! (our lovely families at UCP-OC)

So as we get to know you, its only fair you learn a little more about me! I wrote a little blurb a few months ago, but my name is Elizabeth and I was the intern here but now I am a full-time employee! I  graduated from Azusa Pacific University and I’m eager to learn about all of you. I love making pizzas from scratch (prosciutto and arugula is my personal favorite), I am a huge cupcake fan and love the fireworks at Disneyland! I am from good ol’ Huntington Beach, but big surprise I have an irrational fear of waves and therefore don’t surf. Last but not least, I LOVE taking pictures on my iPhone and sharing them. Here are just a couple pictures of the things I love (taken on my iPhone of course) :]


My hope is to give you information about things going on inside as well as outside UCP-OC, let you learn a little bit more about the families that come here through focusing on one child a month, as well as just creating conversations. I love the word community; a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. I think we have the potential to create a great community through our passion for children with special needs. I really want this blog to be a place where information is given, but also where questions are answered!!

Here is how we create community!

  • Talk to us on Facebook! Give us ideas of what you want to hear from us, what you love at UCP-OC, something funny your child did that day or how we can serve you better! A good story makes my day so I would love to hear some!
  • Email me at ewylie@ucp-oc.org if you would like your child to be our child of the month! It could be a great way to give you family and friends the opportunity to learn what is going on in your child’s life.
  • Send us pictures of your child in action that we can share with everyone else!
  • Comment on a blog post! Maybe you have a personal experience or have tried something we are writing about. Let us know what you think!

Life is meant to be shared and that’s what I want to do! So nice to meet you and I can’t wait to hear from you! I think Mr. Rogers says it perfectly, “Won’t  you be my neighbor?”