Every time we improve the life of one of our kids and help their family achieve their goals, we consider it a success. And the best way to learn about our successes is to meet some of our kids and to discover the miracles, both large and small, we're a part of every day.
“Mama I can jump!” Catalina squealed. It was a big day. Three-and-a-half-year-old Catalina thought she had been jumping before but as her mother Beatriz reports, while Catalina’s upper body bobbed and swayed, her feet had never left the ground.
Born with Down Syndrome, Catalina was receiving physical therapy and occupational therapy through First Steps for overall gross motor delay when a friend of the family told Beatriz about TherAplay. As someone who feels nervous around animals herself, Beatriz would never have guessed that within a short time of beginning treatment at TherAplay Catalina would be talking about TherAplay and Zippy, the pony she rides most often during treatment sessions, nonstop. “It’s been amazing. She’s developed this love for these animals. She wants to go ride a horse.” And jump, all over the clinic and all over her home.
My son Declan has a terminal disease, MPS ("Hunter Syndrome") and has countless hours of therapy every week in order to retain the skills he has now. The expected life span for children with an MPS disease with cognitive impairment is around 15 years. For now, he is a very happy, strong, exuberant four-year-old with the cognitive level of a two-year-old. His weekly therapies include speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, aqua therapy, and a four-hour intravenous infusion every Wednesday at Riley Hospital.
I suppose a story like Mia's deserves to be told, but finding the right place to begin is difficult. My pregnancy with her was a whirlwind of ultrasounds, specialists, and panic. At 20 weeks, I was diagnosed with a chorioangionoma, a rare tumor that had attached to my placenta. Further testing revealed that our baby was missing part of her brain near her cerebellum. The prognosis we were given was grim: she would never walk, probably never talk and would most likely be severely mentally retarded. We were encouraged to abort our precious baby, something we would never consider. We continued the pregnancy with weekly appointments, but were warned that our child was at high-risk for fetal heart failure. At 28 weeks, my water broke and Mia entered this world a deep shade of blue and completely sepsis. She was transported immediately to a NICU where she spent more than three months healing, recovering and growing. We were able to bring her home right before Christmas that year, but our journey was only beginning...
Emma has always been afraid of animals. Household pets like dogs and cats cause her to stiffen up, quiver and scream. When her Nana's very sweet and slow-moving bulldog, Ali, comes anywhere near Emma, she will yell, "Get her away from me! I'm gonna freak out!" She also doesn't like stuffed animals that make noise or move. She does like the zoo but knows the animals are behind fences or in cages.
Imagine my surprise when she told me at age three that she wanted to ride the pony at the farmer's market! She did it, loved it, and I had to take her back the following weekend so Daddy could see it with his own eyes! Continue Emma's story.
Read more incredible stories about our kids, their families, and their experiences at Children's TherAplay Foundation.
"The progress Cole has made is beyond anything we could have imagined. It is heartwarming to know your child is loved by everyone here."
"We feel very blessed to have become a part of the TherAplay family of therapists, staff and other families."
Suzanne, TherAplay parent
"Brendan squeals and claps when we pull into the entrance at TherAplay. He's made so many gains since he started. The horse is amazing."
"... thank you for this 'magical place'. Landon has made such strides. He has truly improved far more at TherAplay than in any other physical therapy program."
Doug and Brenda, TherAplay parents
"Jacob attends TherAplay for his sensory integration issues, speech, cognitive delay and low muscle tone. Since his hippotherapy started, we have noticed changes in his strength, fine motor skills, attention span, eye contact and speech. Jacob is so happy when he is at TherAplay."
Ellen and Jason, TherAplay parents
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