Olivia is three years old with honey blonde curls and a big personality and, like most children her age, she is ready to move! She loves dancing, playing with her three siblings, and now, thanks to steady progress in physical and occupational therapies, she also loves riding an adaptive tricycle all by herself.
But that wasn’t always the case. When she came to The Children's TherAplay Foundation in 2012, Olivia’s initial evaluation showed she was approximately 12 months delayed in development with low tone; muscle weakness; and challenges with motor planning, sensory integration, and delayed fine and gross motor skills. In addition, Olivia showed very little expression and her vocabulary was limited to two spoken words and a handful of signs.
All that changed when she came to Children's TherAplay.
“Treatment at Children's TherAplay helps with everything”
Olivia was referred to Children's TherAplay for treatment by her First Steps occupational therapist when she was 18 months old. Mom Jana explains, “Her OT thought she could really benefit from TherAplay’s services.”
She couldn’t have been more correct. When asked what changed once Olivia started physical and occupational therapies at Children’s TherAplay, her parents were quick to respond: “Everything!” After fourteen months of treatment Olivia is stronger, walks more steadily, and, recently, she’s even started to run. Olivia’s physical therapist Jen Grillo (pictured giving Olivia an assist) agrees, “Olivia has made amazing progress.”
What surprised Jana and Rob the most though were the gains they never even thought to hope for. Olivia is becoming more engaged in her world. Jana relates, “She’s exploring more, trying more things. She’s more confident.” But there’s more.
“The biggest change was speech,” Jana says. “Before Children's TherAplay she only spoke two words.” After she began treatment at Children's TherAplay, “It seemed like every week Olivia was doubling her vocabulary. There’s something about the stimulation she receives when she rides the horse. Now’s she’s a little chatterbox!”
And where, prior to her time at Children's TherAplay, Olivia showed very little personality – “stoic” is how her parents used to describe her – Olivia’s family has been overjoyed to see a definite personality emerge.
Her mother explains, “I can’t tell people enough – it [therapy at Children's TherAplay] helps with everything. It helps with the nonphysical stuff too. What we’ve gotten in return is personality and speech and confidence. It’s like we were finally able to see all of Olivia. It’s like she’s woken up.”
“I get to Yee-ha today?”
Best of all, Olivia loves the physical and occupational therapy treatments that are making such a difference in her life. She looks forward to her trips to “Yee-ha,” her way of describing Children's TherAplay, with great eagerness. According to Jana, “Olivia will ask, “I get to Yee-ha today?’ It’s the highlight of her day. She gets really excited.”
Jana and Rob are just as excited as Olivia about Children's TherAplay. When asked what she might share with other families who are considering bringing their children to Children's TherAplay, she enthuses, “I would tell them it is amazing the difference Children's TherAplay will make in your child. I’m so amazed. .. It’s phenomenal – it’s supportive and encouraging. There aren’t enough words. Children's TherAplay is just amazing for these kids.”