Schreiber Pediatric Center - At Schreiber, we walk next to kids and families

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February 16, 2017

At Schreiber, we walk next to kids and families

Posted by Dan  Permalink 

With Liz Datorre pushing gently on his back or holding the handle bars of his bike, 4-year-old Juelz Santos slowly pedaled around Schreiber Pediatric's therapy bike path. Without her help, Juelz doesn't have the leg strength to pedal on his own, Liz said.

Schreiber Physical Therapist Liz Datorre guides Juelz Santos around the bike path during a physical therapy session. Juelz, who is 4, has made significant progress in the few months he's been at Schreiber improving his balance and motor skills and reducing his anxiety.

She's his physical therapist at Schreiber.

Juelz started receiving services at Schreiber in late 2016. He has what is described as high-functioning autism, and he also receives speech therapy and occupational therapy, in addition to PT. Juelz' major challenges include poor muscle tone, balance and coordination. He also struggles with postural and gravitational insecurities. That means Juelz is anxious about a lot of ordinary movements, particularly movements that require balance, and he is afraid to have his feet off the ground.

Liz said her work with Juelz involves improving his strength and getting him more comfortable with moving his body. The two of them use the on-site playground and equipment in our therapy gym to help Juelz become more confident with motor planning and to apply those skills outside of Schreiber.

To get over his fear of being off the ground, Juelz practices jumping. He has gone from essentially not jumping at all to being able to jump off short steps without hesitation. To work on coordination, Juelz has learned to make the transition from walking up stairs using a two-step pattern (placing both feet on the same step before climbing to the next step) to a reciprocal stepping pattern.

"He's made tremendous progress with his balance, stability and confidence," Liz said.

At home, Juelz struggles to hold conversations, has a difficult time eating and has a number of sensory issues, including a sensitivity to certain textures. Michelle Santos, Juelz's mother, said Schreiber and its therapists have had a large impact, making their lives at home easier.

In addition to cognitive and physical disabilities, Juelz suffers from anxiety, which is yet another hurdle that Santos family has to face. By helping Juelz gain trust in his own body, Michelle has seen noticeable improvements in Juelz' physical abilities. He is less sensitive to different textures and has improved his speech in their short amount of time at Schreiber, Michelle said. All of it means he is less anxious now, his mom said.

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