2015 Ambassadors: Sienna Matthews and Anthony MelendezFebruary 6, 2015
School: Circle of Friends Academy Daycare
Parents: Ashley Shank and Cord Matthews, Lititz
Favorite foods: spaghetti and pizza
Favorite activities: therapeutic riding, dancing and playing with Play-Doh
SiSi has been coming to Schreiber since she was 18 months old. Her mom Ashley says SiSi was diagnosed with symptoms related to cerebellar ataxia syndrome. People with this diagnosis might show several of a broad array of symptoms, all of which are tied to abnormalities in the cerebellum, an area of the brain generally associated with motor skills. SiSi came to Schreiber to improve her balance and coordination, her leg and core strength, the clarity of her speech and her hand-eye coordination.
To work on all that, SiSi receives physical, occupational and speech therapy. Ashley says SiSi couldn’t walk when she started at Schreiber.
“Now, she can run, something we’d never thought would do,” she says.
In addition to therapy, SiSi attends the Circle of Friends Academy early learning center, attended by kids with challenges and their typically developing peers.
Through it all, SiSi keeps improving.
“I am so thankful for the Schreiber Pediatric community, and so is (SiSi),” Ashley says. “She loves going to Schreiber every day. I know the best choice I ever made for my child was sending her to Schreiber.”
Anthony I. Melendez
School: Preschool at Schreiber Pediatric
Parents: Jennifer L. Melendez, Lancaster, and Peter I. Melendez (deceased)
Favorite activities: He loves to color, practice writing his letter — anything that has to do with colors, shapes and letters.
What he watches: “Kipper the Dog,” “Pocoyo,” “Finding Nemo.”
Anthony Melendez has had a pretty tough time in his 4-1/2 years. He was born with several serious medical issues. He is still battling a hearing loss in one ear, a feeding disorder, low muscle tone and chronic lung disease. And he has speech and language delays.
On top of that, the family lost Anthony’s dad Peter following a terminal illness when Anthony was 3.
Anthony doesn’t let any of that stop him from being at therapy twice a week. He works on sounding out words. He works on strengthening his core and learning to hold a pencil correctly or use scissors.
And he has a ways to go to overcome his food aversion; he still has a gastronomy tube to make sure he’s getting the nutrients he needs.
“Anthony has come so far and continues to amaze me,” his mom Jennifer says. “His vocabulary is so much better. He has much more confidence in himself. He is running around with his friends and jumping on the bed like a typical 4-year-old.”
He certainly ran around like a typical 4-year-old during the photo shoot here, and he was a little wiggly for the photographer. It didn’t faze Jennifer, who has certainly had far worse to handle during the past few years.
“I have no doubt that he can accomplish anything and everything he wants,” she says.