“Not yet,” came a voice from the side of the truck.
Then a moment later: “OK, now you can look.”
Amy and Michelina, a soon-to-be-10-year-old from Lancaster, walked slowly around the front of the truck. That’s when she saw the surprise.
Two small ponies, gentle brown and white ones named Finn and Valor.
She covered her mouth, but a quiet squeal of delight managed to escape. Michelina loves horses. She loves all animals, really. She has received occupational therapy at Schreiber for about two years, and Cami, a KPETS therapy dog, has been her constant companion.
KPETS volunteer Rhonda Taylor, who handles Cami, knew about Michelina’s love of horses and suggested to Amy the birthday surprise (her birthday is Sept. 30). Rhonda contacted Julie Good, who runs a Lancaster County horse farm and provides horses to KPETS for equine therapy. Julie said she could bring the ponies.
“(Schreiber) has a wonderful staff; you all are so good at what you do,” Mary said. “And working with KPETS has really helped open up Michelina.”
Mary said her granddaughter is on the autism spectrum and has post-traumatic stress disorder. Her parents were on drugs, Mary said, and Michelina was born addicted to drugs. Mary and took custody when her granddaughter was 3 months old.
Amy has been Michelina’s only therapist in her time at Schreiber.
“She’s made a lot of progress,” Amy said. “We’ve really been working on her with self care. Things like hair brushing and brushing her teeth and getting herself dressed. And we work on social skills, so we talk to people in the waiting room.”
“When she’s getting stressed, Cami will lay her head on her lap,” Amy said. “As long as (Michelina) can get through her social interactions, she should be able to do pretty well with her life.”
Just at that moment, Michelina finished putting a braid in Valor’s mane and gave him a goodbye hug. That connection might just be the way Michelina learns to live to her fullest potential, which is always the goal here at Schreiber.
“She relaxed when she’s around animals,” Amy said. “Maybe that’s what her future will hold.”