This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. And Schreiber’s Occupational Therapy Department is using the occasion to add some moon fun to therapy sessions.
Eli Cole climbed to the top of a lunar hill (actually a huge pillow) and jumped into a small lunar lake (actually a big ball pit).
Wyatt Dennison turned a piece of paper into a rocket, slipped it over a plastic straw then had it blast off with a puff of air from his mouth.
Schreiber OT Bernie Hershey was the mission control commander who made all this lunar fun happen. Bernie likes to use current events to add a little spice to her therapy sessions.
Wyatt, 6, comes to Schreiber for OT and speech-language therapies. His mom Liz says Wyatt is on the autism spectrum, and he’s been coming to Schreiber for more than three years for help with his fine and gross motor skills and to work on sensory issues.
Wyatt Dennison and Schreiber OT Bernie Hershey launch their straw rockets at the same time to end Wyatt’s therapy session.
For the lunar crafts, Wyatt has to use fine motor skills to cut out the piece of paper that will become the body of the rocket, then cut out the fins. He then has to wrap the rocket around a pencil to form it, tape the fins to the body, then slip it off the pencil and onto the straw.
“The kids don’t really know much about the moon landing, so we’re incorporating our therapy goals into activities with a NASA or a moon-landing theme,” Bernie said. “NASA’s website had lots of ideas we were able to use.”
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory actually posted the instructions for the straw rocket on its website.
Eli works on his balance and core strength when he’s climbing the lunar hill. He also practiced his handwriting by pressing gently on “zero gravity” paper (paper on a soft surface that would allow for easy punctures).
Eli Cole jumps into a ‘lunar lake’ during a recent occupational therapy session. The exercise added an element of space fun to therapy.
Both boys also used a small hammer to smash “moon rocks” during therapy, another exercise that worked on hand-eye coordination, and walked in moon boots, that helps them practice balance and coordination.
“With everything that our families have to deal with on a daily basis, adding variety with a special theme improves motivation on even the most difficult task, like the handwriting practice,” Bernie said.
There is a little bit of the Apollo spirit in all of this, the creativity and the experimenting and the striving to be a little bit better.
And that’s a good thing. For Schreiber and for the kids.
John Hatch was a familiar face here at Schreiber in the past few years. H was a neighbor, whose Homestead Village villa was close enough to our campus that he could hear of the squeals of the kids playing on the playground.
When Schreiber and Homestead talked about starting a new intergenerational program to bring residents into the center to volunteer, John took the lead on Homestead’s end.
When the women who organize the annual Homestead Village Mother’s Day Jewelry Sale wanted a man to join their effort, John raised his hand.
When a group from Homestead attended our annual gala two years ago, John reserved the table.
In every case, he was a gracious, gentlemanly presence.
We hadn’t seen him much recently, though. We heard a little more than a year ago that he had received a difficult medical diagnosis.
Last week, we learned he had passed. His loving wife Louise stopped in to tell us and to share a few memories as she looked through some of our archives to check details about his connection to Schreiber.
As Louise already knew, it was a long, faithful connection.
John came to Lancaster in 1976. He moved here as the director of purchasing for Howmet Aluminum, later Alcoa and now Arconic Mill Products, according to his obituary.
By 1979, he had joined the board of directors for what was then the Lancaster County chapter of Easter Seals. By the early ’80s, he was leading the fundraising for the organization and was a key player in launching Buck-A-Cup and the Rubber Duckie Race as major community fundraisers. In 1985, he was named president of the board of directors.
After his time on the board ended, and after Schreiber became an independent nonprofit, John continued to stay involved with the center for another 30 years.
It would be difficult to find a more dedicated servant for Schreiber. We will miss him.
Rest well, John.
Another Arconic connection. Back in September, four Penn State Harrisburg engineering students approached us looking for a senior capstone project. Two of the students had been interns at Arconic in the summer of 2018 when they joined a group of Arconic employees who visited Schreiber on a volunteer day.
After talking with Schreiber Occupational Therapist Bernie Hershey, the students decided to modify a therapy bike and fit it with variable resistance.
The students brought their first version of the bike to Schreiber in February. After taking time to refine their concept and make adjustments, they brought in the completed bike last week. Owen Hull, a Schreiber kiddo who took the first bike out for a spin, was here again to greet the students and test out the final product.
Thanks again to Nicole Linke, Cody Mackanick, Michael Ruch and Andrew Saienni for their creative work on behalf of Schreiber. Nicole and Michael graduated and had jobs waiting for them.
We’d like to think that John Hatch would be pleased.
When Denisha Kline had the chance to work with kids at orphanages in Vietnam, it didn’t take her long to say yes. Denisha is a physical therapist at Schreiber and a board member at Brittany’s Hope, a nonprofit based in Elizabethtown that provides support for children in orphanages in Vietnam and Africa. Brittany’s Hope is coordinating the trip.
She had been on a similar trip to Africa a few years ago and was eager to do another one.
She’s leaving May 19 and will be gone for 17 days. They will visit several different orphanages, working with staff and teachers on best practices for caring for children, including those with special needs.
She will be joined by two occupational therapy professors and a handful of social work and occupational therapy students, all from Elizabethtown College.
“We’ll have a chance to train staff and problem solve and do therapy with kids,” Denisha said. “Most orphanages lack to the staff to provide (an adequate) level of care, and they don’t have the equipment or the building space. We’ll do what we can to help them.”
Another thing Denisha is hoping to do is to take along some supplies to leave with the orphanages, the kids and their families. She’s asking for donated items, particularly adaptive feeding tools like spoons, bowls and cups.
“If we have Schreiber parents whose kids are older and don’t need some of these smaller items, this is a real opportunity to pass them on to families that have a need,” Denisha said. “It might help a child over there learn a skill that will help them be more independent.”
MAKE A DONATION
Do you have adaptive feeding tools that you aren’t using anymore?
Bring them to Schreiber between now and April 26. Denisha Kline would like to deliver the items to the orphanages and families in Vietnam she visits during her trip with Brittany’s Hope.
Contact Denisha at 717-393-0425 ext. 153 or by email at email@example.com to learn more or make arrangements to donate.
We have a lot of therapy bikes at Schreiber. But there was a certain kind of bike we were missing: a hand bike, no pedaling, for school-age kids. Enter a group of senior mechanical engineering students from Penn State Harrisburg.
Bernie Hershey, a Schreiber occupational therapist, was the one who suggested the project to the group in September.
The students, all seniors — Nicole Linke, 21; Cody Mackanick, 23; Michael Ruch, 23; and Andrew Saienni, 23 — came to visit Schreiber after Nicole and Michael had interned over the summer with Arconic, a Lancaster County manufacturer. Arconic has supported Schreiber for several years by donating and sending volunteers. Nicole and Michael joined a group of Arconic employees for a service day at Schreiber that included a tour by Susan Fisher, Schreiber’s volunteer coordinator.
“We have one hand bike, and it’s too small for some of the kids that need it,” Bernie said. “Susan brought them to me, and they said they were looking for a capstone project for their senior year.”
The tour sparked their engineer brains immediately.
“When I saw this old therapy bike they had, I was intrigued,” Nicole said. “I thought that looked like something we could work on.”
The idea they developed with Bernie was to build a bike for kids ages 6-12 that would require the kids to pedal using only their hands. (Watch Zoey Zweizig do a demonstration ride in the video below.)
“We’re always looking for ways to have upper body resistance,” Bernie said. “One of the best ways to build upper body strength is to have them propel themselves through space.”
That movement triggers the release of endorphins in the brain that are pleasing and calming at the same time. Bernie saw that immediately when Owen Hull climbed on the bike. Owen is 5, and he receives occupational, physical and speech-language therapy at Schreiber. He’s on the autism spectrum, said his mom Monica Hull.
“If you noticed, the more he rode the more he talked to the college students,” Bernie said. “He engaged with those kids, which he normally doesn’t do. He was mechanically inspecting the bike and asking questions about it. Oh, I got such a charge out of it.”
The students have enjoyed the work, too. They started in September and the bike they brought this week was a first prototype. They will take it back and make adjustments based on the feedback from Bernie, and from the kids. They asked the kids what colors the bike should be, for example. The project should be finished in April and will be exhibited during Penn State Harrisburg’s annual show of capstone engineering projects in May.
None of the students knew anything about Schreiber a year ago. All are from outside of Lancaster County. But they connected right away with Schreiber’s mission and wanted to do something to help.
“I just liked spending a year working on something that will help someone instead of making something for a company that might not even use it,” Nicole said.
“Knowing that it would be used every day is really important,” Cody Mackanick added.
The students raised the money for the bike themselves, about $1,500 in all, through a GoFundMe page. They spent a portion of that for the materials to build the bike.
And the rest? That money they will donate that to Schreiber.
Some of you probably already know that what we call Schreiber today has been around since 1936. In those 82 years, we have gone by several different names: The Society for Crippled Children and Adults, the National Easter Seals Society and, starting in 1994, Schreiber Pediatric Rehab Center of Lancaster County.
Now, we are excited to tell you about our new name and introduce our new logo.
In the nearly 25 years since we adopted our most recent name, Schreiber has experienced many changes and a lot of growth. We see more children than ever. We see kids with a wider array of diagnoses. We did a major expansion in 2006, and we have added new services, including aquatic therapy, thanks to our new pool, and the Circle of Friends Academy daycare center, which now accepts children as young as 6 weeks.
The staff and the board leadership of the center began to think that our name didn’t reflect the breadth of services we provide. While we still see many kids that you might expect to see at Schreiber, kids born with cerebral palsy or spina bifida, we also see lots of other kids whose challenges aren’t nearly as complex. They might have a minor speech delay or need a little help with their fine motor skills.
We also have a fair number of typically developing kids. They attend our S.T.A.R.S. Preschool or Circle of Friends. Or they come for swim lessons. Or they attend with their parents to learn baby signing or infant massage or kids’ yoga.
As our new mission statement reads: “We provide everything needed for all of life’s challenges, so that families and children can reach their dreams and vision. We see every child’s unique capabilities and help them achieve their fullest potential.”
The new mission statement guided the conversations about finding a new name. After numerous meetings during the strategic planning process of 2017, a stakeholder survey and a final review by the board, we will now be officially known as the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development.
We didn’t want our brand to send the message that we are fixing “broken” kids. We are helping any family seeking services so that their son or daughter can be their best selves.
And we felt it was important to emphasize our new name with a new logo, one that keeps the name Schreiber at the center of our identity.
So take in our new name: The Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development. Check out our new logo. And know that we will keep doing what we’ve tried to do for 82 years: Enriching lives. Giving hope. For all who need us, every day.
Support Schreiber for the Extra Give
We have a new name and a new logo, but we still rely on the generosity of the community to operate.
Please consider a gift to Schreiber during the Extraordinary Give on Nov. 16. Go to www.extragive.org anytime on Nov. 16, find Schreiber’s listing and donate. It’s that easy. And every dollar supports the children of Schreiber.
At Schreiber, we love to partner with other community organizations where missions overlap. We have exciting news about two new collaborations to talk about.
The first is about art. Lancaster Artwalk presents its next Artwalk Weekend Oct. 5-7, and there are at least 36 different locations participating.
The vast majority are in downtown Lancaster’s many art galleries and shops, but Artwalk has moved into the suburbs this year by adding a stop at Homestead Village’s Bachman Center, right next to us here at Schreiber.
The Bachman Center will be open for Artsfest 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7.
The best news: We will submit some 90 pieces of art, all made by Schreiber kiddos, for display at Homestead throughout the weekend.
Art from our preschoolers and day care kids and by clients will be next to works by 11 Lancaster County artisans, including Barry Smith, Doug Good, Barbara Ulmer and Kitty Filling.
Jay Graver, Schreiber’s director of educational services, has been coordinating the gathering of art from Schreiber kids. There’s a chance you could see a piece by Malcolm Corley, a Schreiber kiddo and emerging young artist we wrote about recently.
The schedule at Homestead will also feature pottery and glass-blowing demonstrations (Saturday) and screen-printing by the Thaddeus Stevens STEM Truck (Sunday).
Donations made during the event will benefit the Homestead Village endowment fund. Schreiber is happy to support’s Homestead as they have supported us, through sending volunteers for our Intergenerational Program, their annual Mother’s Day Jewelry Sale and contributing to our special events, like our Gala and the Rubber Duckie Race.
The other collaboration taps more directly into our expertise in providing therapy services for children. In this case, these would be services for some of the most vulnerable children.
The Lancaster County Behavioral Health and Developmental Services is launching a pilot program to serve families that have babies born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. The program could be expanded later to serve families that have other conditions present at birth, including Down Syndrome.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS, happens when a baby is exposed to drugs in the womb and suffers withdrawl after birth. The condition can cause many serious problems, including low birthweight, breathing and feeding problems and seizures.
The county selected three Early Intervention special instructors to start the program, and one of them is Schreiber’s Catherine Donohue, an early intervention teacher who specailizes in working with kids ages birth to age 3 that have developmental delays.
“They were looking for people who wanted to do this, and I wanted to do this,” said Catherine, who has worked at Schreiber for 13 years. “I’ve always been interested in that hospital connection.”
That hospital connection will make this program different than the work she typically does. Most of the time, Catherine sees kids at home, at day care or here at the Center. For this new BHDS program, the babies will still be in the neonatal intensive care unit, and she will be working with families in their homes.
The teachers will show families “how can they prepare themselves and their home to bring a special needs child home,” Catherine said.
The program calls for teachers to work with biological families and foster families.
“That’s one of the things they were looking for in the teachers, and I’ve done that,” she said.
Starting services at Schreiber for two of her children did not create anxiety for Andrea Grasso. She had seen what Schreiber did for two of her sisters.
Andrea’s sister Ashley was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic condition that creates a host of physical and developmental challenges.
“We came to Schreiber almost every day of the week for her preschool and her therapy services,” Andrea said. “It was just something I grew up with. (Schreiber is) something that’s been part of my family since she was born.”
Then her parents adopted Ariel, a little girl who had Down Syndrome. And the visits to Schreiber continued.
Fast forward a few years. Andrea met and married Nick Grasso. Nick was an only child, but that didn’t make it harder to blend in with his new family. It might have made it easier.
“Both of my sisters just love Nick,” Andrea said. “They just gravitated toward him, and he would embrace them with open arms.”
When it was time for Andrea and Nick to start a family, they were both open to children with special needs. For Andrea, it was a natural continuation of the relationships she built with her sisters as a child. For Nick, he saw they had the experiences and the resources that few adopting parents could offer.
So they adopted Mia and Giuliana, and Giuliana has Do
wn Syndrome, just like Andrea’s sister Ariel. And they have two biological sons, Paxton and Jude.
Of the four, it was Paxton’s start in life that proved to be the scariest. They had taken him home from the hospital, but at 10 days something appeared to be wrong. He was crying and fussy and not wanting to eat. At the pediatrician’s office, the doctor saw Paxton have a seizure and sent them right to Lancaster General Hospital.
The medical team there came back with the kind of news that would be any new parent’s worst nightmare.
“The doctor came in and said, ‘He has a Level 3 brain hemorrhage. We need to get him to Hershey. LifeLine will be here in 7 minutes. And you need to get to Hershey as soon as you can.'”
Andrea remembers little of what happened on the trip to Penn State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
“I know it was a whirlwind of doctors. And I remember pleading, ‘Can I please go with him? Can I please go with him?’ And they said no. And from that point on it was just a blur. We got to Hershey, and he had already been there for 15 or 20 minutes. They had him settled in a room. And he had tubes, and he was just very sick. It was terrifying. As a new mom, you have two young children at home already, and then you have this new baby, and he’s sick and you don’t know why. And you don’t know what caused it. You don’t know what happened. It’s just absolutely terrifying.”
Paxton’s stay in the hospital lasted a month and a half. While he was there, doctors placed a shunt in his brain that connects to a small tube that runs down into his abdomen. The shunt keeps any fluid from building up in his brain again.
He’s a healthy, happy little guy now. But that early bit of brain trauma left him with some sensory issues, which, in turn, create some behavior issues. He attends Schreiber’s S.T.A.R.S. Preschool and has received occupational therapy for a little more than a year.
“He was a different kid when he (first) came in,” Andrea said. “He was shy and very cautious and anxious and nervous. The progress we’ve seen, even over the last six months, is incredible. He is now so much more calm and so much more relaxed. He’s learning how to regulate himself and how to regulate his emotions. He’s learning how to deal with different sensory issues. He’s learning those coping skills.”
The progress with Giuliana has been equally remarkable.
“When we first fostered her, she was a little less than a year old,” Andrea said. “At that point, she couldn’t hold her head up, she couldn’t roll over. She couldn’t do anything. She was already delayed because of the Down Syndrome, but she was also very much delayed because of neglect.”
And now, after five years of therapy first through Lancaster County Early Intervention and then at Schreiber, she can do so much more.
“She came (to Schreiber) being not being able to say two words together,” Andrea said. “Now, she’s able to say, ‘I want this,’ or ‘I need that.’ She can say sentences. That’s huge.”
Andrea knows more than most what a difference Schreiber can make in a child’s life. She saw it with her sisters. She’s seeing it now with her son and daughter. For many families, this is one of the few places, maybe even the last place, where they can have hope. Hope that a son will live a full life free of anxiety, or a daughter will learn to talk.
“Families with children with disabilities, they hang onto (Schreiber),” she said. “People from the outside need to see what happens here. They need to see how remarkable this place is and the incredible things that come out of here.”
Working the checkout line at Stauffers of Kissel Hill in Lititz, Jason Hines keeps up a steady stream of chatter with every customer who comes through his line.
For some, he takes the numbers from their bill and references a date in history (he’s a history buff).
“You learn a lot of history here,” one woman told him.
For others, he’ll share something about himself.
“This is the third anniversary of my becoming a standup comic,” he told another woman.
For every customer, he found some way to add a little extra bit of service.
“You saved 299 pennies today,” he said to one couple. “Have a great day.”
He’s 18 years old, a high school graduate working and taking classes at the Lancaster campus of Harrisburg Area Community College.
The Jason the folks at Stauffers know now is a long way from the Jason who came to Schreiber at age 3. Even before starting at Schreiber, Jason had been diagnosed with autism and was receiving Early Intervention services. Jason’s specific diagnosis, said his mom Jackie, was PDD-NOS: Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.
“I had some problems talking and had some motor delays,” Jason said.
Jackie is a special instructor at Schreiber. She knows her way around education and kids with autism and other learning disabilities. Even for her, choices could be hard. When Jason was 5 and it was time to decide whether or not to start school, Jackie was torn.
“I struggled whether to keep him in early intervention or have him start kindergarten,” she said. “Cognitively, he was ready. But his expressive language with that of a 2 year old. Ultimately we decided to send him to kindergarten, and we had plenty of support services in place.”
Initially at Schreiber, he received all threee services and special instruction from Jay Graver in the S.T.A.R.S. Preschool. Eventually, he concentrated on occupational therapy, attending Schreiber until he was 8 to work on his sensory integration, fine motor skills and attention and focus.
By middle school, he had made a lot of progress, but he still worried that he wasn’t always speaking correctly.
“Once ninth grade hit, kids stopped being jerks, and I started making more friends,” Jason said.
In high school, he flourished. He was involved in an anti-bullying program, he did plays, he sang in the choir. He joined the Unite Club, Warwick High School’s Mini-THON in support of the Four Diamonds Fund.
“I raised the most money, which made me King of Mini-THON,” Jason said.
All of his success helped him become senior class vice president and gain enough confidence to start trying to become a performer. He has dabbled in stand up comedy, telling jokes and doing impressions. He made news this month when Lancaster Online noticed that his witty patter with customers included an impression of Philadelphia Eagles play-by-play announcer Merrill Reese.
That’s how he is every day on the job at Stauffers, always a willing performer, especially for little kids. He will talk like Mickey Mouse or do voices from “Monsters Inc.” or “Frozen.” He will ask them about their favorite characters. Kids will ask moms to go to Jason’s line when they check out.
Toni Lutz, a shift supervisor for the cashiers at the Lititz store, said she knew Jason before he even started working at Stauffers. He and her daughter Madeline went to school together at Warwick.
“He’s naturally that way,” Toni said. “He’s nicer than most people. He’s just kind. It’s refreshing.”
“We Delight Shoppers” is a lyric in the Stauffers jingle, and Jason said he sang that at the end of his job interview back in 2015.
“It helped me get the job,” he said. “My charm wins people over.”
At HACC, he’s taking classes with an eye on becoming a teacher, probably an elementary school teacher. Which means he would be working with little ones on their writing and speaking and making sure they were paying attention.
And that feels just about right.
Ninette Jackson first sought out essential oils to help her dad, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease. A decade and lot of education later, she has become an essential oil guru. And she’s right here in Lancaster County.
Ninette’s a lawyer by trade. But she didn’t enjoy it much. Her interest in essential oils gradually seeped into her life. The more she saw their benefits, the more she wanted to learn.
She became a distributor but saw a lot of her customers struggle with the cost. The law practice soon ended, and in 2010 Josiah’s Oils was born.
“Once I had kids, I became more interested in getting these for lower prices,” Ninette said. “I found ways to source them directly from the farms that make them. So I started a company to bring the oils in, bottle them and sell them.”
Over the years, Ninette has put in about 860 hours of study to become a certified clinical aromatherapist. Her husband Marc is an aromatherapist, meaning he hasn’t studied as much, and he manages their store on Meadow Lane in Manheim Township.
The Jacksons have five children, ranging in age from 15 to 7. In the middle is Josiah, who will be 10 in April. Josiah has Down Syndrome and visits Schreiber Fridays for physical therapy in the pool and occupational therapy.
“We’ve really enjoyed (therapy),” Ninette said. “It’s a nice way for him to get the expertise of the therapists, and it’s a great way to learn how to carry over what he does in therapy at home.”‘
Bernie Hershey is a Schreiber occupational therapist who encourages parents to use essential oils when it’s appropriate.
“A little girl who comes for all the therapies and preschool has a diagnosis that includes difficulty paying attention to any task and anxiety,” Bernie said. “Her mother and father use essential oils in a special mixture just for her to improve her attention and allow her to attempt the skills we are working on (to improve her fine motor skills).”
Josiah has had several surgeries, and Ninette has used diffused oils to help with his post-surgery recovery.
“The doctors at (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) saw he needed less morphine,” she said. “Diffusing essential oils really reduces the body’s pain response.”
She doesn’t claim her products can replace traditional medicine, and she has worked in partnership with Josiah’s doctors.
“We believe in medicine; we believe in antibiotics,” she said. “I see this as a complement to what doctors are already doing. We’ll consult with pharmacists. We tell families to talk to their pediatrician. Maybe these oils can help you take one less pill to manage pain or anxiety.”
She said her customers are diverse. Many are elderly, looking to manage pain or improve sleep or help with a relative with dementia. More than 50 percent are moms looking for help for their kids, especially kids with special needs.
“We saw early on the benefits of oils, especially with Josiah,” Marc said. “We saw it making a difference in our lives.”
The Jacksons want to make a difference in the lives of Schreiber families. They will offer a free workshop here on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The event will run from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
She will talk about what not to do, how to use them safely on the skin and mention a few options for some of the common parental challenges.
“Which oils are good for what,” she said. “My child has trouble focusing: What shoud I use?”
Parents looking for help for their child with autism or ADHD or sensory issues might want to come and hear what Lancaster’s essential oils guru has to say.
It took three years from the time she was referred until Luis was finally able to start receiving services in 2013. That’s how long the wait times were for speech therapy.
With her second son, Kevin, doctors detected hydrocephalus during the pregnancy, and he was born in 2013 with his own set of complications.
At 14 months old, when it was time for him to begin services at Schreiber, Velveth said Kevin was able to start almost immediately.
“Very different,” Velveth said. “I’ve told friends to come here for services, and they got right in, too.”
Whether the wait has been long or short, Velveth said the benefits of coming to Schreiber have been the same: amazing.
With Luis, at the time of his diagnosis at age 3, he was nonverbal. By the time he started at Schreiber, when he was 6, he still wasn’t speaking.
“‘Mama,’ ‘Dada,’ that was it,” Velveth said.
“She started working with him,” she said. “After two or three months, we could see he was paying attention and starting to understand directions. … Then he started saying things. Probably when he was 7, he was speaking.”
Luis is in fifth grade now, doing well in a classroom for students with autism.
“He’s a good kid,” Velveth said. “He’s learning to express himself. He gets along with other kids. He has started to draw and have an imagination. Miss Barbara is the angel that opened the door.”
“Doctors said he’d never walk or eat by himself,” Velveth said. “When we started here, he couldn’t sit. He would just lay in bed.”
He began his physical therapy at 14 months with Lisa Stachler Volk, who showed Velveth how to help Kevin sit and how to massage his legs to help improve his muscle tone. At 18 months, Kevin started to roll over. Then he was fitted with braces and started learning to stand.
He’s 4 now, and he walked from his stroller back to a recent therapy session with no assistance, although he still wears a brace to support his weaker left side. He also receives occupational therapy to reduce his anxiety about walking on different surfaces. His brain had difficulty processing going from grass to the mulch of a playground, for example.
“He used to cry and cry and wouldn’t do it,” she said. “Now he can do it. All these little things he’s doing, like going down a slide, they’re normal for other kids. They’re so amazing for us.”
She has seen him progress in other ways, too. He used to be anxious about different food textures and would only take liquids; now he’s learning to chew. He’s much calmer and more confident. He sleeps better.
All of which is to say: Schreiber and the Marin family found each other at the right time.