Sam Leon-Durkee started a recent physical therapy session working on a piece of equipment called a Galieleo vibration plate. He sat down on a bench, put his feet on the plate and, with the help of his physical therapist, Rachel Saufley, worked on standing up.
Sam was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months. He’s 12 now, and does a lot of work to increase his flexibility and mobility. The vibration plate helps reduce the muscle spasticity, or tightness, associated with CP so he can have a more effective therapy session.
Schreiber acquired the vibration plate in December thanks to a grant from the Gamber Foundation. Rachel said she uses it with Sam to help stretch his hamstrings. Sam put it a little differently.
“It’s something new to torture the kids,” he said. “And by torture I mean help.”
He said it like he says a lot of things: with a mischievious smile.
His cerebral palsy makes it hard for him to walk or hold a pencil to write his name. But it has done nothing to hinder his social development.
He’s a talker, a natural storyteller with a vivid imagination and a quick sense of humor. His mom Casey Trone said Sam wants to work at Marvel Comics in New York City.
“I think he’s going to single-handedly write the next Marvel movie,” she said.
That’s the plan right now. For that to happen, there’s still a lot of work to do. Given how far he’s come, though, nobody would bet against it.
Sam was born prematurely in August 2009 and spent five months in the neonatal intensive care unit at Hershey Medical Center. Casey said she started Early Intervention services with Schreiber as soon as she received the diagnosis.
The EI services continued until he was 3. He had a muscle-lengthening surgery at age 4, which helped him make a lot of progress. A year or so later, he returned to Schreiber to resume physical therapy. Around the same time, he started school, first enrolling in Head Start when he was 4 and then starting kindergarten the next year.
“I was a little reluctant,” said Casey, who lives in the Penn Manor School District. “I would have liked to have a little more time for him to develop physically. But he did really well in kindergarten. He’s had an aide with him every year, so the support has been really good.”
He has continued to do well in school, including his middle school years at Manor Middle School.
“He has shocked me,” Casey said. “I remember when I first got the diagnosis of CP, I had no idea what was going to happen. There are so many different forms of the disease. I went so far as to have weight-loss surgery because I didn’t know whether I was going to be able to take care of him. But he’s doing very well.”
A lot of that she attributes to their experience at Schreiber.
“It’s helped me to understand what is possible and what to do and how to take the next step with him,” she said, her voice cracking and a tear rolling down her face. “My life now is to get him to be the best he can be.”
The physical challenges haven’t been the only ones for Casey, Sam and Sam’s twin sister Isabelle. The twins’ father, Henry Leon-Rivera, passed away in 2016. Two years later, Casey brought Mike Trone into their lives.
“They were just about to turn 8,” Mike said. “When we met the first time, we went out for ice cream. We talked a lot about the ‘Cars’ movies. He’s a smaller guy, and he was even smaller then. But he can talk. He knows what he’s talking about. And he has comedic timing. He’s full of life.”
Now it was Mike’s turn to wrestle with his emotions, and he reached over to grasp Casey’s hand.
“I’ve learned so much from him,” he said finally. “I didn’t know anything about CP when Casey and I met. I guess I had a picture in my mind. And he was nothing like that. Resilience is how he approaches day-to-day life. He’s definitely changed my outlook on the world.”
And now the three-person family is four: Casey and Mike married in 2021. She’s financial coordinator with the Library System of Lancaster County. He’s a Realtor with Keller Williams Keystone. Together, they are rebuilding life as a family. And coming to Schreiber to help Sam become his best self, to fulfill his plans of telling the next stories in the Marvel universe.
“I work really hard every day to give Sam the best life I can,” she said. “And I know he meets me halfway to give his best. We all do what we gotta do, and we’ll get there.”
For Carter Peiffer, an occupational therapy session with Sarah Terry will usually involve food. And making a mess with food.
The mess is by design. A puddle of PediaSure on the table is fair game for Carter to write his name in, drive a toy car through or give a sip to Elmo. He might pull a straw from a cup filled with the nutrition drink and sniff (good) or take a tiny taste (better) from the end of the straw.
It’s all about making food fun for Carter, giving him positive experiences. He and food have had a rough two years. Through a series of life events, Carter went from a happy, active 2 year-old who would eat lots of different foods to a 4 year-old who would only eat strawberry banana yogurt — and it had to be Gerber’s. The lack of variety and nutrition in his diet over time left him with a severe vitamin C deficiency and a case of what used to be called scurvy. That caused his bones and muscles to weaken, to the point where his bones became brittle and he couldn’t walk or even stand without help.
Let’s go back to the beginning. When he was 2, his mother Desiree said she noticed Carter was a little delayed in speech. But he was otherwise active and healthy. Then he gradually began to cut out some foods, starting when Carter’s brother was born. Around the same time, his grandmother was in the hospital for an extended period following heart surgery.
These new stresses in his life caused him to become even more picky with his eating, to the point where all he would eat was the yogurt.
In March a year ago, Carter was running around playing when he tripped and fell. He ended up breaking the growth plate in his left knee, which required a knee immobilizer. A month later, he fell again — still wearing the immobilizer on his right knee — and broke the growth plate in his other knee.
After another round of medical visits, doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in May found multiple tiny fractures in his bones and sent him to CHOP’s emergency department for an immediate, intensive examination.
Their conclusion: Carter’s increasingly limited diet for more than a year had caused a dangerous vitamin C deficiency that had weakened his bones and left him susceptible to fractures. His overall medical state was as fragile as his little brittle bones.
He spent nine days at CHOP in May receiving treatment and starting inpatient therapy. Later that month, after he was sent home, Desiree called Jen Bachman, our social services director, to arrange starting services at Schreiber.
In early June, Carter had his first physical therapy visit. After not being able to put any weight on his legs because of his knee injuries, step one in his recovery was relearning how to walk. He did aquatic therapy in our therapy pool with Megan Campbell Roland, and PT in the gym with Laurie Panther.
Desiree said Laurie noticed some sensory issues and suggested Carter be evaluated for occupational therapy. In September, doctors diagnosed him with autism and sensory processing disorder, and he started working with Sarah for OT. The work there has focused on helping him expand the variety of foods he ate.
“Carter, what did you eat today?”
Sarah asked the question at the start of a recent therapy session.
“Some peanut butter bread, and I ate some hot dog!”
“You did not,” Mom said. She smiled and gave him a what-are-you-talking-about look. “You had some yogurt.”
“Yogurt,” Carter repeated back, and then swirled some PediaSure around the table with his fingers.
Sarah had a dry erase board next to her with Carter’s eating goals for the session written in blue marker. When Carter accomplished one of his tasks for the session, Sarah had him fill in the box next to that task on the white board.
The work with Sarah on eating is paying off. Desiree said Carter weighed 29 pounds when he arrived at CHOP a year ago and 32 pounds when he left. Today, his weight consistently ranges between 42 and 45 pounds.
“Sarah got him to eat peanut butter and marshmallow (sandwiches),” she said. “He started eating chips. He tried an animal cracker and a pretzel. He seems to like the crunchy stuff.”
It’s a constant process, sometimes painfully slow, sometimes with setbacks.
“When he gets derailed, when he gets sick, he shuts down (and stops eating),” she said. “I’ve had to stay up all night with him to give him water, because getting dehydrated would mean we’d have to go to the ER.”
The progress is obvious, and not just with his eating.
“He’s able to walk and run and is almost back to where he was before all this started,” Desiree said. “He plays on the playground. He goes up and down steps. He’s able to express himself more now.”
Later, she talked with a lot of emotion about what she has seen bringing him to every appointment for the past nine months.
“To see his progress has been amazing. I know (coming to Schreiber) will all end at some point, but everybody has been so amazing. They are like family here, and Carter loves being here.”
After taking two tentative tastes of a strawberry nutrition drink, Carter finishes the session with a reward: a bite of his peanut butter sandwich.
Amanda Katchur is a psychologist who has been an advocate for services that support children for a number of years. Now, she’s learning to advocate for her own child, and that’s a completely different experience.
It’s one thing to know professionally the impact that Schreiber’s services and Lancaster County’s Early Intervention program have on families. It’s another thing to see it personally.
Her daughter Bethany was diagnosed as an infant with torticollis, a condition in infants that causes a baby’s head to tilt constantly to one side. Thanks to the work of Schreiber therapists, Bethany’s torticollis is gone and she runs, jumps and dances just like any 6-year-old little girl, Amanda said.
Bethany’s little brother Leo, 3 years old, has an autism diagnosis, was born with mild hearing loss and also had some torticollis as an infant. The three issues combined have left him behind in several areas of development. When it was time for Leo to receive services through Early Intervention, at 6 months old, Amanda had no hesitation.
“I knew we wanted to come back (to Schreiber) because we had such a positive experience with Bethany,” Amanda said.
Leo has been in good hands his therapy services started. Catherine Donahue was his Schreiber’s Early Intervention specialist for home visits. Dorlas Riley was his speech-language pathologist. Denisha Roberts worked with him in physical therapy. And Bernie Hershey has been his occupational therapist.
“They were all really great,” Amanda said. “I like to think that we’ve been fortunate to have, like, the dream team to be quite honest with you, with all the experience they have with his issues.”
COVID has, at times, made the therapy more challenging, like when the family had to switch to telehealth services for a time. At those moments, she could see the lengths the Schreiber team would go to for a child.
When telehealth sessions switched back to in-person visits, the change and the lack of consistency caused some challenges for Leo, as it does for many kids on the autism spectrum.
“Bernie showed up at one point at our house in costume as Jessie from “Toy Story” to try to re-engage after telehealth with Leo a little bit,” Amanda said. “They just really always made an attempt (to find what) he was interested in and get into his world, which I appreciated so much.”
During a recent therapy session at Schreiber, Leo worked with Marli Hess, an intern in Occupational Therapy, and Maddy Sova, a speech-language pathologist. They were trying to help him become more comfortable with a different kind of food – in this case, a chicken nugget – and to improve his language skills by using a smart tablet to respond to questions.
“We are working on communication in whatever way Leo feels most comfortable,” Amanda said. “Today, you saw him working on some eating, because eating has been a struggle for us, too. So he’s been working on increasing his tolerance for different foods and different textures and things like that. But communication has been, I would say, the biggest one.”
Mom was impressed with the way Leo greeted a visitor to the session, smiling and waving. “He probably wouldn’t have done that six months ago,” she said.
EI services do make a difference
Mandy Kolb Lyons is a coordinator in Lancaster County’s Early Intervention services program. She sent this email to agencies that provide Early Intervention services after a recent presentation to the agencies by Amanda Katchur. Amanda presented at the PA Statewide Interagency Coordinating Council (SICC) meeting to share her family’s story and how Early Intervention supported them.
Here’s an excerpt from Mandy’s email:
“Amanda shared numerous examples of how you helped to coach, support, empower and guide her and her family. Amanda beamed as she shared the journey that her son and family had with Early Intervention and mentioned a few times how Early Intervention supported her entire family, including Leo’s big sister! Not only did Leo grow and progress throughout services, his entire family did. We can only hope that every family that participates in Early Intervention can walk away feeling similarly to how Amanda and her family did after participating in our services.”
Four-year-old Jack Teyssier works through a series of exercises each week at Schreiber. His physical therapy sessions include strengthening and stretching for his lower left leg, some core work and some myofascial release by Schreiber therapist Lisa Stachler-Volk.
Jack Teyssier, 4, finishes his physical therapy session with Schreiber PT Lisa Stachler-Volk.
It’s hard to tell what exactly Jack is dealing with until Lisa puts some kind of black brace-like device on Jack’s left ankle.
Jack has one of the rare disorders therapists at Schreiber see from time to time. In this case, he has myofibromatosis, a condition that causes benign tumors to grow anywhere in the body.
According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders, most cases occur in young children and there can be a familial link. Jack’s mother Kara Teyssier said she had them on her leg and back; they were surgically removed when she was a baby. Her youngest son, Levi, also had one inside his cheek that was treated through chemotherapy and surgery.
It hasn’t been so simple with Jack.
“He has quite the medical history,” Kara said.
While Jack did his exercises with Lisa, Kara went through the list of Jack’s issues.
When he was born, he was diagnosed with pyloric atresia, an obstruction in the part of the stomach that leads to the small intestine. Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia repaired that through surgery, and they also found the first his benign tumors.
At one month, Kara said she and her husband, Ben, noticed Jack’s left foot was droopy. Another of these tumors had developed and was pressing on a nerve in his leg.
So Jack went through a course of chemotherapy, and Kara said most of the tumors have shrunk or disappeared. But the one in his leg had caused permanent damage to the nerve. and Jack had lost the ability to flex his foot normally.
From the time Jack was 7 or 8 months old, Schreiber therapists began working with him at home. That lasted about a year and a half, until the Teyssiers decided he was doing well enough with a brace on his left leg.
Over time, though, his doctors wanted to try and restore more flexibility in his foot. They recommended another surgery, this time to take a tendon from the bottom of his droopy left foot and move it to the top of the same foot.
That surgery happened in March 2019, and he started coming to Schreiber for physical therapy in April.
Lisa has worked on helping him walk better. Before the surgery, the brace kept his foot in a neutral position to help him walk. But he couldn’t flex his foot at all.
“The surgery helped,” Lisa said. “He couldn’t lift his foot at all when we started. Now, he can keep his foot in a neutral (not drooping) position without the brace.”
She has been working on improving the strength of his left leg; his foot tended to roll and he would walk on the side of his foot. He’s also better able to flex his foot up and down. How far he will eventually progress isn’t known.
He can run around and play just like any other 4 year old. He rides a bike without training wheels. When he walks, you can’t even tell he has any kind of a problem, Kara said.
“We have been pleased with his progress,” Kara said. “At home, he doesn’t even wear the brace a lot of the time. Long term, we don’t know if he’ll have to keep the brace. Time will tell what happens as he continues to grow and get stronger. We’re blown away with how far he’s come.”
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.
Maria Corley recognized pretty early on that her son Malcolm was different.
His paternal grandmother was a child psychologist, so she had experience with what typical childhood development looked like, Maria said.
“She noticed that he lined things up for me,” Maria said. “She saw the speech delays. The eye contact thing.”
An evaluation led to a diagnosis: PDD-NOS, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified.
He was on the autism spectrum.
Malcolm was not quite 4 years old.
He started with Schreiber around the same time, first via home visits through Early Intervention then through appointments at the Center for therapy.
Emily Beddow was his occupational therapist almost from the beginning.
“He was 3, maybe 4, when I started seeing him,” Emily said. “We didn’t know if he’d even be able to write, (because of) the way he held his pencil. He’s really come a long way.”
He’s 19 now, tall and thin, like his mother. And he has artistic talents that started when he was young and have stayed with him into his young adulthood. When he was about 3, he started drawing images from the television show “Blues Clues.”
“Then he started doing Dr. Seuss pictures,” Maria said, “copying from ‘ABC’ and ‘Horton Hears a Who.’ When he started school, he had art class. You could see some talent there.”
Through school, his artistic talent continued to develop. He has had two solo art shows, the first through Millersville University’s Office of Visual and Performing Arts. That led to the second, at the Emerald Foundation’s Emerging Artist series.
At the same time, he has quietly launched a small business, Malcom’s Tiles, creating hand-decorated tiles that has helped him earn some money. He sold the tiles at the Lancaster-Lebanon Intermediate Unit 13 and at the National Autism Conference and raised enough money to pay for a trip he really wanted to take: to see the Dutch amusement park Juliana Toren.
“He found the park on YouTube, and he really wanted to go,” Maria said. “He wanted to go so he could hug the two mouse mascots.”
The importance of the experience wasn’t lost on Maria.
“I’m trying to impress on him the fact that making money is helpful,” she said. “If he has some sort of a job where he can also do art, that would be good.”
These are the things you think about when you have a child on the autism spectrum who is about to enter the adult world.
He was discharged from therapy a few years ago, but he still is part of the Schreiber family. He still attends Club 625 outings.
“It’s an important social outlet for him,” Maria said. “That’s something he really looks forward to, socializing with his peer group.”
And Emily and Lisa Christoffel, his speech-language pathologist, both keep in touch. They attended his art shows to show support.
“Some kids and some families leave more of an impression on you,” Lisa said. “I saw Malcolm for more than 10 years. He’s a special kid, and his mom has done such a great job with him.”
That feeling is definitely mutual.
“The caring I’ve felt from the people who have worked with him has been remarkable,” Maria said. “I could see the therapists were really invested in him as a person. When I brought him here, I didn’t even know what his voice sounded like, he was that non-verbal.
“From almost having no language at all, he has learned phrases that allow him to communicate and build relationships. He’s come a long way, definitely.”
The journey isn’t over by any stretch. Maria has the questions all parents have about their kids as they grow up: What will happen to him? How will he take care of himself? Will he have friends? It’s all just a so… unknowable with Malcolm.
“I’m not really sure what he thinks about friends and adult relationships,” Maria said. “Making friends is difficult. He’s interested in girls. He seems happy. But maybe he’s lonely and I just don’t know.
“We’ve talked about the fact that I’m not always going to be here, so he needs to learn to do things for himself.”
Maria will keep working with him on that, teaching him how to advocate for himself, helping him grow his art business. And like any other parent, she will hope for the best.
Maria Corley is a performing pianist and organist who plays concerts at venues around central Pennsylvania. She is also half of Duo Chiaroscuro with cellist Sara Male, frequently offering Silence Optional concerts for people on the autism spectrum. She has two children, Malcolm, 19, and a daughter, Kiana, 21. She lives in East Hempfield Township.
Barbara Willders Tomlinson heard recently there was a photo of her as a girl on the wall at Schreiber, and she stopped by the center recently to see it.
“There I am,” she said, pointing up at a photos that’s part of the large Edna Schreiber piece that hangs in our main waiting area.
Barbara Willders is 82 now. She grew up in Lancaster and was slated to go to the George Washington School for seventh grade in 1949.
Then polio interrupted. She was 13 years old.
That year, 1949, was six years before the polio vaccine, and Barbara was one of 947 cases of the disease in Pennsylvania out of more than 42,000 cases nationwide, the second highest number on record, according to archival statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Barbara said she spent two weeks in the hospital and recuperated at home for most of the summer. She was able to attend school when students headed back in September.
“I was not paralyzed, but I walked funny afterward,” she said. “They used to let me go down the stairs first, by myself. And I had to wear these ugly brown shoes with big straps for about a year.”
She worked with Edna Schreiber weekly, using the Sister Kenny hot blankets that Edna had incorporated into her therapy work to restore muscle tone and movement.
“I would be wrapped up from my neck down to my feet,” Barbara said.
Her therapy continued through her time in seventh grade. She said Edna would pick her up at school, and they would go to what was then known as the Society for Crippled Children and Adults, where Edna worked.
“She was very kind and sweet,” Barbara said. “She would lay me down and have me do things, see how my legs were working.”
That’s pretty much what’s happening in the photo: Barbara is sitting on a table, and Edna is helping her straighten her right leg. Barbara is wearing a plaid skirt and a white blouse.
“That’s probably what I wore to school that day,” she said.
I helped her into a chair to pose for a picture. She uses a walker, but it’s not because of any lingering effects of the polio. An inner ear problem has left her with occasional dizziness and difficulties with balance.
She looked up at the photo again. She said she worked with Edna for about a year, and by eighth grade, she was mostly OK.
“I was one of the lucky ones,” she said.
Seventy years later, she was able to see how the work of Edna Schreiber continues. And she was able to see her own place in that history.
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.
Miles eventually received occupational and speech therapy, along with continuing his PT. He was with Jay Graver in preschool for two years, and he was joined the second year by his younger brother Levi.
“Miles was here three times a week for preschool and therapy, Levi was here twice a week,” said Dani, who lives in West Lampeter Township with her husband, David, and the boys. “We were coming every day for that year.”
“When we were looking around for preschools for Miles, I liked the emphasis here on diversity and that there are children of all abilities,” said Dani, who has an associate degree from Harrisburg Area Community College in early childhood education. “I liked it so much I’ve sent all my boys here.”
Well, almost all. The youngest, Asher, is only 4 months old. He comes along when Mom drops off Levi and Isaac, so he’s getting to know Schreiber, too. Even if it’s only as the place where he gets his morning feeding and a nap.
Soon enough, though, Mr. Jay can probably expect to see the fourth Brenneman boy come through.