Preschool moms donate books to Schreiber

The idea started from chat between two Schreiber S.T.A.R.S. Preschool moms. Jennel Roberts and Michelle Miller are both independent consultants for Usborne Books and More, a company that distributes a wide array of books, including children’s books.

Michelle Miller, left, and Jennel Roberts recently visited Schreiber with their S.T.A.R.S. preschoolers to deliver $780 in donated Usborne books to Schreiber.

Jennel wanted to host a party to invite guests to come and buy books. And she wanted to add a charitable spin. People could either shop for themselves, and Usborne would match 50 percent of sales with donated books. Or book shoppers could make a direct donation, which Michelle then used to buy more books.

The result: The friends delivered four boxes of books, worth a total of $780, that are now being used in Schreiber’s therapy and preschool programs. The gift arrived in plenty of time for the April 23’s World Book Day, a global celebration of authors, books and reading.

Michelle is a two-time S.T.A.R.S. mom. Her daughter Amy is a preschool grad, and a younger daughter Adrienne is currently enrolled.

“I’m a TSS (therapeutic support staff), and my client received services from Schreiber,” Michelle said, balancing her youngest, 1-year-old Tommy, on her lap. “We love Schreiber, and the preschool being inclusional was important to us.”

Michelle Miller, holding her son Tommy, said her passion for Schreiber and kids with special needs led her to donate Usborne books.

Schreiber’s inclusional or reverse mainstream philosophy places preschoolers with special needs in the same classroom as their typically developing peers.

“I wanted my kids to be around kids who were different from them,” she said. “I want them to learn to be an advocate and a voice for those kids in elementary school.”

Michelle has been an Usborne independent contractor for five years. You can find her online sales page here. She has an ongoing promotion now where once she reaches $250 in order, 50 percent of the retail total is donated to Schreiber as free books.

She also runs regular reading and literacy challenges for parents who follow her on Facebook. You can ask to join the group here.

“These are great books for all ages, even some for young adults,” Michelle said. “The philosophy of the company is to not talk down to kids, to treat them as inquisitive and create engaging, interactive books.”

Building inquisitive, engaged readers at Schreiber. We can’t think of a better way to celebrate World Book Day.

Circle of Friends rated STAR 4 again

Schreiber’s Circle of Friends Academy child care program again received a STAR 4 rating from Pennsylvania’s Keystone STARS program, the highest rating possible under the state’s child care ratings. It’s the eighth straight year for Schreiber to receive the rating, which is intended to help parents and guardians compare the quality of different child care programs.

Jessica Shaab cares for Ellie Ricketts in Schreiber’s Circle of Friends Academy Infant Room.

The state evaluates early learning programs in four key areas: staff education, learning environment, leadership/management and family/community partnerships.

“The STAR 4 rating tells us and the community the state believes we’re doing things right,” said Christina Kalyan, child care director at Circle of Friends. “We’re different from most Lancaster child care centers because we have kids with special needs next to their typically developing friends. And for those kids who need therapy or early intervention services, our therapists can do that while the kids are here during the day.”

News of the rating coincides with the start of two programs that celebrate the importance of high-quality early education in April. Pennsylvania’s Promise for Children (PA Promise) offers the Month of the Young Child, which focuses public attention on the needs of young children and their families and recognizes the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is organizing its 50th anniversary Week of the Young Child April 10-16 to celebrate early learning, young children, their teachers, families and communities.

Circle of Friends has special instruction planned throughout the month, including lessons on dinosaurs, kites and wind and social skills activities that teach the value of diversity.

Schreiber’s child care center, S.T.A.R.S. Preschool and array of therapy services helps children of all abilities reach their fullest potential.

Schreiber marks Women’s History Month

March was Women’s History Month, and we have been noting throughout the month on social media the enormous contributions that women have made throughout Schreiber’s 85 years. In fact, Schreiber’s story starts with a woman, Edna Schreiber. We trace our roots back to the organization she started here in Lancaster County in 1936. So we thought it was fitting to begin our celebration with a note about Edna on March 8, which was International Women’s Day.

Since then, we have been highlighting several women at Schreiber today, therapists, educators and others who are continuing the work that Edna started all those years ago, work that remains critical to families here in Lancaster and across all of central Pennsylvania.

In Edna’s spirit: Service

Service at Schreiber: 41 years

Department: Speech-Language Pathology

Best part of your job today: Being a part of such a professional dedicated and friendly staff serving special children and families in the community.

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Serving many families through Early Intervention over the many years.

In Edna’s spirit: Growth

Service at Schreiber: 33 years

Department: Occupational Therapy

Best part of your job today: Working as the OT in the STARS Preschool as part of the team that provides education and therapy services for the children in those classes.

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: One past preschooler that I provided OT services to is now a young adult. She uses her creativity and love for her community to create painted artwork and crafts to sell during the pandemic. She gives 50 percent of her sales to local charities, with Schreiber being the first organization she contributed to. That’s what it’s all about. It comes full circle when the children you invest in, use their skills that they worked on in therapy to become productive members of the community and turn around and invest in others.

In Edna’s spirit: Dedication

Service at Schreiber: 28 years

Department: Occupational Therapy

Best part of your job today: Seeing the kids put their hand prints up on the wall, because it shows their progress.

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: That the families and kids put their trust in me and allow me to become a part of their lives and see these kids achieve their goals.

In Edna’s spirit: Commitment

Service at Schreiber: 27 years

Department: Physical Therapy

Best part of your job today: Working with children to help them achieve their best physical potential.

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Helping a teen develop her goals and work towards them. Watching this same teen overcome so many obstacles to walk across the stage at her college graduation. Seeing this same young women as a wife, mother and businesswoman in our community.

In Edna’s spirit: Connection

Service at Schreiber: 27 years

Department: S.T.A.R.S. Preschool

Best part of your job today: Working with Jay (Graver) and seeing smiling faces! And continuing to see them long after they graduate from preschool!

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Introducing my daughter-in-law to my son all because of Club 625! Lisa Gilbert and I started Teen Scene many years ago, and it later developed into Club 625 as our teens grew older! I never would have guessed when Teen Scene started that I would end up with a “daughter” out of that awesome program!

In Edna’s spirit: Discovery

Service at Schreiber: 24 years

Department: Physical therapy

Best part of your job today: The kids and their families and helping them grow.

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: I have so many happy memories it is is hard to pick one. One memory is of a little girl I saw who had a prosthetic leg who wanted to dance but was told she could not. I was a dance teacher but was not teaching at the time, so I got her hooked up with a friend of mine and former board member, Marilyn Beitel. Cystal was then going to perform for a luncheon, but Marilyn couldn’t help her rehearse, so I ran her rehearsals and got to see her perform. Amazing!

Another memory is of a kid who had no independent mobility but loved splashing in the pool. He was getting an above-ground pool from Make-a-Wish, and the family needed to find a floatation device so that mom didn’t have to hold him up the whole time. I took him in our pool and found not only a good floatation device, but discovered that this kiddo with no mobility could safely swim by himself with the right floatation.

The best memories are in the quiet moments when a child discovers something new they can do!

In Edna’s spirit: Passion

Service at Schreiber: 15 years

Department: Preschool

Best part of your job today: Having the opportunity to help the families of young children

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: Recently, in a tele-intervention session, a young mom was explaining to me why the strategies we had talked about didn’t work with her son. We spent some time talking about the challenges of 2 year olds, and especially of trying to raise a 2 year old while living in a hotel room. We spent some time talking about what she was doing right. We brainstormed solutions to some of her other concerns and I gave her educational ideas that she could do within her routines and with what she had. At the end of the session, she came up with her own excellent idea to make the strategy that she had started the session discouraged about, work for her and her son. She was excited to give it a try, but I think I was even more excited for her.

In Edna’s spirit: Advocacy

Service at Schreiber: 13 years

Department: Social services/Family Support

Best part of your job today: Interacting with the kids and their families and seeing their progress

One accomplishment you take extra pride in: I actually have two. Starting our Respite Program and advocating for the addition of the behavioral health department.

MJ Bermudez: Beating the odds with work, Schreiber therapy

MJ Bermudez was in the middle of an aquatic therapy session with Schreiber PT Laurie Panther when a photographer started snapping his picture.

Right away, a big smile spread across MJ’s face. This is somebody who likes having his picture taken.

MJ Bermudez exercises during aquatic therapy with Laurie Panther, a Schreiber physical therapist.

“He doesn’t speak, but he understands everything,” says his mother, Sharon Petrosky. “He has lots of personality. He’s smart, with a great sense of humor.”

When Sharon talks about MJ, when she lists all the things he’s able to do, she says God is the only explanation for so much of it.

Yes, she has had amazing doctors since he was born 7 years ago. And, yes, the therapists that have worked with MJ, at Schreiber and at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Del., have done remarkable work.

But when she first learned of his complication during her pregnancy, she could not have imagined then where he would be today.

“The doctors we saw at the very beginning thought he would be blind, that he would be intellectually impaired, that he wouldn’t grow properly,” Sharon says. “None of that has happened. Nobody can really explain why, but he has exceeded every prognosis we’ve ever been given.”

A difficult diagnosis

While Sharon was still pregnant with MJ, doctors noticed the baby’s brain wasn’t developing correctly. The official diagnosis was septo optic dysplasia, a kind of cerebral palsy. It’s a disorder of early brain development that is generally associated with three features: underdevelopment of the optic nerves; abnormal formation of structures along the midline of the brain; and growth hormone deficiency.

Sharon didn’t really know what to expect when MJ was born, but she knew it wouldn’t be easy.

The blindness, growth issues and intellectual impairment didn’t happen. But he does have difficulty walking because of the way his legs have developed. And he can’t speak because of muscular issues related to his jaw structure.

“He can say about 11 words,” Sharon says. “But he can communicate. If somebody has a question about him, I’ll say: ‘Ask him. He can tell you.'”

Her focus has been helping him walk and talk. The efforts to help him walk include a remarkable procedure performed last summer at Nemours/duPont. They saw Dr. Jason Howard, an internationally recognized specialist in cerebral palsy, with particular expertise in hip displacement.

Sharon said MJ had developed an unusual way of walking because of the way his leg bones and muscles had formed, and his muscles were literally pulling his hip out of joint, which ended up slowly grinding his hip sockets.

She said Dr. Howard took one look at the X-rays and immediately saw a looming problem.

“He said within six months the damage would be irreversible,” she said. “He wanted to do surgery as soon as possible.”

The surgery on July 22 was one of those “how do they do that” miracles of modern science: four surgeons, seven hours, 14 different procedures. It involved cutting through his femurs, pulling the ball out of each socket, detaching and reattaching some muscles to have them pull correctly on his hips, and then putting in some hardware to keep everything in place during healing.

“I’ve been doing this 10 years, I’ve never had a kid recover like this from this surgery. He just blew everybody out of the water.”

Laurie Panther, Schreiber physical therapist

“We were at Nemours for more than two months; it’s a phenomenal place,” Sharon said. “We literally lived there. He had different therapies four times a day. They had a classroom for him for school. And then when it was time to come home, they set us up with outpatient therapy here at Schreiber.”

That started around September. He comes for physical therapy twice a week to continue rehabbing those hips, and he also receives occupational therapy (twice a week) and speech-language pathology (once a week). All together, he’s usually at Schreiber three days a week. Plus, he receives all three therapies at school through IU13.

“The doctor said MJ is 12-18 months ahead of the average schedule post-surgery,” Sharon says. “We have once last surgery this July to remove the hardware in his hips. But he is fully healed.”

Progress at Schreiber

Laurie Panther, the PT who has worked with him the most, said his mobility was pretty limited when he started at Schreiber.

“He was not walking,” Laurie said. “He was using a wheelchair as his primary means of  mobility. He could use a walker for short distances. He couldn’t get up off the floor.”

That’s all typical after the kind of complex surgery MJ had. Laurie said the typical post-surgery recovery for a kiddo with CP to get back to their pre-surgery status is 1-2 years. Mark is there after just seven months.

“He’s actually an enigma,” she said. “I’ve been doing this 10 years, I’ve never had a kid recover like this from this surgery. He just blew everybody out of the water. He’s doing everything he was doing before the surgery, with better alignment, which was the point of his surgery.”

10 more calming strategies to reduce anxiety

By Missy Ressler

Here is our sixth and final post in Schreiber’s series on The Many Faces of Anxiety. Today focuses on a few additional calming strategies. Please share some of your family’s calming strategies in the comments below. We are all in this together, and your strategies will help someone else.

Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1:What is Worry
Post 2:How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3:How worry affects our bodies
Post 4: A little spot of anxiety
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: 10 more calming strategies

Here are 10 more strategies to use to help calm the mind so you can think clearly and the use the strategies discussed in previous posts.

  1. Identify the size of the problem and expected reaction. Most problems are little and we need to have a little reaction. A lot of times we have a big reactions to small problems. First, identify if the problem is little or big and what an expected reaction would be. Little problems are things we can solve ourselves or quickly with an adult’s help. It is expected we stay calm. A big problem affects many people, and it takes a lot of people or a long time to solve it. It would be expected to be upset, but we still need to stay calm so our brain can solve the problem.   
  2. Progressive muscle relaxation/squish and relax. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head by squeezing one body part at a time for 3 seconds then relaxing it.
  3. Adult coloring books, mandalas or any coloring activity.
  4. Relaxing music.
  5. Yoga. Check out cosmickids.com The site also has a lot of mindfulness activities. 
  6. Play with your pet.
  7. Guided relaxation. Think about your favorite place, and use podcasts and guided relaxation scripts for kids that you can find online.
  8. Use ‘I statements’ to express how you feel and what you want. “I feel sad when I can’t see my friends. I would like to Zoom with them.”
  9. Calming bottle. Fill an empty water bottle ½ to ¾ full with water. Add beads, glitter glue, glitter, food coloring, shells, little bit of oil, or anything that would fit into the bottle and survive in water. Use plastic craft glue or duct tape to secure the lid so water does not leak out. Shake the bottle and take deep breaths while watching all the items float around. Our mind and body should calm just like the items in the bottle. 
  10. The Dear Anxiety podcast. I highly recommend this. You can find it here. It is great for parents and kids.

Please share your child’s coping skills in the comments below.

Missy Ressler is behavioral health program supervisor at the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development.

Family’s connection to Schreiber grows with Rubber Duckie Race

Logan and Nicholas Campbell are almost-6-year-old twin boys with twin obsessions: lawn mowers and Schreiber’s Duckie.

Nathan Campbell, left, and his twin sons Logan and Nicholas, pose with the new Schreiber Duckie mascot. Nathan and his wife Lauren, who live in Camp Hill, have sold more than 200 Duckie tickets to friends there. ‘My wife put up a Facebook post (about selling Duckies), and our friends are buying them like crazy,’ Nathan said.

The boys were in all their glory this week when they stopped in with dad Nathan Campbell, who was picking up tickets to sell for Schreiber’s annual Rubber Duckie Race.

The iconic inflatable Duckie was standing tall outside, and a mowing team was navigating around the Duckie and the Schreiber building with thousands of Duckies inside.

“They love seeing the Duckie,” Nathan said.

The Campbells drive 45 minutes from their home in Camp Hill to Schreiber every week for services. Logan was born with a mild form of cerebral palsy and receives physical therapy and speech-language therapy. Nicholas was born with some developmental delays and comes for PT and OT. They’ve been making the trek to Schreiber for about two years.

“There’s nothing like Schreiber up around us, which is unfortunate, so we’re happy to make the drive,” Nathan said. “We love it here.”

There’s nothing like Schreiber up around us, which is unfortunate, so we’re happy to make the drive. We love it here.

Nathan Campbell

Nathan was picking up 210 Duckies for tickets he and his wife Lauren have already sold to friends and neighbors in Camp Hill.

“They don’t know anything about Schreiber, but they know the boys and want to want to support us,” Nathan said. “My wife put up a Facebook post the other day, and people have been buying them like crazy.”

While their dad answered questions, Logan and Nicholas kept an eye on the big Duckie and the mowers. Then they posed for a quick photo with our new Duckie mascot before heading out the door, on their way back to Camp Hill to sell more Duckies for Schreiber.

Become a Duckie seller

The more Duckie sellers we have, the more Duckies we sell and the more money we raise. And every Duckie dollar is doubled by a matching grant from the Stabler Foundation. Want to join the team? Contact Erica Croce at 717-393-0425 ext. 105 or ecroce@schreiberpediatric.org. Or fill out the online form here.

How worry affects our thinking

by Missy Ressler

In the fifth post in our series of anxiety, Schreiber’s Behavioral Health therapists share strategies for when your child forms worry links and asks “what if” questions. In order to help families who are struggling with scary emotions over wearing masks or seeing people in masks, please share a picture of your family wearing masks. You can learn other tips for coping with masks here.

Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1:What is Worry
Post 2:How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3:How worry affects our bodies
Post 4:A Little Spot of Anxiety’
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: Other calming strategies

Missy Ressler is the Behavioral Health program supervisor at Schreiber.

‘A Little Spot of Anxiety’

By Kaity Sollenberger

Today in Post 4 in our series on anxiety Schreiber Behavioral Health therapists suggest a book to read with your child.

Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1: What is Worry
Post 2: How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3: How worry affects our bodies
Post 4: A little spot of anxiety
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: Other calming strategies

Anxiety can be a hard emotion for children and adults to understand because it is considered a complex emotion. Anxiety can be a mix of many different emotions, including worry, nervousness, fear and sadness, to name just a few. The interesting thing about anxiety is that is can also protect you. Feeling anxiety can be healthy in small doses, but when anxiety gets too big it can be really hard to understand and manage. “A Little Spot of Anxiety,” by Diane Alber, is a great book geared toward school-aged children that explains what anxiety is and how is can affect your body sensations. This book also suggests different activities and strategies in order to help manage your anxiety.

Remember, children need to be coached and guided through regulation of all emotion, including anxiety. This is called co-regulation. In other words, model how to appropriately regulate through your anxiety. First and foremost, make sure you are regulated, then you can help to co-regulate your child. Our goal is to regulate the child, relate to how they are feeling, and then instruct and teach.

Here is a YouTube link to watch a reading of the book.

Kaity Sollenberger is a behavioral health therapist at Schreiber.

How worry affects our bodies

By Missy Ressler

Today’s video post in our series about anxiety will explain how stress and anxiety affect our bodies and offer some tips on how to slow or stop the worry cycle.

Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1: What is Worry
Post 2: How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3: How worry affects our bodies
Post 4: A little spot of anxiety
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: Other calming strategies

Printable downloads

Missy Ressler is the behavioral health program supervisor at Schreiber.

Post 2: How the Autonomic Nervous System works

By Kaity Sollenberger

This is the second in a six-part series of posts about anxiety, presented by Schreiber’s behavioral health therapists. Today, we take a look at the brain and the Autonomic Nervous System.

Here’s the list of all the posts:
Post 1: What is Worry
Post 2: How the Autonomic Nervous System works
Post 3: How worry affects our body
Post 4: A little spot of anxiety
Post 5: How worry affects our thinking
Post 6: Other calming strategies

The last few months have been full of unknowns, unexpected changes, uncertainties and fear for both adults and children alike. These circumstances can wreak havoc on our bodies, specifically our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), which can lead to an increase of challenging behaviors. The Autonomic Nervous System is a part of our brain and body that controls reactions when it believes the body is in danger. If our brain perceives a threat, it will begin to prepare our body for action – our fight, flight or freeze responses.

There are three major branches to the ANS: the Ventral Vagal branch, Sympathetic branch and the Dorsal Vagal branch. The Ventral branch serves as the social engagement system, meaning you feel calm, controlled, safe and socially engaged. The Sympathetic system controls fight or flight and prepares the body to respond to a perceived threat. In this branch, behaviors will begin to increase and the person will become agitated, frantic and possibly aggressive. The Dorsal Vagal branch is our freeze response. The body will begin to feel numb and heavy. The person will have little motivation or a desire to participate in activities.

Think of these three branches as a kind of ladder. The Ventral Vagal branch would be at the top, the Sympathetic branch would be in the middle and the Dorsal Vagal branch is at the bottom. We go up and down this ladder throughout the day. We want to stay more toward the top instead of the middle or the bottom.

Due to all of the changes, uncertainties and fears our bodies are most likely in the Sympathetic branch right now. But good news – there are ways to regulate your Autonomic Nervous System and help move up the ladder to the Ventral Vagal branch!

Some regulation suggestions for children include taking slow, deep breaths; giving them something to chew on, suck on or crunch on; making sure they’re not hungry or tired; helping them with muscle relaxation; reducing noise and dimming the lights. Click on this link for other ideas.

Remember, children need to be coached and guided through regulation. This is called co-regulation. In other words, model how to appropriately regulate through your emotional responses. First and foremost, make sure you are regulated, then you can help to co-regulate your child. Our goal is to regulate the child, relate to how they are feeling, and then instruct and teach.

Kaity Sollenberger is a behavioral therapist at Schreiber.