Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Giving Season

Everyone is getting offers from retail stores in the mail. Everyone is getting Christmas cards from loved ones. Everyone is getting reminders that it’s the gift giving season.  One reminder that it is the giving season will be from Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region. If you give to ESDFVR, three things will happen.

First, help us insure that every child receives therapy. If you give to Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region, you are supporting our ability to provide financial assistance. We provide financial assistance for children who are uninsured or underinsured and could not otherwise afford critical therapy services.

Second, help our therapists stay world renowned! Your donation will help our therapists attend courses and receive training. These courses help them provide new and innovative services to our clients. Third, your gift will support progressive programs, new equipment and organizational needs to maintain our reputation as one of the largest and most highly regarded pediatric outpatient rehabilitation center in North America.

If you give to Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region, you will be supporting three things. You give the gift of independence to our clients, the gift of excellence to our therapists, and the gift of advancement for the entire center.

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We Are Thankful

At Easter Seals DuPage Fox Valley Region, we have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. Our staff works so hard throughout the year. Our therapists encourage our clients to achieve maximum independence. Our parents applaud the therapists and their children on their journey toward maximum independence. We’re grateful that we are a well oiled machine. Here are the top 13 things we are grateful for.

  1. We are thankful for our physical therapists. They help us walk, crawl, run and more!
  2. We are thankful for our occupational therapists. They help us with sensory issues, self care and daily living skills.
  3. We are thankful for our speech and nutrition therapists. They help us learn to talk, learn to use   our assistive technology devices and help us with eating.
  4. We are thankful for our audiology department. They help people of all ages hear and enjoy life.
  5. We are thankful for our maintenance department. If anything goes wrong, they are there as fast as they can.
  6. We are thankful for our development department. They have fundraisers so our clients get the equipment we need so our clients can achieve maximum independence.
  7. We are thankful for our finance department. They help clients with financial aid and pay our bills on time.
  8. We are thankful for our scheduling department. They help us schedule all our therapy times and administrative meetings.
  9. We are thankful for our Lily Garden teachers. They teach our little ones morals and values regardless of ability.
  10. We are thankful for our Easter Seals DuPage Fox Valley Region Board members. They are all extremely committed to us and we appreciate their hard work.
  11. We are very thankful for our donors. We would not have a beautiful center or the equipment we need without our dedicated donors.
  12. We are thankful for the lovely receptionists. We walk in to see your smiles every day!
  13. Lastly, we are thankful for our clients. We love dedicating our lives to seeing you grow, prosper, and achieve maximum independence!

We are truly thankful for everything and everyone at Easter Seals DuPage Fox Valley Region. Please leave a comment and tell us what are you thankful for.

Headed to the Gym

Physical activity for people with disabilities is crucial. If we don’t participate in the proper amount of physical activity, our physical impairments could get worse. For me, the proper amount of physical activity is physical therapy twice a week and getting out of my chair as much as I can. I know this is incredibly important, however, I get distracted. I’ll make plans with friends ex: go shopping and it creates a distraction. Obviously, I can’t always be exercising or stretching; I would not have a social life or go to work, but I have to balance physical exercise with the demands of life.

National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability state:

“More recently, the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans provides science-based guidance to help individuals with disabilities aged 6 and older improve their health through appropriate physical activity. These benefits are even more important if you have a disability, since people with disabilities have a tendency to live less active lifestyles”.

This is a challenge that everybody deals with. How much do I work out? What exercise classes are best? We all struggle with balance. How many hours of therapy give my child a life and also maximizes independence? It’s a hard question that I don’t have the answer to.

 However, some people commit their life’s work to physical fitness. The community of Easter Seals DuPage and the Fox Valley Region would think of our wonderful physical therapists as people who dedicate their lives to physical fitness and we do appreciate them. However, some people with disabilities decide to shatter stereotypes in the world of physical fitness. Craig Koonce, a power lifter who has Cerebral Palsy does that every day. He defies the odds in a gym. Koonce goes to the gym everyday to prepare for weight lifting competitions. He won state in Pennsylvania  in 2010 for power lifting and he went on to nationals.  He dreams of starting a center that takes holistic approaches for both disabled and able-bodied individuals. Check out his story here.

We can’t all be like Craig. I could never spend that many hours in a gym. That amount of physical activity does not appeal to me. Personally, I set aside certain parts of the day to have my personal care attendants get me out of my chair. It can be as simple as laying on the couch and watching my favorite TV show or after work, I usually stand with an attendant for a good ten minutes. USA Today states, “If you are in a negative-thinking cycle for more than 10 minutes, stop thinking and start moving. Move your body every hour; sitting saps motivation”. The magazine also says, building incentives and giving yourself a rest day is a good way to keep working out.

You can set your own regime and choose your own activities but it’s important to remember that physical activity is crucial when you have a disability. Plus, the holidays are practically here…if you exercise, you won’t feel as bad when you eat all those holiday goodies!

The Power of a Communication Device

My communication device and I were not always best friends. I would not use it. I pushed it away, I would use it in speech therapy, but at home I opted for my cardboard ABC board. My stubborn eight-year-old mind said, my ABC board works fine and most people around me can understand my nonverbal cues. I was not motivated to use my communication device, the DynaVox, and my parents and therapists were incredibly frustrated. To me, it didn’t feel like my voice. I would use my natural voice to communicate with important people like Mom, Dad, and my teachers. Who else did I need to communicate with? Nobody…at least I thought.

 My therapists and parents knew that I had a lot to say that I couldn’t communicate on my ABC board. They did everything they could think of. Looking back, they were really intuitive to what I wanted. I wanted to have control over my device, so, they did something very smart. My speech therapist taught me how to program my DynaVox. I felt like I had control. Now, I didn’t change my mind over night. It took a good two years for me to feel like the DynaVox was mine. It took my parents pushing me to a use my device, my assistants being patient, and my speech therapist working relentlessly with me and seeing my potential.

On the day I chose to have my DynaVox on the bus with me, it was not because of my parents, therapists, or assistants. It was because I wanted to talk to my crush. It did help that I felt extremely comfortable with my device.

If you are a parent going through the frustration of your child not wanting to use her or his device, be patient. Let your child know why the device will be important. Your patience and persistence can pay off. There are a plethora of success stories. This one in particular proves that if parents believe in their child, anything is possible. Click here to see a remarkable story.

As for me, I became a motivational speaker. I have spoken to doctors, teachers, psychologists, and-my favorite,-students about accepting people for who they are. I also speak about patients with special needs to doctors so they can have more patience with people who use communication devices. I would not be where I am at if people did not see my potential at an early age.