Aerie came to Special Kids when she was 2 months old after being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy (CP) is a disorder that affects muscle tone, movement, and motor skills. Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common congenital disorders of childhood. About 500,000 children and adults of all ages in the United States have the condition.*
From the day Aerie began attending Special Kids, she has been covered in love by the staff and has blossomed. Reflecting on the past, Aerie’s mom Amy shares, “Special Kids got us through those early, dark days. Without Special Kids I don’t know what I would have done or where we would be today. They treat Aerie and I like we are part of their family, and we feel like they are our family. They are always here for me to talk, pray with me, if I need supplies, anything! I am a single mom who had no help and Special Kids has been nothing but a blessing to Aerie and I.”
Since attending Special Kids, Aerie has been a part of our Nursing and Equip programs and received physical, occupational, feeding, and speech therapies. Special Kids’ professional nursing services, or Pediatric Prescribed Skilled Nursing (PPSN), is designed to provide families with a safe, loving environment for their child to receive medical care during daytime hours. One of the unique aspects of this program is the integration of PPSN with Equip. Equip is a kindergarten readiness program for 3- and 4-year olds to serve as peer models to our nursing children. Equip children are together with the nursing children throughout the day in this program that incorporates activities for handwriting, alphabet recognition, active play, life skills, and fine motor skill development. “The peer modeling aspect of Equip has really benefitted Aerie to help her develop socially. She is treated like all the other children and participates in all activities,” says Tori Bivens, Lead Recreational Therapist. Some of those activities include circle time, free play time, individual sessions, eating times, craft time, and Bible studies. Amy says, “Aerie is learning and being taught while at Special Kids. Aerie knows how to write her name, she has wonderful manners, is taught the Bible, all while nurses are checking on her. At Special Kids, Aerie receives her therapies, she is learning and will be ready for kindergarten, and she plays with friends and has fun, and receives God’s love. It’s everything she needs, all at the same place. Also, because of Special Kids and her Bible studies, it has gotten me back into church – all because of Special Kids and Aerie. Aerie loves going to church and we are there every Wednesday and Sunday. I never would have found God again if it weren’t for Special Kids. My life, and Aerie’s, is completely turned around.”
Aerie has blossomed in ways physically as well her mom never imagined possible. From crawling, to walking with a walker, to walking with braces with support, to today walking, and even running and jumping, independently! “I’ll never forget the day Aerie came home and walked to me without help. It was the most special day,” shares Amy.
“This place saved us! It’s like a fairy tale. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate everything. I wouldn’t want Aerie anywhere else. Outsiders who have come into contact with Aerie tell me she has such a presence about her and it is all because of Special Kids.” While the nursing and therapy staff pour into Aerie, the Special Kids Family Resource staff pours into Amy. Family Resources has been with Amy every step of the way, helping to navigate all the obstacles the families of medically fragile children face. Amy says that her stress level is much less and her anxiety is controlled because of this support – emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Together, Aerie’s mom and our staff are preparing Aerie for a life where CP does not define her. All of the therapies she receives are preparing Aerie for life outside of the nursing program, a life that includes elementary school and all that childhood has to offer.
*Statistic from KidsHealth.org