Please choose from the following inspiring
stories from clients of ReadyStart.
Ready – "Maria's Story"
Maria walks fast… very fast. Striding down the hallway at a pace one would typically expect to find in that of a champion speedwalker, she comes across as someone who knows where she's going and how she's going to get there. It is a confidence that now infuses her daily life.
Twenty years ago, however, this confidence was marred by uncertainty and fear. Her baby was diagnosed with spina bifida. The doctor told Maria that her daughter would never be able to walk or crawl. Like many of the parents who seek ReadyStart services, Maria knew that her daughter was going to need some help and in spite of the bleak diagnosis, Maria knew that she had to do whatever she could to help her daughter prove the doctor wrong.
The pediatrician referred Maria's daughter to ReadyStart and Maria was eager to get started. The ReadyStart therapists began working with her daughter. They also listened to Maria's concerns, gave her whatever support she needed, and showed her exercises that she could do with her daughter outside of therapy time. The ReadyStart therapist advised Maria to do the exercises twice a day. Maria did them six or seven times a day. And the determination of the therapist, of Maria, and of her daughter paid off. Her daughter made amazing progress and not only started crawling but eventually started walking as well.
Maria's journey with ReadyStart did not end, however, when her daughter left ReadyStart services. Inspired by the impact that ReadyStart had made on her life and the life of her child, Maria decided to give back and volunteer. When her daughter was dismissed from ReadyStart, Maria called and offered her services. Her first assignment was acting as a translator for a Hispanic family receiving ReadyStart services. At that time, ReadyStart's Early Childhood Intervention Program was center based so Maria also offered transportation assistance and began shuttling the family to their ReadyStart appointments. Then she offered to teach them English. She wanted to help other families and there is no doubt that she did so.
Maria's volunteer service eventually evolved into a paid position and she started working for ReadyStart, acting as an aide to therapists. Her journey with ReadyStart moved her from interpreter and assistant to case manager to outreach coordinator. She started out working part time and now is employed full time. Over the course of the years, she has touched the lives of many families and given back to the community in so many ways.
Maria personifies what we strive to achieve for every family and child that comes to ReadyStart. She is ready. She is ready to take on new challenges. She is ready to succeed. Maria's daughter was enabled to be ready to do all of the things the doctor said she would never be able to do. Readiness is what we work toward and our hope is that with ReadyStart's help, all of the families that we encounter will be ready to take on life and truly thrive, just as Maria has done.
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Resilience – "Cara's Story"
One of the remarkable qualities that we continue to see in the children we work with is resilience. Children exhibit an amazing ability to overcome setbacks and often show us just how important it is to have a resilient spirit that remembers to never give up, even when the odds are stacked against you. Cara is just one of the many children who continue to inspire us.
Before she was even born, Cara seemed to beat the odds. At a 20 week ultrasound, Cara's parents were told that there were significant reasons to be concerned about the growth of their unborn daughter. Cara's brain ventricle was swelling and the connection from her aorta to her heart was insufficient. At birth, Cara was taken directly into the NICU because she was having trouble breathing on her own.
Surgery came when she was just four days old to repair her heart issue and in the weeks following the surgery, there continued to be one complication after another. Cara suffered a stroke and then needed dialysis as well as a chest tube for fluid on her lungs. In addition, chromosome tests showed that Cara had Turner Syndrome, a condition that would affect her stature and reproductive system, and was also closely tied with the type of heart problem that Cara was born with. The fact that Cara had survived the pregnancy proved she was a fighter. The diagnosis for Cara, however, remained bleak. Her parents were told that for the remainder of her life, she would function at the level of a 6 month old.
Cara went home at 5 weeks of age and in spite of the diagnosis, Cara's parents believed that their daughter would do great things. They contacted ReadyStart and made the referral for Cara. She began receiving vision therapy and occupational therapy. Over the next two years, physical therapy and speech therapy were added to her treatment plan. Since then, her strides in development have been nothing short of a miracle.
It has been a road full of doctor's appointments, feeding issues and other things not on the agenda of the average two year old. Cara's outlook on life, however, is that there is nothing that she can't do. Socially and cognitively, Cara is now showing skills right alongside other two year old children, proving once again that she can beat the odds prescribed for her. There is still an unknown road ahead and there continue to be difficulties, but Cara is a bright, social, funny girl. Her resilient spirit has helped her overcome so much already and will continue to serve her well into the future.
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Enlightened – "Mary's Story"
The Brazzel family needed no prompting to make a referral for their son, Ben, when they began to suspect that he was experiencing a speech delay. Their older son had already received services from ReadyStart and Mary Brazzel, Ben's mother, knew from experience there was no time to waste.
At nine months old, Ben had begun to make some limited sounds. All of sudden, however, he got quiet. This regression was something Mary had experienced with her older son. In his case, the pediatrician had seemed unconcerned. With her older son Mary says she wanted to believe the "good stuff" so she hesitated to refer him to ReadyStart's Early Childhood Intervention Program. When she saw the same pattern develop in her younger son, she made the referral immediately.
Mary describes feeling scared, not knowing what had happened, why her son had suddenly stopped speaking. She felt comfortable with ReadyStart though, and knew that she wanted Ben to start therapy as soon as possible. The ReadyStart therapist stepped in and after only a month Ben began to experience some improvements. Since then he has kept up the pace and never looked back. In fact his mother now says he never stops talking!
In addition to providing therapeutic services, Mary says one of the biggest impacts the ReadyStart therapist makes is in the form of advice. The therapist has provided a listening ear and a voice of comfort, offered Mary professional resources to turn to, and referred her to websites that sell therapeutic materials.
Ben is doing so well at this point that his therapy sessions have been scaled back. The visits only consist of a check once a month to make sure he's on target. The child that has emerged is one that is social and sweet, one who imitates language and actions, and is right on target developmentally.
Like so many parents, Mary was initially fearful. Suspicion that your child might be delayed in his or her development can lead to a moment of real parenting panic. What makes the experience all the more harrowing can be the conflicting advice sometimes received from doctors, babysitters, family members, neighbors, and the like. Mary Brazzel navigated this confusing journey with her first son and the experience, in a word, enlightened her. When Ben began to show signs of a delay she responded sooner, followed her instincts and found a solution. As she says, the most important thing is "getting help for your child as soon as possible."
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Kinship – "George's Story"
The idea that we all contribute to what happens to a child should be looked at with fresh eyes. It is more true today than ever before.
The responsibility for a child's future goes beyond the interactions that we have with specific children. The babies and toddlers of today will grow into members of our shared society. We will all benefit from their contributions, just as we will feel the pain of their stumbles. When one child enters school and then fails to graduate, it may not affect most of us. But an epidemic of dropping out does.
At ReadyStart we know that the responsibility to help children become prepared for their futures begins when they are very, very young. For George, the support that his family received from the community proved invaluable.
At first, riding around town on his mom's bus sounded fun! But it got old pretty fast for 2 year old George. George's mom had moved her family to North Texas so that her children could enroll in good schools and she could have peace of mind that they were living in a safe community. While George's older siblings spent their days at school, George's mom couldn't afford to enroll him in a day care program while she worked. So, George spent most of his day riding on the bus.
All of this began to change when a school counselor mentioned ReadyStart to George's mother and opportunities began to open up for the mom to build a better life for herself and her children. After the referral to ReadyStart, George began to receive help in the form of speech therapy for a language delay he was experiencing. ReadyStart staff then referred the mom to an affordable, high-quality child care program where George would be learning along with his peers.
George was also referred to a local dentist for emergency dental care and his mom received help in applying for health insurance for her children through the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Mom worked closely with a ReadyStart case manager who referred her for help to try to put the pieces of her life back together after experiencing domestic violence. She also took the giant step of enrolling in mental health counseling for herself and her son.
While still working as a bus driver, George's mom enrolled in a job training program to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. When George graduated from ReadyStart and then from child care to kindergarten, his mom reported that he was adjusting to the new challenges of school.
Through quality early care, the love of a mother, and a community that provides resources that families need, George was prepared for school. Because of this preparation, he now has a much better chance of receiving his diploma while a proud mother looks on. It truly takes a village, the work of not only a determined mother but also a determined community, to ensure that children get the chance to grow into healthy, productive adults. We hope that you can join us as we work together to raise the children of this village.
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Promise – "Tyler's Story"
At ReadyStart, we make it a point to look for the promise in every child that we help. We know that with encouragement, the early difficulties that children sometimes encounter can be overcome. Oftentimes, we are left amazed as the young ones we help not only meet but often exceed our expectations, proving that a little extra care is all they really needed.
Seeing Tyler Ewing today, it seems impossible to imagine a time when his ability to play music stood in question. But his mother Sue remembers all too well the worry she felt when, as a toddler, Tyler's developmental future looked less certain.
It was Tyler's babysitter who initially pointed out some concerns. She noticed that he seemed to be delayed in his motor skills and also that he held his left arm at a funny angle. “We were first time parents and only saw our child as the ‘perfect child',” Sue confesses, a sentiment that new parents can recognize.
But Sue and her husband Lee heeded the babysitter's worry and sought the advice of a doctor. A neurologist pinpointed the cause of Tyler's delays as mild cerebral palsy.
As musicians, Sue and Lee had dreamed of Tyler forging his own musical path. The diagnosis of cerebral palsy left them understandably fearful for his motor development. Not knowing what to expect, they turned to ReadyStart (then known as South Collin County Infant Program).
The ReadyStart therapists set right to work. They knew that Tyler had places to go and they needed to help him get there. They motivated him to use his muscles and increase his movement using a fun atmosphere. They helped him to learn some skills he had missed and starting working on his left hand motor skills. For Sue and Lee, they offered flexibility with regard to location and scheduling. But they also gave the Ewings advice, clear answers to questions and most importantly, reassurance.
Tyler progressed quickly and after moving through therapy and attending some early childhood classes with the Plano Independent School District, he reached typical levels of dexterity for his age. Today, after earning a degree in classical music composition, he makes his living composing and performing on cello and piano. Sue, with the proud gush of a mother, describes him as a “wonderful musician.”
She is thankful that ReadyStart could be there to help her son get off to a great start and is sure that the help Tyler had from the agency played an important part in his success. Now we can all enjoy Tyler's music, the blossoming of promise that just needed a little extra care.
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Hope – "Katelyn's Story"
For most new parents, pregnancy means gearing up for the arrival of one new baby. For John and Lily Devlin, it meant preparing for the arrival of FOUR new babies. After finding out that Lily was expecting quadruplets, the Devlins waited, feeling both excited and nervous, to welcome their new daughters into the world. When the day finally arrived, both parents were relieved that the delivery had gone well, but knew that they still had some waiting to do. The girls were born early, as is the case with most multiple births, and would have to spend some time in the hospital before they could be ushered home. It was in the critical first few days after birth that the Devlins' excitement was clouded by the troubles one of their new babies, Katelyn, had to endure.
Katelyn contracted a MRSA infection, a strain of staph that is resistant to most antibiotics. MRSA infections are dangerous and often fatal. In little Katelyn's case, it made its way into her bloodstream, causing cerebral abscesses which then led to a stroke. Lily and John agonized as they watched their baby struggle for her life.
Any parent can imagine their pain and then their subsequent relief when it became clear that Katelyn would pull through. They felt grateful that all four of their babies would be able to go home with them, after all. But even though Katelyn was alive, the infection had taken a toll. The doctors told her family that she would be severely and profoundly delayed.
The Devlins entered their new life with quads, not knowing what to expect but ready to fight for Katelyn's chance to walk, talk, and play with her sisters. Having worked as an occupational therapist herself, Lily understood the importance of early intervention and knew that the sooner that Katelyn began services, the better chance her daughter had of hitting important developmental milestones without a significant delay. She called ReadyStart and at just six months old, Katelyn began early intervention services. Along with her parents, the ReadyStart therapists held fast to the hope that Katelyn could overcome her difficulties. This hope compelled them, as they began working with her, to constantly push Katelyn toward new developmental goals, resulting in big steps for one very tenacious little girl.
Over time Katelyn has received occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy, and the strides she has made have been remarkable. Her medical doctors are amazed by her progress, given her original diagnosis. For her parents, the Katelyn that is a part of their lives is the bright, happy two year old that they always hoped she would be - walking, talking, and creating plenty of messes with her sisters!
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