In 1920 our founder, Senator Arthur Capper, said “Do more for the children” after seeing many children with disabilities unable to share in the joy like other boys and girls, who would run to a decorated vehicle with toys and other gifts for all. Ninety-five years later, these words continue to drive the vision and mission of his living legacy - Easterseals Capper Foundation. Every day we see more children learning the skills they need to feed themselves, to walk, to talk and giving them access to independence and reaching their full potential. Let me share a story with you about a little boy named Dane.
Dane Bartley’s journey began in Seattle Washington with his parents. Like any loving family they only wanted the best for their little boy. By the age of three, it was apparent Dane was not meeting the typical milestones most children his age do.He was primarily non-verbal, experiencing hyper-activity and unable to express his wants and needs. By Dane’s third birthday his parents were facing some financial hardship and struggling to get him the care he needed. In October of 2013, Dane moved to Kansas to live with his grandmother. She too struggled to get him the special care he needed. That is when his Aunt Veronica “Aunt V” stepped in and offered to have Dane come live with her. Veronica Bartley, an Analyst for the United States Army, knew she could financially provide him with the resources needed. She quickly obtained legal guardianship and began the process of getting the answers everyone so desperately wanted.
In June of 2014, Dane was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Global Development Delay and just one month later began receiving services at Easterseals Capper Foundation ( ESCF). When Dane began therapy at ESCF he didn’t know how to play with toys, he didn’t make eye contact with others, couldn’t request his favorite foods, cartoons, or games, and didn’t know how to socialize with kids his own age. He had very low expressive and receptive language skills.
Capper Speech Therapist Jenny Stous said, “You could tell there was so much going on in his head, you could literally see the wheels turning, he just had no way to get it out.” As anyone would be, Dane was easily frustrated. He couldn’t tell anyone that he wanted to be done working, or that he needed a break. When he did try to vocalize his wants and needs, he was hard to understand. When kids are unable to communicate, negative behaviors often take over. Dane would flee the therapy table, attempt to leave the therapy room, and would get visibly upset.
Dane has made tremendous progress over the last 15 months. He can retell events from his day, like who he played with at school, what he had to eat, or his favorite part of the day. He transitions in and out of the therapy room, sits independently at the table,
and often requests toys to reward his work. He especially loves the marble run, which he can help build and put marbles in. He also loves working for Bugs and Buttons on the iPad.
“You really need those progress reports, to show you that life is not this frozen little ball anymore, we can expand, we can do this” said Dane’s Aunt Veronica.
Currently, Dane is working on using all of his age appropriate speech sounds and following multiple step directions with a variety of linguistic concepts like size, shape, color, and quantity.
Jenny Stous says, “Veronica has worked so hard to carry over the therapy goals into the home, which has greatly increased Dane’s chances for success. She is always present in the therapy room and regularly participates in therapeutic activities. She does a great job of sharing gains he has made at home as well as things he is still having trouble with. She is a true advocate for Dane. Her passion for helping this child just radiates off of her. Veronica has provided Dane with all of the opportunities for a “typical” childhood such as soccer and basketball teams. She pushes him to work harder and for her, he does.”
If you ask Aunt V she has really learned from Dane, “It is a whole new world, and for me it has been the toughest thing I’ve ever dealt with, but also the best and most rewarding. Dane has opened up my eyes and taught me there is more than one way to learn. Anything you put in front of him, I have a feeling he is going to tackle it head on.”
Dane is a child on the Autism Spectrum who attends a mainstreamed preschool without additional support. This speaks volumes for Dane and Veronica. He is a true example of how successful a child can be when all parties work together. We are truly thankful to have friends and donors like you, to continue to help Dane and many other children and their families know the joy of independence. Many more children and their families need help, hope, answers and services.
I ask that you please consider making a generous contribution, so that we can continue living out the mission set in motion on Christmas Day, 1920. You will feel good about giving in the spirit of this special season.
President & CEO