Parker is like every other kid. He is active and curious and loves playing baseball, but this was not always the case. Parker has cerebral palsy, which affects one side of his body including his arm and leg. As a preschooler, he walked up on his toes on one side and did not like trying anything new. He was often uncooperative with his therapists and resisted many of their strategies to introduce new activities, but all of this began to change after Parker was enrolled in Physical Therapy at Easterseals outpatient clinic in Reading.
Parker responded well to receiving therapy in a clinic setting. His therapist focused on using play-based activities to get him engaged and soon Parker was enjoying his therapy instead of resisting it. Parker attended Physical Therapy weekly and regularly saw the orthopedist in our clinic, who said Parker improved so much after a year of therapy that he no longer needed to wear a brace on his ankle. He was no longer walking up on his toes on one side and he could now walk up and down stairs without depending on the railing and was jumping forward, over objects and down from a height using both feet instead of relying mainly on his stronger leg.
Because Parker made such great progress in his walking and motor skills, he was discharged from Physical Therapy and enrolled in Occupational Therapy (OT) to work on his fine motor, self-care and sensory skills, including expanding the number of different foods he was willing to try. Initially Parker refused to participate in new activities in OT and would yell, cry or scratch himself to avoid activities. Using the holistic approach for which Easterseals is known, Parker’s therapist taught his mother several activities she could introduce at home to help Parker adapt and become more receptive to therapy. It worked and soon Parker was fully engaged in his therapy.
With hard work and dedication, Parker has achieved all of his OT goals and is thriving. He has learned to dress himself and take care of his own hygiene and he has increased his independence and gained more confidence in trying new things. He is a member of a youth league baseball team and this fall he will be starting kindergarten on time with his peers. His mother states that is not something she thought he would be able to do and credits Easterseals for making it happen. While she is sure there will be challenges ahead, she and Parker are both approaching the school year with excitement and anticipation.
Parker is one example of how Easterseals fulfills its mission to increase independence, maximize opportunities, minimize barriers and enhance quality of life for individuals with disabilities and their families.