When Steven Mickevich first met Easter Seals Speech Therapist Sarah Vu a few years ago, he was a shy teenager who responded to her with one-word answers.
Sarah needed to find a way to reach beyond Steven’s shyness and improve his ability to communicate. She knew he loves Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings and other fantasy stories, so she tapped into that and began helping him write a medieval adventure story of his own.
Steven is bedbound after surgery related to his disability, and has limited head movement and use of his hands. Because he’s unable to use a computer, he’s dictating his story to Sarah. In the process, she’s helping him learn grammar and build his vocabulary.
Because Sarah is a stickler for accuracy, sometimes they finish only four or five sentences in one of her hour-long weekly visits. But Steven, now 20, is determined to finish the story.
As they neared the end of the project, Sarah found an illustrator for the cover and planned to get the story copied and bound so Steven could share it with his family and friends.
“He’s an amazing young man who has worked long and hard on his story,” she said.
Sarah is part of a team of Easter Seals specialists working with Steven, including Physical Therapist Rhiannon Flass and Occupational Therapist Kelly Fitzgerald.
Their visits are helping Steven become more trusting, open and talkative, as he shares news about what he’s been doing during the past week.
His therapists even threw Steven a birthday party, complete with balloons and Pokémon favors. (Steven likes Pokémon.) At the party, they helped him work on some skills, including sitting up in a chair, which will help him live more independently in the future.
The three therapists reinforce what each is doing with Steven. And at the end of their weekly visits, they also talk with his family about their work with him.
“They’re really nice, cheery, happy people,” said Steven’s mother, Heather Mickevich. “They brighten his day. And they give him the kind of respect that Steven really likes.”
“Easter Seals services are excellent,” Heather added. “He really benefits from them. For someone who’s shy to open up like that is a wonderful thing.”