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Christian's Client Story

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Giving Up Was Never An Option!

Easter Seals RI Outpatient Client Story

Christian Chabot

In August 2009, Catherine welcomed a beautiful baby boy into the world. She was thrilled to begin a new chapter in her life – motherhood. Her son Christian was born premature, but he had succeeded in reaching each milestone including making noises, head control and even rolling over with the help of Easter Seals RI Early Intervention services.

Unfortunately, five days before Christmas, four-month-old Christian fell asleep on the couch with his caretaker, and suffered from a co-sleeping incident that left him clinging to life. Catherine found her son suffocated on the couch, gasping for air.

“His entire body felt lifeless,” said Catherine.

Christian was rushed to a local children’s hospital where he was put on life support. Once he was stabilized the doctors told Catherine that her son was most likely going to die, and if he was kept alive that he would probably never walk, talk, or know that she was his mother.

Catherine didn’t know what to do, but she knew Christian was her son and she didn’t want to give up on him. She had asked the doctors to do whatever they had to do to save her baby boy.

Miraculously, Christian started breathing on his own two weeks later, but there was still a tough road ahead. He suffered from a great deal of brain damage that put him in a vegetative state. The doctors told Catherine that his quality of life wasn’t going to be great, but she knew her son was a fighter and she was willing to do anything to help him.

A month later, Catherine was able to bring her son home. However, before leaving the hospital, doctors had suggested she seek services for Christian and recommended Easter Seals RI. She was delighted to hear a familiar name, as Christian had already been receiving services at Easter Seals from Registered Nurse and Clinical Supervisor Tara McGarty.

Once home, Tara visited the family again for an evaluation and suggested increasing the number of physical and occupational therapy visits Christian was previously receiving.

The next few months were very hard for Catherine. She went through waves of emotions, but Easter Seals was there for her. “Easter Seals kept coming to my house,” said Catherine. “They never gave up on us. They were more than Christian’s therapists. They were persistent, kind, and kept encouraging me that everything would be OK.”

As time passed by, Catherine slowly started seeing her son progress. “When we first returned home, we had to make him comfortable with being held again,” said Catherine. “This wasn’t easy because he had a breathing machine, but we accomplished it and moved to a new goal.”

During each session Christian’s physical therapist worked on stretching him due to his high muscle tone, as well as exercises to help strengthen and improve his head control. Over time Christian was introduced to speech therapy which initially assisted him eating and oral motor exercises, and then taught him how to communicate with his Mom using special noises. He also started participating in music and aquatic therapies.

“He was responding to his therapies,” said Catherine. “Due to aquatic therapy he had movement in his arms and legs by age two, and with assistance he could use an iPad by age three.”

Eventually, Christian graduated from Early Intervention and started receiving physical therapy services through the Easter Seals RI Outpatient program. Through both programs Easter Seals staff worked with Catherine to make sure she ordered the best equipment for Christian including an adaptive chair and stroller, a car seat, bath seat, a piece to help him stand, and a specialized bed to ensure his safety and comfort during the night.

Today, five-year-old Christian is showing great success! He can walk 20 steps in his walker, use an iPad with minimal assistance, and has relatively good hearing. Even though he has many obstacles to overcome, such as cortical vision impairment, quadriplegic cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and a G-tube for food intake he has a great attitude towards life. He loves being outside, swimming, and listening to classical music.

Catherine is a success story too. She now attends seminars to advocate and raise awareness about the dangers of co-sleeping, and how it can be prevented.

“Christian is the bravest little man I know,” said Catherine. “I don’t know where we would be without Easter Seals. They gave me hope when I had none!”

For more information about Easter Seals RI Outpatient program, please click here.

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