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For kids with special needs, early intervention is the key. Kids can’t wait. You can help make a difference by supporting the Kids Can’t Wait Radiothon! Join 570 News as we broadcast live from KidsAbilty and donate by phone or on-line! You can also stop by Conestoga Mall, and learn how your generosity will help local kids reach their full potential.
How you can donate to the Radiothon on Friday May 3rd:
- Phoning 519-725-5437 to make a donation,
- Visiting us at Conestoga Mall to donate at one of our donation tables,
- Going online and visiting kidsability.ca/support to make a donation today,
- Setting up your own personal fundraising page, or
- Spreading the word about the Radiothon to friends and family.
The Kids Can’t Wait Campaign helps fund direct therapy services, strategic initiatives and specialized programs for children at KidsAbility™. Last year, our organization helped 7,975 children and youth with special needs. However, we still have 1,335 on a waiting list. For some of our children, having to wait may mean the difference between being able to walk or having to use a wheelchair, being able to talk or being nonverbal – the list goes on and on. By donating to the Kids Can’t Wait Campaign, you’re giving a child the chance for a brighter future.
Learn more about KidsAbility and how the Kids Can’t Wait Campaign helps thousands of children and youth with special needs by watching the Kids Can’t Wait video.
Kitchener-Waterloo Ambassador (2018-2019)
From even before he was born, Alexander has faced many challenges. At 22 weeks into Shannon’s pregnancy, an ultrasound revealed that Alexander had extra fluid in the ventricles of his brain. At the time, the doctor told Shannon that it could potentially affect his development, but Alexander was born healthy and “very cuddly” as his mother, Shannon, describes.
When he was a baby, Shannon noticed that Alexander wouldn’t turn his head to the left. After three months of weekly physiotherapy appointments, he overcame this challenge. Alexander continued to meet every milestone even mastering first sounds such as “Ma-ma-ma” and “Da-da-da.” At 13
months of age, he experienced his first of many severe ear infections.
“We were playing the one day and as I looked at him, it was like a light switch went off,” recalls Shannon. “Something was unique and different about him that day. He had been saying ‘Ma-ma-ma’ and ‘Da-da-da’ and suddenly, it was gibberish. That turned into a couple of weeks and then his
speaking just stopped.”
At 18 months of age, Alexander was referred to KidsAbility. Initially assessed by an occupational and speech therapist at KidsAbility, it was determined that Alexander’s challenges could be best helped through speech therapy and augmentative communication services.
Alexander has suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech—a complicated neurological motor planning disorder. This impacts Alexander’s ability to speak clearly and causes him to have difficulty processing words and sentences. He knows what he wants to say, but when his brain tries to tell the muscles in his mouth how to make the right sounds to form the words, the message becomes scrambled and the sounds don’t always come out the way he wants.
Every new word for Alexander has been achieved only through a tremendous amount of hard work on his part in therapy and by practicing at home with his family. For this chatty, social and tender-hearted four-year-old boy, his twice-weekly appointments with his team at KidsAbility are giving him the skills, the support and the tools to communicate with confidence in a way that makes sense for him forming words with his mouth and with the assistance of a tablet.
One of the most significant milestones for Alexander has been learning how to speak using three to four word sentences. “On his own, I heard him say for the first time ‘I love you Mommy.’ I was in tears for the rest of the day!” says Shannon.
For many of us, learning how to speak comes naturally. For Alexander and the over 3,500 children like him at KidsAbility, communicating—whether it is verbally or through the use of a communication device—is a skill that is achieved only after many hours of therapy, practice and the support of a dedicated team and KidsAbility.
“Alexander is proud of being able to do something that he wasn’t able to do before. He can now participate in board games with his sister and he’s proud of being able to be part of the family and can share what’s going on,” says Shannon.
Today, Alexander is relying on his words more than his tablet, which has been a big shift for him. He’s gaining more confidence with independent communication which will be especially helpful for when he starts junior kindergarten this fall.
“KidsAbility has brought back my child’s spirit and who he is and who he can be. Communicating is everything. It has opened up his little world so much,” says Shannon.
Cambridge Ambassador (2018-2019)
A natural star, Leigha has always loved to make a grand entrance! After a rather speedy delivery at birth followed by some time in the NICU to treat jaundice, Leigha’s fast entrance into the world could only be described by her family as “exciting.”
When Leigha turned one, her parents noticed that she was showing signs of delays in her physical abilities. She struggled to roll over and when she crawled Leigha would clench one of her fists and drag her opposite knee behind her, putting the majority of her weight on one leg. An assessment by her pediatrician revealed that Leigha had mild stable cerebral palsy and she was referred to KidsAbility. That was the first time that Tara and Michael learned of the organization that would become, in their words, “like a family.”
Leigha came in for her assessment and KidsAbility’s team of therapists immediately rallied around Leigha and her family. Together, they set up goals to help Leigha work towards overcoming her challenges. Occupational therapists helped her with the tension in her hand that was causing her little fists to clench. They also taught Leigha how to grasp small objects with her index finger and thumb—a skill that she used to zip up her coat all on her own—much to her family’s surprise and delight!
A year into Leigha’s journey, her team noticed that her speech still wasn’t coming along, and after early observations and participating in a group program at KidsAbility, she was identified as having a motor control disorder in speech.
“She has grown leaps and bounds in her time at KidsAbility despite the mild challenges she faces with her physical disability, delays and speech disorder,” says Leigha’s mom, Tara.
Looking at Leigha, you might not know that she has had so many challenges early on in life and thanks to the early intervention she received, she has had the support that she has needed to overcome each challenge. Leigha continues to benefit from occupational and speech therapies at KidsAbility’s Cambridge Hub and is regularly checked on by her physiotherapist to ensure that she is still progressing.
“We want to share how important and valuable early intervention can be in a child’s development, especially for those who face seemingly ‘invisible challenges,’” says Tara.
Now at three years of age, Leigha is outgoing and does not shy away from the spotlight. She is always happy to perform for others—be it dance, drama or singing. She likes her sign language classes, puzzles and keeping up with her older siblings. Leigha also takes great pride in telling others that her ‘job’ is the “Superhero Race”— known as the Rotary Classic Superhero Run organized by the Rotary Clubs in Cambridge. Her family regularly participates and fundraises for this event so that other families can in turn benefit from the resources and services that continue to support Leigha on her journey.
“It’s been a huge relief as parents having the team of experts at KidsAbility to walk us through everything instead of us having to figure it out on our own,” says Michael. “This is the place to go.”
“KidsAbility is an amazing and supportive network of compassionate individuals. They are warm, welcoming and sensitive to the entire family’s needs from, from the very first introductions to each and every session we attend. It is never a struggle to get Leigha ready to go to therapy—she gets excited to go ‘play’ and always leaves with more confidence and a smile. As a parent, I always feel supported, respected and informed. We feel blessed to have found KidsAbility!” says Tara.
If you ask your typical five year old to name their favourite colour, their favourite song or their best friend, you get a typical answer. Something like, “Blue,” “Wheels On the Bus,” and “Mom.”
But if you play this game with Walter, you don’t get a typical answer. Yes, Walter has a favourite colour and a favourite song. But the name of his best friend will surprise you. Because Walter doesn’t have just one best friend, but two.
You see, Walter has Leigh’s Syndrome, a severe neurological disorder that becomes apparent in the first year of life. It causes muscles to be weak and sore and cells are unable to produce enough energy to run a body. Essentially it would be like trying to run an entire household on a single battery. It’s characterized by progressive loss of mental and movement abilities, and can be fatal if left undiagnosed.
Fortunately, Walter received his diagnosis early on, and began coming to KidsAbility multiple times a month for physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. The difference these therapies made in Walter’s life is literally life changing.
When Walter came through our doors for the first time, he couldn’t crawl. He couldn’t sit up. He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t gain weight. He was off the charts in the wrong direction for all of his developmental milestones. But today, thanks to the intervention of our therapists and with your support Walter walks—and never stops talking!
Thanks to Amy and Emma, Walter is now walking and talking. Walter is a living testament to the difference your financial support makes in the lives of the children that we serve here at KidsAbility.
Early intervention plays a vital role in helping children reach the goals that are important to them. That’s why, through a talented team of therapists, teachers, support staff and volunteers, we help almost 8,000 children and youth, from birth to school exit, benefit from therapy and support services. Your donation today helps us serve even more children with the therapy they need to reach their potential.
Just ask Walter’s mom.