Giving Tuesday and Making An Impact

Giving Tuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world…24-hours of giving!

On this day, please consider supporting Family Hope Foundation and our Therapy Scholarship Program. What better gift can be given than Ability? Your donation this Giving Tuesday, in any amount, will be a priceless gift to families in need.

Here is a story one child we were able to help…

Like a little baby bird—skinny and cute—Aidan Wood said hello to the world. The only thing large on his tiny frame was his head, but since big brother had a good-sized noggin, no one was the wiser. It wasn’t until much later that the Wood’s discovered that Aidan’s head circumference at birth was in the hundredth percentile…for three year olds.

The baby years progressed with joyous bliss. Aidan slept great and rarely cried. He didn’t need to be held constantly, in fact, he preferred his swing. This too was an early indicator of things to come. Nearing nine months of age, the babyhood simplicity began to fade.

Delayed milestones weren’t near the forefront of the Wood’s minds until bronchitis became Aidan’s frequent, unwanted friend. An allergist surmised that he was likely aspirating on his formula, causing the respiratory distress. At the same time, she asked if his head size and disjunctive gaze had ever been discussed. Those questions led to CT scans, swallow studies, feeding therapy, thickened liquids, patching eyes, and then two eye surgeries. The Wood’s now knew they were in the elite club of being special needs parents.

Early-on services and Ken-O-Sha schooling helped Aidan move forward in his learning and development. While this season of schooling had it’s huge victories, it also came with its harsh challenges. Aidan’s behavior became more reactive and aggressive. His ability to control his bowel movements (Encopresis) caused bad episodes of soiling in his diapers. On top of that, he was still non-verbal, so he couldn’t communicate his needs.

Around age five, the Woods decided to try a different facility for Aidan’s PT and speech therapy. This is when they met their miracle worker René Manker at BRAINS. She used some of her Feldenkreis training with him in physical therapy, and his coordination and balance improved; and so did his toileting skills. However, when René left, they were worried. What would they do without her?

The following years brought more tests and evaluations. The diagnoses added up—Dysphagia and Reflux, malformation of cortical development, Strabismus (which led to the eye surgeries), Hypotonia/Hypotonic Cerebral Palsy (low or diminished muscle tone), Dysarthria (delayed or poor motor planning in the speech and articulation process), chronic constipation and Encopresis, Mood Regulation Disorder, and then at age seven came a new diagnosis—Sensory Processing Disorder, which was considered the culprit for Aidan’s up and down behaviors. Thankfully with help of occupational therapy, Aidan had more tools and coping skills.

By age ten, Aidan’s therapy services were being limited by insurance. The Woods were no longer seeing increasing results with therapies. Aidan’s behavior was growing more volatile at school and at home. Remembering how much progress they saw with René, Aidan’s mother, Amy, decided to try Google. And yes, Google proved helpful. Amy discovered Senses In Motion, a company in which René owned! Unfortunately, she noted that insurance wasn’t accepted there. She knew they couldn’t afford to pay out of pocket.

At this time, Amy had been volunteering for Family Hope Foundation for a couple of years at the Celebration Cinema sensory show times. She hadn’t applied for a scholarship before, but figured it was time to try. The Woods were thrilled when Aidan was awarded funds for ABM (Anat Baniel Method of Neuromovement) therapy with René. This form of therapy has been pivotal in helping Aidan with Dyspraxia. Aidan’s brain struggles to organize the information needed for his body to carry out even simple tasks. With his brain struggling to appropriate information, he finds himself oftentimes frustrated, triggering emotionally reactive behavior. But with ABM therapy, he is making strides in both conceptual and sensory processing and behavioral responses.

After one full year of ABM, Aidan has fewer meltdowns, aggressive behaviors are on the decline, his processing speed is growing, and he is able to learn easier. But most importantly, his silly personality is returning.

Through all the trials, hardships, and diagnoses, Aidan has pressed on. It hasn’t been easy for him or his family, but they have all chosen to see the glass full and not empty. They count their blessings, not misfortunes. If the Woods could be summed up in a word it would be—optimistic. It is because of this that Aidan is blooming, and his hilarious nature is shining once more.

 

Aidan is one of the amazing kids we have been able to support. Join with us in giving the Gift of Ability to more children.

http://bit.ly/GivingTuesdayFHF

 

Our Contact Information

Family Hope Foundation

7086 8th Avenue
Jenison, MI, 49428

616-729-8833

www.familyhopefoundation.org

Superhero Levi: A Book About Celebrating Differences and Disabilities

Superhero Levi teaches children about special needs and disabilities, emphasizing that all children are gifted and special no matter what their differences might be.

I wrote this children’s book based on my nephew, Levi Slenk. Superhero Levi is his story, told through his voice. Though Levi is actually non-verbal, his actions show his personality and through his mannerisms and noises, I hear his words. And so, I wrote them down, unfolding his world.

Now, I can share his story with you.

 

Hello, step closer, don’t be shy.
I’ll introduce myself; I’m Levi.
There is a secret you might not know.
I’m actually a superhero.

I climb mountains Mom calls the stairs.
It’s hard work getting way up there.
I reach the top feeling quite proud.
Mom claps her hands, cheering real loud.

Clearing my plate is no big feat.
I eat like a sturdy athlete.
But give me beans, I’ll put up a fight.
Every hero has a kryptonite.


Whenever I travel to various places,
I wear special shoes and ankle braces.
They help me stay strong and tall.
Because sometimes even heroes fall.

My hair cuts a wave like a surfing pro.
Adoring fans want to snap my photo.
I’m an expert with poses to strike.
My posts receive plenty of Likes.

 I grow my powers through exploration.
It helps me use my imagination.
Lickety-split, this bowl is a hat.
Only a hero could do that.

 
I brighten the house with toilet paper,
And destroy a book like a bold crusader.
From the fridge, I make water pour out.
Mom arrives with an impressed shout.

Bars or boards cannot hold me back.
I open my bed with a Judo attack.
Dad tries to fix it in a hustle.
But nothing restrains me and my muscles.

 
When it’s school time, I wait for the bus.
A lift scoops me up without any fuss.
It’s a short drive with pals at my side.
We’d rather not stop; come on let’s ride!

I trek the halls with my sweet set of wheels.
My school friends follow, hot on my heels.
Our teacher directs us as we go.
She helps us to learn; I love her so.

Superheroes have archenemies.
Mine is called Physical Therapy.
I escape it through devious schemes.
Feet dragging, tears, and pretending daydreams.

To read the rest of the story visit: Superhero Levi

Dive Into A Summer Book

Click on the title below to see a preview on amazon.com

Ramble and Roar: A 1920’s Novel 

Superhero Levi

Superhero Levi: A Children’s Book About Disabilities and Differences

It is important for all children to be taught at an early age about the beauty of differences. When we look around at our highly diverse world, we see many differences: differences in appearance, differences in language, differences in physical movement, differences in customs. These differences are wonderful. However, when children are not taught how to receive and celebrate differences, they might respond in a shy or negative manner when they encounter someone unlike them. I find this to be true when children encounter another child or adult with disabilities. Instead of engaging in a conversation, they might simply stare or avoid eye contact. By teaching our children about special needs and disabilities, we promote a healthy and beautiful interpretation of the word “different” for all people are wonderfully made and gifted.

Superhero Levi is a story based on my nephew, Levi Slenk, who has MECP2 duplication syndrome. In a first-person narrative, the reader joins Levi in his struggles and victories that are different from those another child his age might face. Though he has to work hard, he never gives up. No matter what life may throw, he knows he can take it because he’s a superhero.

This book teaches children about special needs and disabilities through a viewpoint that they can comprehend: a superhero that embarks on a life adventure, encountering obstacles and triumphs. This story can be used in a home or classroom to teach children about disabilities and to encourage all children to press on no matter what difficulties they might face in school or in life.

Superhero Levi is now officially available for purchase on amazon.com as a paperback and Kindle book.

On Release Weekend (July 20-22) 10% of each book sale will be given to Heartwood School, in Lansing, MI. Levi attends this school. Heartwood School badly needs a new playground that will better accommodate their students with special needs.

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