Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Isaiah in Motion


Isaiah is very much a climber

Isaiah is seven, a camera shy, agile, and very much loved answer to a prayer. “Every year on my birthday I prayed for a child,” his mother, Candace, says.

And on her birthday, two little boys came to live with her and her husband, a former Marine.  Isaiah was two when he and his brother were placed in their care. Their parents, relatives, were drug addicted, and Isaiah’s babyhood had been spent in a baby seat placed in front of the television. Neglected, they were removed by children’s services and placed in foster care.

Isaiah was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and was developmentally far behind. Candace and her husband sought help for Isaiah soon after he arrived home. He began receiving therapy.  In 2013 he came to McKenna Farms. Now he’s thriving with the combination of therapy and love and care at home.

“He surprises us a lot. Yesterday he sat down with a book and began reading “A is for apple,” said Candace. “I was overwhelmed.  We are so thankful for all the good things that have happened to him”

Since Isaiah and his brother became part of their family, it has grown considerable. They now have seven boys, ages nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, and twenty-one months. All have been officially adopted except the baby, and they are in the process of adopting him now.

Candace is outnumbered!

“Isaiah is a completely different child from when we got him,” Candace tells us. “We’ve had him since he was two; he’s seven now. In the early years, he banged his head all the time. He was only able to say ‘Ehhhhhhh.’ He had fluid on his ears for the first year because he’d had no medical treatment for repeated ear infections. Now he has tubes in his ears.

We love seeing a smile on his face!

 With love and therapy, Isaiah is discovering new things he can do all the time. His favorite song is The Gummi Bear Song. He hums in the car and asks his mom to guess what song he’s humming. He loves the scent of Candace’s hair, rubbing it on his face. He’s always been lovable. He loves to play outside and to ride the horses at McKenna Farms.  Constantly in motion, he runs, climbs, and plays with his brothers. After all, he’s a seven-year-old boy. That’s what Jacob’s Fund wants for Isaiah and the other children we provide hippotherapy riderships for: to allow them to be what they can be, in the fullest way possible.


Thank you for visiting our blog. We welcome your questions and comments about Jacob’s Fund and hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. Isaiah's story is one of hope and love, and we hope you enjoy it. You can email us at jacobbeachyfund.@gmail.com, phone us at 513-423-0108, or write or mail a check to us at:


Jacob’s Fund
1630 Tipperary Drive
Middletown, Oh 45042-3875


Monday, October 30, 2017

Our Mail



Princess Elyse and Tigger Jacob, Halloween 2005

Check out our Halloween photo of one-year-old Jacob and his sister,Elyse!

Mail - we all get it. Most of us look froward to it. At Jacob's Fund, our mail, both snail and email, often contains powerful stories like this:

 “My son has Down syndrome. He goes to McKenna Farms and with their help he is accomplishing things we were told he never would. A lot of that is due to our Speech Language Therapist introducing us to hippotherapy . . . WOW IT CHANGED OUR LIVES!! He’s like a new kid; I never would have believed it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. Unfortunately, we are having difficulty paying for it. He presently rides once a week; he should be riding twice a week but we can’t do it.” – Parent of a four year old boy

With a Jacob’s Fund ridership, this little boy will be in hippotherapy twice a week and his mom will continue to thrill at his life-changing progress. 

This week we’re visiting McKenna Farms in Dallas, Georgia, where we will meet some of the children and families Jacob’s Fund supports through hippotherapy riderships.  We’ll have more stories to share in the next few days.  We hope you’ll follow us, because these kids’ stories are thrilling, emotional, and often astounding.  Stay tuned.


Monday, July 31, 2017

A Life Changer

Charlie

                If you have a family and your children fall into the typically developing range, you may have two reactions when hearing about a family who has a child with an impairment: 1) I’m glad it isn’t us (followed by a guilty feeling, but the relief persists) and 2) they must be special people to handle that.
                Of course “not being us” is probably a temporary life situation. One birth, one accident, one disease, and many of us, in the two or three generations of our family we are likely to know in our lifetime, will have a close relative with an impairment.
                According to the National Center for Education Statistics, In 2013–14, the number of children and youth ages 3–21 receiving special education services was 6.5 million, or about 13 percent of all public school students. Among students receiving special education services, 35 percent had specific learning disabilities. (https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp)

Charlie on the Jacob Beachy Sensory Trail

                As for the families with children with special needs being “special” themselves – well, let’s just say that that line makes these families either howl with laughter at its ludicrousness, or beat their heads against a wall in frustration, or both. The parents of children with special needs that I know were madly in love, planned to have a perfect life, the modern-day equivalent of a vine-covered cottage, and perfect children who would be at advanced stages of development almost from the time the last bit of umbilical cord tissue fell off their navel. You know, just like everyone else.
                Still, when I talk with some of Jacob’s Fund’s families, I’m exhausted just hearing about their lives and schedules. How do they do it?
Take Charlie’s family. His parents have six children, aged eighteen to five. His mom, Wanda, works from home as a medical transcriptionist, and his father works for a trucking company. Wanda home schools all the children.  Charlie’s older brother, Jacob, volunteered at McKenna Farms, as does sister Ashleigh, who is out temporarily with a broken clavicle.
Charlie is nine, and since he was two years old his parents have been working, as do most parents of children with impairments, to find the right help and corrective therapies for him. It was apparent to them that Charlie had significant sensory challenges. He also suffers from severe anxiety, and two years ago Charlie was diagnosed with Asperger’s autism.


Therapeutic riding - changing Charlie's life

His sensory challenges often kept him from completing daily living activities, and at times also kept his family from completing their daily living activities.
Finding help for your child requires a big investment in time: researching agencies and services, keeping up with required paperwork, and maintaining records. Transporting a child to doctor and therapy appointments takes more time.
All that time and effort is worth it when you see your child making progress, experiencing the joy of independence and lessening anxiety.
Charlie’s ridership from Jacob’s Fund is doing just that. “Charlie’s riding at McKenna Farms has been a life changer for Charlie, and me, for our whole family,” Wanda says.
Now Charlie is able to complete his school lesson with less struggle and fewer meltdowns.  He handles disappointments and frustration better. He recognizes how disruptive his behaviors are and has begun apologizing for them. He’s better able to express his feelings.  He is visibly happier, cheerful, and his overall confidence and self-esteem have improved tremendously.
“You see Charlie as he is today, but he had meltdowns that lasted for hours. I was in tears every day. The benefits are truly amazing!!!”
Through the tears, the disruption, the struggle, Charlie is still Charlie.  “He has an amazing heart,” his mom tells me, “and the way he sees life is wonderful.  It’s wonderful for me to be able to see life his way. He’s very trusting; that can be a little scary.”
“My words cannot express our appreciation for Jacob’s Fund and what this opportunity means for Charlie and our whole family. He comes to McKenna Farms and rides, and when he goes home he’s an entirely different person.”

Thank you for visiting Jacob’s Fund’s blog. If you’d like to know more about hippotherapy and therapeutic riding, or if you’d like to know more about Jacob’s Fund, please contact us at jacobbeachyfund@gmail.com, phone us at 513-423-0108, or write or mail a check to help kids with developmental impairments trough equine therapy to us at:

Jacob’s Fund
1630 Tipperary Drive
Middletown, Ohio 45042-3875



Saturday, June 24, 2017

Opening up the World

Jacob H. and Mom, Misty

We met with Jacob H. and his mom, Misty, at McKenna Farms on a perfect spring morning. Jacob comes early in the day so that his mom can make it to work on time.  As we sat in Maria’s Place, the gazebo that honors the memory of a young woman who also required therapies at McKenna Farms, I recalled his mom’s application letter for a Jacob’s Fund ridership, which began “I am writing to request a scholarship to help out with my son, Jacob, for services not covered by my insurance, at McKenna Farms . . . Jacob is six years old and is nonverbal  . . . (he) is having a great deal of trouble at school because of his disability of being unable to communicate. . . Jacob’s doctor feels the horse therapy will improve his gait.”
Though he’s shy and doesn’t talk, I know from the photos Misty has shared with me that he’s a fun-loving little boy who enjoys playing.

Officer Jacob H., at your service          

Since Jacob’s Fund began, we’ve learned that way too many conditions exist that can interfere with a child’s development. Jacob H. suffers from Klinefelter syndrome, a condition we’d never heard of, caused by extra X chromosomes, a spontaneous and random chromosome disorder. Because of this, he has wobbly arms and legs. In addition, he’s recently been diagnosed with autism.
                This sweet six-year-old lives in a confined world, where he can’t talk (he’s been in speech therapy since he was two), has difficulty walking, and is unable to engage with other children, his teachers, and the world around him.
                On a recent visit to the cranial-facial clinic, doctors found a larger-than-normal gap at the back of his throat that is preventing Jacob H. from forming some sounds. They plan to correct that with surgery in November. In the meantime he’s working with Melissa, his speech therapist, to help make those sounds once surgery is completed.
                Misty is more than pleased with her son’s progress and his speech therapist: “Melissa is great! I love her!”
                Mother and son share a room that she rents in the home of a friend. Misty works part-time at Publix, a grocery store.

Jacob H.'s sweet, shy smile - so endearing

                Of course Jacob’s Fund wanted to help this kindergartner. And Jacob is excited as he begins riding Gizmo, his therapy horse.  Still, when a volunteer brought one of the miniature horses over for him to see while his mom and I talked, he was a bit hesitant. He and I approached the little horse while the volunteer talked soothingly to both the horse and the boy.  Jacob was tentative about touching the horse’s face, but softly stroked its back and ribs.
                His shy smile showed his pleasure, and it appeared again and widened when we asked if he’d seen Nigel, the baby goat.  
We’re rooting for both Jacob H. and his mom. She’s a single mom with very limited resources putting her all into giving her little son the best care and therapy so that he can have the fullest life possible.
                We’re glad we can help.

                Thank you for visiting our blog. We welcome your questions and comments about Jacob’s Fun and hippotherapy and therapeutic riding. We hope that Jacob H.’s story has inspired you to help us help children with developmental impairments through equine therapy. You can email us at jacobbeachyfund.@gmail.com, phone us at 513-423-0108, or write or mail a check to us at:

Jacob’s Fund
1630 Tipperary Drive

Middletown, Oh 45042-3875

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Goat, Goat!





The Barn at McKenna Farms 

You can’t say we weren’t warned. The day before our visit to McKenna Farms, We saw the Facebook post: Nigel, a baby goat, had arrived at the farm. 

            “Cute,” we thought, “very cute.” We had no idea.

            We pulled into the parking lot between school dismissal and dinner time, a very popular time slot. The parking lot was nearly full, and as we rounded the corner of the farmhouse, waiting parents and siblings filled the porches in the warm spring weather, though a number of families had drifted off toward the barn to see the new baby goat.

            The last time we were here the new waiting room was nearing completion, piled with furniture. Now we take a look inside, where more parents wait for their children. We’re drawn to the striking painting on the wall, a farm, painted by the grandmother whose granddaughter comes to the farm for therapy.

            Then, approaching from the barn, we saw some familiar faces: Melissa and her twins, Cameron and Landon, two sweet boys Jacob’s Fund had sponsored. The boys are taller now, and they have a baby sister who is hardly a baby any longer. Melissa and I hugged, and each of the twins met my gaze and greeted me. 

            The buzz around us echoed as everyone who passed by coming from the barn said to those going toward the barn: “Have you seen Nigel? You’ve got to see Nigel.”  

            Of course we had to see Nigel, too.

Charlie's little sister holding Nigel    
      
         We found him in a horse stall all his own. Jackson, Jessie’s older son, perched in the stall window, overseeing Nigel’s activities and visitors. Jackson has great plans for Nigel; he can’t wait to build a Nigel house. He held Nigel up for me to pet, and I was hooked on Nigel at that point: his sweet little face, his patience with all the humans popping around him like soap bubbles, his eager playfulness.

            His space had been furnished with all the things a goat needed: hay to chew on as he learned to eat big-goat food (it also served as an edible sleeping mat), an incline propped on a hay bale so he had something to climb on, water, and toys.  He was surrounded by kids and adults petting him and watching him hop, climb, and gently butt his head against the forest of legs in the stall. While we were there, McKenna Farms’ vet stopped by to give advice on when six-week-old Nigel could stop taking milk from a baby bottle every eight hours (a volunteer has been working the night shift to keep Nigel well-fed) and begin solid food. We were every bit as enchanted with this little goat as the children were. 

            Over the next day and a half, we were to learn that Nigel, a whiskered furball not much bigger than a large cat, was already unwittingly starting to earn his keep. 


 Jacob H. and his mom

 Charlie, behind his mom and little sister

            Our appointments the next day were with Jacob H. and his mom, and Charlie and his mom. By the time we caught up with Jacob H. and Misty, they’d already visited Nigel, and Jacob broke into a smile when Nigel’s name was mentioned. Charlie and his sister, Sarah, too, had visited Nigel before his therapeutic riding session.  After talking with the family, Sarah and I found ourselves back at Nigel’s stall, where she ducked inside to get some hands-on goat time.  I made sure the stall door stayed latched as the parade of visitors continued. 

            That afternoon Jonah and Amy stopped by. Jonah was clearly enamored. “Goat, goat,” he said, pointing in the direction of the barn. 

            One-on-one therapy is very important to a child with developmental impairments, so much so that social development is often overlooked, or regarded as incidental, a byproduct of being in the world with others. But social interactions are important to our emotional and mental health, whether we are adults or children.  Kids’ social groups can help model good social behaviors, and allow children to see how what they do or say affects others.  They learn how to cooperate for a better outcome.

            And here is Nigel with friends in a cooperative play activity that . . . well, take a look (that’s Jonah on the left):


 Taking Nigel for a walk
  Need I say more?

Watch this space for more about Jacob H.  and Charlie, coming soon.
            We welcome your questions and comments about Jacob’s Fund and hippotherapy and therapeutic riding.
            We’re pleased you’ve visited our blog and we hope you will be inspired to contribute to the scholarships Jacob’s Fund provides for children with developmental impairments. You can reach us at:

1630 Tipperary Drive
Middletown, Ohio 45042-3875
513.423.0108
Jacobbeachfund@gmail.com