While most children utter their first word when they’re around a year old, Christopher’s first words came when he was eleven: horse, trot fast. Not your typical first words, but his mother, Felicia, was ecstatic to hear them!
Christopher’s severely autistic. He’s thirteen now, and he has been dealing with his diagnosis since he was a toddler.
Christopher’s symptoms became apparent before his third birthday, and Felicia, immediately began searching for help for him. Fortunately, she found Babies Can’t Wait, a Georgia Department of Health program for infants up to three years old with special needs. Thus began their journey on the road that is so familiar to thousands of families: the constant search for help for a child.
For families like Christopher’s, life assumes a new rhythm with the diagnosis: therapy several times each week, frequent and multiple doctors’ appointments.
While therapy may look simple to a typically developing person, it is hard work for children. Kids with disabilities often spend hours each week making their bodies develop new skills, skills that do not come naturally to them. For many children, therapy is temporary. Within a few months, or perhaps a couple of years, the problem is resolved and the child is back on track developmentally. For children like Christopher, therapy becomes part of life and continues for many years, on into adulthood.
Thankfully, resources and services for young special needs kids can be quite good. However, just like many other parents in this same situation, Felicia found out that as her son grew older, those resources dwindle dramatically. She found herself as a single mom dealing with two boys, facing the challenges of a special needs child and footing devastating medical expenses on her own.
After eight years of clinical therapy, Christopher’s doctor decided to take a new approach, and prescribed hippotherapy for this budding teenager. Felicia found McKenna Farms and Christopher began equine therapy.
And he began to talk.
What a milestone for a family whose child has never spoken a word! Their world changed in an instant. Now, after two years of hippotherapy, Christopher has graduated to therapeutic riding.
Now, when Christopher wants to go out, he can say “shoes.” If he needs a shower, he says “wash-wash.” When it’s time to go the bathroom, he can tell his mom “flush toilet.”
After two successful years of hippotherapy, Christopher has graduated to therapeutic riding, which will help him maintain and improve flexibility, balance, and muscle strength. In order to maintain continuous progress, consistent weekly therapy is vital. Felicia is able to pay for one therapeutic riding session a month. Jacob’s Fund underwrites the other three sessions each month to ensure uninterrupted therapy for Christopher, to maximize his potential.
Christopher’s speech triumph and the amazing and sometimes unexpected accomplishments of kids like him are what drive Jacob’s Fund‘s efforts. Your support makes it possible. We simply could not do this without you. Thank you. And please click on the link below for our video showing what your support means to disabled children.
Pneumonia is a serious threat to the children we support. This treatable infectious disease is one of the leading causes of death in China: it is the number one cause in rural areas; in urban areas, fourth. Data suggests that there are approximately 2.5 million documented cases of pneumonia in China annually. Of those cases, 125,000 (5%) people die of pneumonia-related illness.
Most disturbing to us is this: childhood pneumonia accounts for an estimated 17% of all child deaths in China. The Red Thread Promise takes pneumonia seriously, especially when it involves infants and toddlers who have other medical conditions that may compromise their immune system further and do not have anyone to advocate for them.
In January 2013, we introduced you to Baby WZX. He came to Swallows Nest (our partner foster home in China) unable to sit or stand due to club feet. After extensive evaluation, doctors decided to treat him with a non-surgical method that involves serial manipulation and casting, taping, physical therapy, splinting, and continuous passive motion.
One year later, WZX has made great progress in his club foot regimen. But this isn't his biggest hurdle. He was recently diagnosed with pneumonia and hospitalized. Thankfully, he is on the mend and back at Swallows Nest, on the road to recovery. Your donations helped provide his care at the hospital and we are so thankful for your support of this critical intervention.
Unfortunately, the little girl in the photo next to him is now in the hospital for the same reason: pneumonia. She has been there for over three weeks. With your contributions to this project, we can help her and others as well.
As always, thank you for everything you are able to give.
Data on occurances of pneumonia in China is from US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
Teenagers are amazing... Words we don't hear strung together often enough! This may be contrary to many opinions, but The Red Thread team stands by it. Here's why.
Jaden is one of those kids whose birthday lands right after the Christmas and New Years hustle and bustle. Family and friends are partied out, the festivities have come to an end, and people are trying to get back into the swing of work and school. Post-holiday blues prevail and the idea of pulling together a celebration seems more like work than fun.
It was no surprise that only three people gathered around Jaden to sing Happy Birthday and enjoy French silk pie on his 13th birhtday. But what happened after the subdued celebration surprised everyone.
As the family was preparing to send a donation to The Red Thread for the food drive, Jaden placed his combined birthday and Christmas gift—$100—in the donation cup. His mom and dad asked him if he was sure this is what he wanted to do.
His response was simple and to-the-point: "I'm not poor. I don't need this."
What an example this young man has set for us all! Thank you to Jaden and all who have given to this project. Your contributions help feed the kids at St. Vincent's.