Glenna, Jacob’s Fund Director, and Sonya, TRTP VP, drove to a quiet Cincinnati suburb a few weeks ago to meet Kyle, the newest recipient of a Jacob’s Fund ridership (aka a hippotherapy scholarship). Kyle has been diagnosed with three challenging conditions: Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), epilepsy and hypotonia. At this point he is non-verbal and not toilet trained. His life—and that of his family—is a daily challenge.
We were deeply impressed as Kelli (Kyle's mother) shared her tireless work seeking out specialists, treatments and any form of help that she and her husband can provide for Kyle. A grant from the Cincinnati Inquirer provided a special changing table and stroller for him. Another grant secured a supply of Kyle's special diapers; due to his age and size, he falls into a gap between readily available toddler and adult diapers. He is also on a Ketogenic diet, drinking special formula to help his body produce ketones which help to suppress the epilepsy, thus decreasing the volume of seizure medications he has to take.
One of the family's biggest challenges is communication with their 7-year-old son. Kyle—who is currently non-verbal—is being evaluated to identify a form of communication that will be successful for both him and his parents. The family has explored ASL (American Sign Language), which requires fine motor skills that he hasn't yet mastered, and PECS (picture exchange communication) with little success. Not being able to understand one another is a source of frustration not only for Kyle, but also his parents, sister, teachers and anyone else he comes in contact with on a daily basis.
This is one of the main reasons The Red Thread Promise has offered Kyle a hippotherapy ridership. We have observed such profound progress with non-verbal children receiving therapy on the back of a horse! Hippotherapy has been documented time and time again to be an aid to opening lines of communication previously undiscovered. We are all extremely hopeful that this doctor-prescribed therapy will help Kyle develop his own form of communication, opening many doors into this special child's world.
This July, Kyle will begin hippotherapy at nearby Hilltop Equestrian Center. He and his family have already completed the pre-screening process and are anxious to begin his treatment in Hilltop's summer session. During their tour of the facility, Kyle impressed everyone with his acceptance of the horses, showing little fear or apprehension. We hope that these characteristics will provide Kyle's smooth transition from the ground to horseback where therapy begins.
After Kyle has been in therapy for a few consecutive weeks, the Jacob's Fund team will visit Hilltop to observe Kyle's riding, speak with his therapists and provide an update. Thank you so much for helping us put this boy in the saddle!
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