Kim & Abigail (1995)
Disclaimer: The following was transcribed from an article in the Capper Foundation Archives published by The Topeka Capital-Journal. The choice of words used at the time this was written may not reflect current Capper Foundation inclusive language and views.
From Delays to Inspiration, Kimberly Zips Through Life (1995)
by Sara Squires
Kimberly has more independence than ever before. She is one of a set of identical twins along with her sister, Abigail, born 10 weeks prematurely.
The girls had a medical condition called twin to twin transfusion which only takes place with identical twins. It was thought that Kimberly might have developmental delays because of health problems experienced during pregnancy and at the time of delivery.
At 16 months of age, it was increasingly clear Kimberly did have some developmental delays. She was not crawling, could not sit up, had no speech and had difficulty with fine motor skills.
Kimberly was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and visual impairment. Our pediatrician recommended The Capper Foundation and we soon were enrolled in the Capper Infant/Toddler program.
As an infant, Kimberly received in-home visits, in addition to the services she received onsite at Capper. She received occupational and physical therapy as well as speech and cognitive stimulation.
As a family, we participated in a support group with other parents of children with disabilities, and the staff educated us about Kimberly’s disability.
All of these services have been provided to Kimberly the entire time she has been attending Capper programs. She and her twin, Abigail, also attend the integrated preschool program so she has the additional benefit of interacting with her classmates without disabilities.
Assistive technology has been part of Kimberly’s program since she was an infant. One of the first things she had was a picture board a speech-language pathologist made for her. Kimberly began to identify objects and sign and speak the names that matched common items such as cookies, drink, bear and telephone.
Her next piece of assistive technology was more advanced. It was a speaking device called an IntroTalker, which made a big difference in cutting down her frustration level because she couldn’t tell us what she needed or wanted before that. She progressed from that to saying words on her own.
When she began to crawl on all fours, I remember everyone cried as they gathered in the Infant/Toddler Center to watch her. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Capper also provided us with everything we needed for seating systems.
If I came up with any idea that I wanted to try for Kimberly, the staff never discouraged me, always listened and gave me hope and encouragement. They helped me choose toys that would work for her and she soon learned the favorite toddler word, “mine!”
As Kimberly grew, assistive technology aids made a world of difference in her level of independence.
One item is the battery-operated motorcycle – it was the first time Kimberly got to have independent mobility. She used to cruise all over on that, then Capper loaned us a wheelchair so we could assess if she had the strength to use one. We could not afford to invest in a wheelchair only to find out later that it wouldn’t work. That was so important for us as parents to have that kind of support. Now she zips everywhere in her new powered wheelchair.
With the help of Capper physical therapists, Kimberly also learned to walk using a walker. When she walked the first time, her sister Abigail stood in the doorway and hollered, “Kimmy, you’re walking!” That was another wet day. Kimberly’s abilities on the computer and what that will open up for her future are mind boggling. All of the efforts Capper staff used to get that right adapted keyboard and programs that are usable for her are just another example of assistive technology at its best.
Kimberly has graduated from the Capper preschool and both she and Abigail will attend their neighborhood school kindergarten class in the fall of 1995. Without the efforts of the team of professionals that worked with her over the past few years, I’m not sure how successful this transition would have been.
With all of their recommendations, adaptations, and personal knowledge of Kimberly’s needs, we have been able to tailor a program that should meet her needs and guarantee continued success.
As far as the future, Capper will provide training for Kimberly’s new teachers and paraprofessionals as needed. I will take training workshops at Capper so that I can help her with her computer. She will also receive outpatient physical and occupational therapies and speech as needed. I will rely on Capper staff to help us with future equipment adaptations, modifications, etc. that we may need.
Kimberly’s provider team at Capper is, and always has been, 100% invested in her future success. They have “embraced” the vision that our family has for her and combined all of their professional knowledge and expertise to help her obtain those goals and visions.
Although there are no “hard” statistics on the results of early intervention, I feel strongly that Kimberly has progressed to the point where she is today because of a total support system, combining family and professional aspects to achieve one end result.
When Kimberly graduates from college, I’m going to send the staff at Capper a copy of the diploma, for they were equal partners in obtaining it!