When you first meet Caleb, you hardly get a chance to see the first grader … he’s a racing blur of speed. But once you catch up to him, it’s easy to see this little boy has a heart of gold. Caleb comes flying into SOAR365 (or PARK365) twice a week for speech and occupational therapy visits.
Caleb’s mother, Valary, initially sought out SOAR365 because of its strong reputation when Caleb needed early intervention. When the family stepped back from therapy sessions due to COVID-19, there was no doubt they’d return when they could. And starting in June 2021, Caleb returned to his beloved therapists.
When Caleb, who has Down syndrome, started speech therapy, he was working on utterances and imitating speech patterns. Today, he puts together full sentences, allowing him to communicate his needs and wants. “I am always so amazed by his progress,” says Valary. “Now, he is telling me what he wants, if he’s hungry or hurt … and even telling me that he doesn’t want my help with things like getting dressed or putting on his shoes,” she adds, laughing.
“When your child has special needs, you can hit a wall when they want to express something and, as the parent, you can’t understand,” explains Valary. “It is a powerful and painful moment when you can’t understand your child.” But thanks to speech and occupational therapy at SOAR365, Caleb’s making remarkable progress in speaking and doing everyday things like dressing himself. “Now we don’t run into those walls … in fact, we argue now since he stubbornly insists on doing everything himself,” she says with a smile.
SOAR365 therapists and parents agree that one of the best aspects of therapy is how involved the parents can be. “I love being at his therapy appointments because when we’re there, he just shines,” says Valary. “But I know the more important aspect of me being there is to interact with Stephanie and Erin, his speech and occupational therapists. They keep me abreast of what we’re doing and why so that I can reinforce the lessons at home.”
To Caleb, however, the therapy appointments seem like fun and games, with lots of moving around. But there’s a lot of hard work going on, and it’s showing. “Stephanie and Erin are amazing at what they do. I don’t know how to teach him how to develop speech, but Stephanie does. I don’t know how to teach him to develop the dexterity in his fingers, but Erin does,” says Valary.
“Therapy helped lift the fog for us,” explains Valary. When a child is diagnosed with a disability, things can seem terrifying and isolating. “No parent is given a diagnosis and a handbook,” says Valary. “But once you know the support is out there — like SOAR365 — it becomes a little less scary.” By providing resources and programming for families of children with disabilities, SOAR365 helps pave the way to success as well as build community.
Often, one of the hardest parts of receiving a diagnosis is not knowing what to do. “SOAR365 is the answer to ‘Now what?’ and ‘What do I do?’” says Valary. “I’ve realized I’m not alone, and there are people out there who care and want to support me … I’ve seen many older kids like Caleb, and I get so excited knowing he, too, will get there!”
Caleb is zooming toward a bright future, for sure. In addition to English, he is learning sign language (ASL) and Spanish. “I don’t believe in limitations,” says Valary. “His journey may be different, but he will get there. There is no ceiling for Caleb.” And the pediatric therapy team at SOAR365 couldn’t agree more.
About Pediatric Therapy at SOAR365
SOAR365 Pediatric Therapy offers two different types of programming: early intervention (from birth through 36 months) in the child’s familiar surroundings and outpatient therapy (from birth through school age) in our SOAR365 facilities. Our highly qualified team includes speech therapists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and early childhood educators — all working together to help each child soar! We know no two children are alike, and we tailor our services to each family’s needs and goals. We are proud to have helped 737 children and families in 2021, providing more than 8,300 hours of therapy.
- In 2021, 86% of our children showed significant improvement within 6 months of starting therapy.
- Over the past 6 years, 23% of our children completed services and will not need special education.
- 100% of caregivers tell us they are better prepared and more confident in their ability to help their children.