Five daughters receive multiple therapies at The Children’s Institute
“The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh is like our home away from home,” laughs Lisa Ringler. “We spend three days each week here, and every time the kids are so excited to come. I sometimes can’t stop them from running down the hallway to greet their therapists with hugs and homemade gifts.” The Ringler family knows how to fill a minivan when it’s time to head to The Children’s Institute for therapy. Mom Lisa is upfront in the driver’s seat. And the six car seats in the back two rows are for daughters Monica (8), Ashley (7), Rachel (6), Chelsea (5), Bailey (3), and son Wyatt (1).
The five girls all receive outpatient therapy services at The Children’s Institute in Squirrel Hill. Baby Wyatt has therapies at home through the organization’s early intervention services provider, teli. Together, the six Ringler children participate in about 15 hours of treatment delivered by The Children’s Institute’s expert team of therapists each week. “I never would have guessed 18 months ago that this was the road we would be traveling,” Lisa says. “But my husband James and I are grateful our family is on the right path.”
Lisa and James’s three older daughters began missing developmental milestones as babies. Two of the girls were born prematurely and required neonatal intensive care, but they were all growing on a similar timeline. The parents were reassured by their pediatrician, loved ones, and friends that the children would catch up to their peers.
“But the delays persisted,” Lisa explains. “As the girls grew older it became obvious that they were behind in many areas which impacted their ability to play, learn, and interact with the world around them. We went to see a developmental pediatrician who conducted thorough evaluations, first for the older girls and then for our younger children. He recommended The Children’s Institute to address our family’s complex needs.” While each of the children has a unique personality and specific treatment goals, the underlying cause for their physical, occupational, behavioral, and speech delays is genetic, a rare microduplication in a tiny piece of one chromosome. They all have varying degrees of hypermobility, which causes issues with gross motor skills such as coordination and balance, as well as fine motor skills due to low muscle tone in their hands. Four of the girls have been diagnosed with autism. Other diagnoses include dysgraphia (difficulty turning thoughts into written language) and dyslexia (impairing a person’s reading ability). One of the daughters also receives medication management through Behavioral Health Services at The Children’s Institute. For each child, the impact of any one diagnosis would be minor. Together, they present a level of complexity that requires the knowledge, expertise, and collaborative treatment approach of The Children’s Institute team. “The therapists at The Children’s Institute are absolutely amazing,” describes Lisa. “They are so well trained and so caring. We are connected with multiple physical, occupational, and speech therapists who work with the girls and with one another to help them meet their goals. They also invest in me by listening to my concerns, explaining their ideas, and answering my questions. I have learned so much from them.” Lisa, who homeschools the girls, reinforces therapy techniques as both parent and teacher. She uses interventions implemented by The Children’s Institute to adapt and customize the homeschool curriculum, ensuring each of her daughters is learning the best way for them. Less than a year after beginning services, Monica and Ashley met all their current physical therapy goals. Rachel, Chelsea, and Bailey continue to receive physical therapy services, and the five have weekly occupational and speech therapies. The girls now love to run, skip, and jump. They are building strength and endurance, developing fine motor skills, and making strides with feeding and other sensory issues. “Because of The Children’s Institute, our daughters are each making progress in their own unique way,” Lisa concludes. “I expect we will be coming to The Children’s Institute for many years as we uncover issues and identify solutions together. I feel confident for their futures, and my kids feel like every visit is the best play date ever.”
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