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This fundraiser ended on 06/16/12

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I'm asking for your help in order to help Emily get the therapy necessary to reach her full potential.

The summer of 2008 seems like a dream now. The chaos, the anger, frustrations and desperation for a normal life for all of us is like a dream now. I remember crying outside, in the middle of the night, praying that Arrowsmith could do exactly what it said it could do - I was desperate and Emily's behaviours were getting worse...out of control and I couldn't help her. No amount of therapies, or harsh consequences worked for her. When I first read about EAS, it was the miracle I was looking for. I wanted a program that could help Emily in all her problem areas mostly her language,and social and lack of boundaries - not just a band aid solution that made us feel like we were trying to help her - but therapy that would address all of her problem areas.

I put her in preschool for 2 years to get her the social skills necessary to start school. She was never a problem but her teacher would often comment that Emily was in "Emily Land" (this was the first of many teachers describing Emily like this). It was only after she started kindergarten that we could see just how wrong we were.

In grade one, Emily was assessed by an occupational therapist. Em's IS Teacher reported that Emily presents as sensitive to light and having difficulty with spatial relations. Her teacher reported that Emily presents with decreased focus in the class. She plays by her self on the playground and wanders. It was indicated that Emily likes to do things her own way. She couldn't play with kids her own age, and frequently exhibits disjointed conversation. The teacher stated that Emily had issues with directionality, following directions, copying from the board, math, speech/language, mental processing, organization, anxiety and tactile defensiveness. She indicated that Emily shakes her arms when she is upset. Emily had good fine and gross motor skills except for printing. She cannot read back her printing due to limited spacing between words. (Here's a positive) Emily enjoys reading and drawing. She can sit and draw or read for long periods.(yeah:))

The OT observed that Emily was able to run but avoided interacting and touching or being touched by other children. (Emily even avoided contact with us. We as parents had to make a point of touching her constantly just to have some kind of contact with her. Even as we hugged her, we had to instruct her to squeeze us). She repeatedly shook her arms when moving. In class, it was observed that during free time, Emily sat at her desk. She did not play with other children. Emily was observed blinking frequently and at points she turned her head to the side when looking at objects. She became teary on occasion when frustrated and stated " I need help all the time".

The OT stated that Emily presented as internally distracted in that she tends to daydream or think internally using her imagination rather than perform the work at hand. She presented with some difficulty in regards to discriminating between right and left. He observed Emily printing a letter to her mom but the letters did not form words. Some letter reversals were observed. Emily performed two sub-test of the Beery Test of Visual Motor Integration. She scored in the low range on the Visual Motor sub test and above average on the Visual Perceptual. His recommendations were that Emily continue speech-language therapy. Unfortunately, at some point in grade one, the school decided that Emily wouldn't get the help in the classroom or otherwise because she presented well and at this point didn't need the extra help. She did continue to see the IS Teacher as necessary.

Todd was out to sea and in the middle of the night, Emily called 911. Well, at 2 or 3 in the morning, I had a visit from the police. Emily couldn't explain herself and I was beside myself. Another night, I went and checked in on Emily and she was up, with a pair of scissors, cutting her pj's off of herself as well as she gave herself a very extensive haircut. I was so scared/shocked that I started screeming at her trying to get her to tell me what was she thinking. Emily just looked at me with confusion in her eyes. I was scared that night. I talked to the councillor at school and she said that because of Emily's inability to explain her thoughts, Emily wouldn't be able to tell me why she was acting this way. My mom caught Emily giving her much younger sister pills from the medicine cabinet. I caught Emily trying to "cook" on the stove, Plus emily constantly went into my bathroom and took my stuff - making concoctions with my creams and nail polish. Even after she was consequenced, she just didn't get it. I felt like I was constantly on alert with her. Constantly running behind her, cleaning up the messes she did. Constantly trying different measures of punishment of wich none worked. Todd and I constantly fought over her behaviours. It seemed that we were always treading in deep water - waiting for the next wave to take us under. Our house was in constant chaos. I remember Todd stating how many times do I have to tell her before she gets it - 50 times? Unfortunately, she never did get it. I tried every kind of consequence but nothing worked. I resorted to hitting her just to get a reaction so that she would associate the hurt with her behaviour - Emily would just look at me confused and this broke my heart. It had become apparent that Emily needed 24 hour supervision. I felt that it was easier to work than be at home. There was so much anger, frustration and hoplessness in our house. I dreaded being at home. I didn't see much of a future for Emily. She was in her own world and no amount of help that we gave her worked. I felt so hopeless.

September 2008, Emily had a Psycho-Educational Assessment. She was being assessed due to possible (ASD). It was determined that Emily did not fit the typical ASD profile however her overall intellectual abilities were at the bottom end of the average range for her age. Emily's performance was overall Low Average. Emily was administered an additional measure of intellectual ability to double check test scores (Stanford Binet 5). She tested in the Low Average range.It was indicated that she will likely have difficulty keeping up with the pace of the classroom, even when she understands the tasks well. Her ability to focus auditory attention for a brief time was at the bottom end of the low average range.

Emily's social emotional development and behaviour at home indicate that she is exhibiting a clinicall significant (warranting professional monitoring) degree of acting out behaviours at home. She fell within the AT RISK range for the scale. Emily had problems with unusual thought/behaviours, withdrawl, and hyperactivity. Ratings also indicate that Emily has problems with anger control, disruptive/intrusive behaviours, and emotional control that fell within the AT RISK range, and problems with executive functions, negative emotionality and resiliencey that fall within the clinically significant range. Emily's internalizing behaviours were rated within the AT RISK range, including a clinically significant degree of behaviours suggesting anxiety and depression. Also of concern were social difficulties, negative emotionality, low resiliency, and poor emotion self control. Concerning adaptive behaviours, Emily was rated as displaying weaknesses in adaptability, social skills, leadership skills, funtional communication, and study skills.

We lived day by day with her. When this information was told to me, over the phone, I basically had already heard about EAS and had told the psycologist that it didn't matter what she was telling me because Emily was going to attend EAS when it opened up. I was told that EAS was not a good idea because Emily needed to be socialized and to do this, she needed to stay in the school system with her peers. I was shocked. Given Emily's track record, no amount of socialization was working she just continued to develop more anxiety based tics. My thoughts were that if you have a sick child, and Emily was sick in so many areas, then you go to the best hospitals/or doctors, to get that child well. EAS was our last hope for Emily to just thrive and possibly be normal.

When Jason, the new EAS principle talked with me, he asked what 2 things would you like to see happen for Emily? I couldn't care less about academics...I said I wanted to see Emily have boundaries and social skills. Plain and simple. When Emily was tested at EAS, she was so severe that she needed the whole 4 years of the program. Well, Emily started her first year at EAS. We were anxious because well, we were paying lots of money not covered on our extended medical insurance and what if there weren't any results. We were putting our faith in the EAS program and money that we didn't have. I just knew that she would get better - I didn't have much of a choice - she had to get better. Within 5 weeks, Emily changed dramatically!! I had to drive and pick Em up so me and the daycare kids (plus Eryn her little sister), drove over 3 hours a day. One day while tuning out on Emily on our way home, it hit me like a brick wall - Emily was engaging in actual conversation with me. I was blown away. I never really had a real conversation with her - chit chat but no real conversation. I started paying attention to her at home, and she was engaging in adult converstion that made sence as well as she pointed out situations in movies (Emily couldn't participate in games etc so movies was our only family time). I asked Todd "Am I crazy or is Emily changing?" He agreed that she was changing. It took 3 weeks for Emily to start understanding skip counting but there it was - she was able to understand the concept and was doing double digit counting when there was a time that she couldn't even identify a double digit. Emily had no concept of time. Everyday was the same for her. She couldn't understand past present, before after or what comes next. Well, she certainly understands all of it now and will correct me when I get my days wrong. Around 6 months into the program, Emily was playing simple board games like snakes and ladders. She was interrested in card games. She wanted to bake or cook and do crafts. All the things a mother wants to do with their daughter - I now had!! We could go to friends houses for a night out and we didn't have to worry about Emily's behaviours. My friend even mentioned that Emily seemed more confortable in her own skin. I had a few people tell me this. We enjoyed watching Emily and her sibling play with other kids on the playground - Emily no longer ran around playing parallel to peers - she was initiating play with others. In less than a year we saw such a dramatic change in Emily and our home is now more balanced and in harmony - no fighting, frustrations or anger. Emily was developing social skills AND she had boundaries (yeah)!!!

Emily no longer needed to be watched all the time and she no longer exhibits ticking behaviours. I don't consider her to be at risk anymore and we have absolutely no problems with her anymore - we are healed as a family and Emily will go on to be all that she can be and I can honestly say that we won't have to take care of her - she can take care of us now:).

I remember one evening at a birthday dinner, Emily was sitting beside me, and she touched my back. You can't imagine how I felt. I was blown away. I was almost in tears. Since then, she has tenderly touched my cheek and now runs to me for a big bear hug before I go to work. She is quite amazing. Emily has blosomed into a confident well spoken child and we are very proud of her as she is of her own accomplishments.

Emily has one more year to go at Arrowsmith before she can go back to mainstream school. If she doesn't do the full 4 year program, she will continue to struggle her whole life. Todd and I have done this on our own and have paid out over $75,000.00 just working hard. Because of the nature of my job, as a nurse aid, I can only work evenings and so I don't have much time with my family (not complaining) but this has been hard on us. Working all the time has made old injuries worse and I am in pain most of the time so this is my last resort to ask for help so that my girl can continue to get better and I can stop stressing over money and concentrate on getting well myself.

God.Bless you:)

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