Quality of life--it means different things to different people.
To a child with disabilities and their family caring for them, those basic comforts others take for granted, are often put on the back burner. But, dance, music, art--even massage are now easy choices for children with disabilities thanks to a relatively new therapy group.
In our Cover Story, we meet tangible alternatives--a place where children and their parents can learn to ease the stress of their disability.
A baby’s smile-it's the one thing that can melt a father's heart over and over. But, while little Alexis Davis appears perfectly normal, she's been fighting a battle within-- her entire life--all five months.
“She really had a hard time gaining weight and keeping food down. The doctor did some chromosome test…” said Eric Davis, Alexis’ father.
And that's when the diagnosis came--a rare chromosome disorder with a lot of unknowns. But, one thing Eric Davis does know is that his daughter's life will be full of challenges.
“The main thing is mental retardation from mild to severe--100% of the children have that,” said Eric.
Severe reflux and digestion problems--other symptoms.
It's a dark path illuminated by Susan McKinley.
She’s is the founder of Tangible Alternatives--a light at the end of a long dark tunnel for many families caring for children with disabilities.
“Tangible Alternatives is a dream! It's the idea that we wanted quality of life for kids and families, the good stuff that regular people take for granted,” said Susan.
Susan started Tangible Alternatives a couple of years ago.
With a background in special education primarily working with children with autism and studies in massage therapy, she's filling a gap not covered in the Huntington area.
“We wanted dance class for children with special needs who can’t do other dance classes, music and arts,” said Susan.
“One of the big things with doctors, gotta get this now...if we don't get things early, developmentally, she'll be delayed,” said Eric.
“This is a good age to work with kids because she's little and interested in everything! We're working to keep her flexible and keep her reaching out and interacting with environment. Many times, kids with disabilities withdraw,” said Susan.
“Her organization helps parents with training and relaxation. That’s a big plus,” said Eric.
“We want to do a lot with stress because stressful having child with disability. We do massage therapy for parents because kids are only as calm as their parents,” said Susan.
That's all just the tip of the iceberg. Susan works with a staff of ten volunteers. She’ll be showcasing some of her therapies this week at the first HOPE Intervention Autism Camp. We've profiled HOPE Intervention in the past--it's a non-profit agency providing a long list of resources to families living with autism—primarily in southern Ohio.
Their holding their first camp tomorrow and Friday. Susan will be there leading a number of workshops for children and their parents.
To learn more about Tangible Alternatives, check out their website at www.tangiblealternatives.net