This story was originally published in COA’s 2018 Annual Report. Read the whole report here.
When she was born, now 20-month-old Dalisa was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia, a disability of the hip joint which makes walking extremely difficult. As an infant Dalisa wore a full-body harness for 24 hours per day. Dalisa joined COA’s Riverwest Early Education Center (EEC) at nine weeks old. Once Dalisa started in the classroom, she improved slightly and began wearing a half-body harness only during nap time.
However, once Dalisa turned seven months her EEC teacher noticed that despite her improvements, she still wasn’t crawling. Dalisa’s mother began to worry. She wasn’t sure if the EEC teachers could work with Dalisa to make sure she felt accepted in the classroom: “I didn’t want her to be treated any differently.”
Dalisa’s struggles with crawling prompted her teacher to request a referral so she could receive physical therapy to treat her Hip Dysplasia. Dalisa began working with a physical therapist from St. Mary’s-St. Francis once a week in the EEC. Dalisa’s teacher also collaborated with her therapist to meet her needs. For example, the therapist showed the teacher how Dalisa could use a toy walker to get around comfortably in the classroom.
“She became much more independent. She is more trusting of others. Her speech has even improved.”
Weekly physical therapy and her teacher’s strong support boosted Dalisa’s confidence. “Her morale just skyrocketed,” her mother says. Dalisa’s mother also noted the EEC’s strong approach to helping her daughter: “She got the same treatment as any child.” she says.
After nearly eight months of physical therapy, Dalisa began walking. “She didn’t even want to be helped anymore,” her mother notes. “She became much more independent. She is more trusting of others. Her speech has even improved.” Since starting therapy, Dalisa has also become more confident. Her regular physician has even expressed surprise at her progress. Being embraced in a welcoming classroom with a supportive teacher and therapist is what allowed Dalisa to flourish.
Dalisa continues to improve in the classroom every day. Her hips are not yet fully healed, but she has made significant improvements. “She does what any other child will do,” her mother says. “Now she even tries to run.”