“His picture captured my heart and I couldn’t stop thinking of him.”
That’s how Lisa describes seeing a photo of her adopted son, Ryder, for the first time.
“I fell in love with his picture before I even knew anything about him.”
Ryder is five years old and joined their family with a lot of medical issues and developmental and physical disabilities, which was something Lisa and her husband did not have any prior experience with.
“It was scary, but something was not letting me let go,” she recalled.
Lisa learned about Pine Tree Society’s Early Learning Center and started working with them right away. “They know what they’re doing. It’s an amazing place.”
Ryder was four years old at the time and was non-verbal, unable to crawl or sit up on his own and had to be fed by a tube.
“In just five months at the Early Learning Center, he’s gone from making no eye contact to being able to choose between two toys and hit a sign to say he wants more,” said Lisa. “He went form saying nothing to saying Mumma and Dadda. He’s eating on his own, moving around, pointing at pictures and trying to talk. I thought for sure he’d regress go into his shell and he didn’t. He absolutely blossomed.”
Karen McClure-Richard is the Director of The Early Learning Center. She recalled, “We could tell right away that he understood so much more than he was able to share with us. The minute he knew he was safe and loved and challenged, he started rising to reach new goals every day.”
The first goal was to get him out of his wheel chair and begin building muscle tone and coordination. “We wanted him out of his wheelchair and using as little equipment as possible so he could sit at the same level with his peers and have snack time. By sitting up, he was moving his legs and working on core strengthening.”
They also learned that he loved singing and doing arm movements so they started incorporating that into his therapy. Within a month he was crawling on his own. “He’s so happy,” Karen said. “He’s grown stronger and is doing everything his peers are doing. He’s amazing. Now he’s standing at the table by pulling himself up unassisted.”
Lisa particularly loves that whatever they are trying with Ryder at home, the staff at the Early Learning Center will also do with him at school. “The consistency between school and home has brought huge progress and the time and effort is paying off. I’m so proud of him.”