When Elaina was born on December 5th, 2014, parents Mary and Travis learned she was diagnosed with Pallister Hall Syndrome; a genetic disorder. Elaina's diagnosis required multiple surgeries, and made it difficult for her to cope with viruses. Because of this, Elaina spent much of her first year of life in the hospital, exhibiting low muscle tone and experiencing delays in her developmental milestones. As a parent of three other children, Mary felt like a self-described "new mom", and was overwhelmed at times.
It was after these difficult first months that the Cornwall Family connected with the SPICE Program at Marcfirst. When the SPICE therapists arrived in her home, Mary found a network of support; not only for Elaina's development, but support for her as a parent as well. "The therapists were wonderful", Mary said, as they listened to her concerns, offered ideas, and worked to strengthen Elaina's muscles using entertaining activities that often included her siblings in the fun. "Each time they set a new goal - sitting, being mobile, communicating, or walking - I was a little doubtful", Mary recalls.
But, one by one, Elaina started meeting those new goals. The physical therapists brought things to get Elaina's attention, like a walker or a tiny bike that was just her size. Her speech therapist helped to find fun ways to encourage communication, and Elaina began to sign simple words because her baby doll was signing them too. Her developmental therapist brought along what Mary described as a "Mary Poppins Bag", filled with different items to help with Elaina's coordination and pretend play. "I am so thankful to the SPICE ladies who have helped me help my daughter. Without them, I wouldn't have had the knowledge, training, or wonderful ideas to help Elaina the way that they have."
Hundreds of children and families just like the Cornwalls are in need of Marcfirst and SPICE services. Our mission is to help them all. We need your support to make it happen.