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2009 Easter Seals Crossroads Child Representative

The Story of Eric D. Poole, Jr.

October 01, 2009
Eric D. Poole, Jr. has been named the 2009 Easter Seals Crossroads Child Representative, a testament to his inherent "can do" attitude and strong sense of determination. He symbolizes the strength and perseverance exhibited by the over 2,000 young consumers served by Easter Seals Crossroads throughout the year. In addition, Eric is an Honorary Ambassador for the disability services agency's annual fundraiser, Walk With Me, which will be held October 22 at Butler University.

In June 2004, Eric D. Poole, Jr. was born prematurely at 26 weeks, weighing just 1 lb. 12 oz. At age three months, and while still hospitalized, he contracted bacterial meningitis, which resulted in a brain injury. At age two, Eric was home, but with a tracheotomy and full-time nursing care; he was emotionally challenged and not thriving physically. In the words of his mother, Nicole, "We knew we could love him, but we didn't know how to help him. So I prayed and prayed, and the answer to my prayers was Easter Seals Crossroads."

Over the past three years, Eric has received intervention therapy from an Easter Seals Crossroads team of four dedicated pediatric medical rehabilitation professionals. First, Eric started with Early Intervention developmental therapist, Katherine Hargreaves, who worked with him steadily for 16 months.

Eric's doctors reported later that his vocal folds were not distinguishable and he had damaged vocal chords. Because of this condition, there could be no prediction as to what type of "voice" Eric might have, if any, as he grew older. It was at this point in December 2007, when he communicated via signs and gestures only, that Eric was evaluated by Ann Silcox, a Crossroads' speech-language therapist.

Ann assessed that Eric did not have any oral airflow cognizance, with the exception of a small, strained cry. After months of blowing bubbles and fogging windows with his breath, Eric achieved oral airflow awareness and started to make vocal sounds independently. Within just one short year, Eric was combining two words.

Eric still faced with many other developmental issues. He had an extremely short attention span and would sit still for one minute at best. He could not run, jump or go up and down stairs independently. He could not draw a line or use scissors. He exhibited behavioral problems, poor participation skills and much gravitational insecurity.

Because of these additional needs, and in conjunction with Ann's speech therapy, Eric began working with Easter Seals Crossroads' physical therapist Dawn McClimon and occupational therapist Karrie Blagrave.

But where is Eric today? Today, we see a young man who has made huge strides. Eric uses the sliding board, runs and jumps into the ball pit, and is even learning to ride a tricycle. He can sit at a table for up to 15 minutes. He is mastering the art of writing the capital letter "E," his first initial. His behavior is great and he participates well.

And what about his voice? Well, this initially very quiet, reserved little boy has evolved into quite a talkative social butterfly. He radiates animation and happily greets everyone in the Crossroads' hallways. All that bubble blowing and window fogging certainly paid off!

All four of his medical rehabilitation therapists agree that a main key to Eric's success is his parents' willingness to extend his therapy activities into their home life and their unconditional love and care for him. Eric's story of victory is an example of teamwork at its best, and the phrase "It takes a village" couldn't be more appropriate than when discussing the success of young Eric D. Poole, Jr.

Candace S. Porter is Director, Marketing and Communications for Easter Seals Crossroads.

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