GIVE provides the power of play
10 year-old Rhianna is discovering the benefits of play, such as improved strength, coordination and confidence, thanks to a playset funded by Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Rihanna has Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental coordination disorder and dyspraxia, which affect her ability to walk, run, jump and throw. She also has significant visual perception issues, making it difficult for her to climb steps or ladders without help.
Rhianna’s carer, Leanne, said that the Rhianna would get upset when she saw other children doing things she couldn’t do easily.
“Rhianna has delayed and inhibited gross motor skills, which makes it hard for her to do things other kids her age can do,” she said.
“She tries so hard to do the things she sees everyone else doing, but gets very frustrated when she doesn’t succeed and goes into severe meltdown mode.”
So late last year Leanne applied to Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program for a grant to purchase a play set that would allow Rhianna to practice at home. Her application was successful and a play set, including monkey bars, ropes, climbing apparatus, a fireman pole, netball hoop and swings, was installed at the family home.
“Last year Rhianna did not have the coordination, let alone the strength to be able to climb stairs or grasp the top of a monkey bar,” Leanne said.
“Now, just one month after receiving the play set she is able to climb the ladder, hold onto the frame and move across the monkey bars easily. She can even pull herself on top of the monkey bars and crawl across the top of them to the other side.”
“Having the play set at home also means that she can practice her skills in a familiar environment, rather than at the park or play centre where she’s goes in to sensory overload and can’t regulate herself.”
Pictured: Rihanna hanging from the monkey bars in her play set.
All the practice on the play set is also helping Rhianna work toward achieving her therapy goals, which include climbing stairs independently and accessing the community safely.
“More recently Rhianna has been walking up and down stairs with one foot per step opposed to two feet per step with minimal frustration,” Leanne said.
“She still has a long way to go in terms of building her strength and coordination, but we are working on it daily with assistance from her Physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist.”
Leanne said that the grant had been life changing for Rhianna and was thankful to the donors who make the GIVE Program possible.
“I cannot tell you how much the GIVE grant has changed this little girl’s life,” she said.
“Without access to this kind of equipment Rhianna’s skills would be nowhere near where they are now – and her confidence grown so much. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Pictured: Rihanna playing on her play set funded by the GIVE Program.
Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is made possible by generous donations from the Western Australian community. Therapy Focus clients, their families and carers can apply to the GIVE Program for funding grants to purchase items that promote Independence, participation and social include of people living with disability. To donate or apply, click here.
GIVE provides wheelie great benefits
15 year-old Orion Bin Tahal is getting his daily exercise whilst enjoying opportunities to interact with neighbours and friends thanks to a bike funded through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Orion’s Mum Fabiola said that, prior to receiving the bike, her son would spend most of his time in his bedroom.
“Like a lot of teenagers, Orion likes to stay in his room and watch movies or listen to music. Music is his number one passion, but I wanted him to have more opportunities to be active.”
“I can’t ride a bike myself and I actually never knew that Orion could ride a bike until recently, when his teacher told me that he attends regular bike riding sessions at school. So I thought, well if he can ride a bike then I’ve got to get him a bike!”
Orion’s Therapy Focus Speech Pathologist and Key Worker, Claudette Brandis, supported the family to apply to the GIVE Program, which provides funding for items that promote independence, participation and social inclusion of people living with disability.
“Orion has severely impaired expressive communication difficulties and as result has difficulties starting a conversation, asking and answering questions and maintaining a conversation,” Claudette said.
“The bike provides great opportunities for Orion to be involved in the local community and reap the benefits of social interaction with his neighbours, who ride their bikes together in their quiet cul-de-sac most afternoons.”
Fabiola said that the family are now enjoying daily bike rides together.
“Every morning we’ll go for a bike ride just to get his body moving and now as the weather has started to get better hopefully we can go out in the evenings as well,” she said.
“It’s all about physical activity and just getting him out of the house and into the neighbourhood.”
In thanking donors who support the GIVE Program, Fabiola said that the bike couldn’t have come at a better time for the family.
“It worked out perfectly because the bike came just in time for Orion’s birthday,” she said.
“I would have never thought that I would be able to get a bike for Orion. For a lot of people, a couple hundred dollars might not seem like a lot of money, but for our family that’s a lot. In order to get something like a bike we’d have to do without a lot of things while we put away money.”
To learn more about the GIVE Program, click here or contact us.
Pictured: Orion on his bike.
GIVE provides the gift of guitar lessons
16 year-old Joseph Martin has always dreamed of playing guitar in a band. And thanks to a GIVE Program grant for guitar lessons, that dream can edge a little closer to reality.
Joseph began weekly guitar lessons at Classic Sounds Music School in Kelmscott last year, but after two terms the family found that they couldn’t afford to sustain the lessons long-term.
Seeing the benefits that learning to play the guitar had provided, Joseph’s Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Melissa Athanassiou helped the family apply for a funding grant through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program so that the lessons could continue.
“Guitar lessons have provided Joseph with a meaningful leisure activity that he looks forward to each week. Not only is it allowing him to develop a new skill that he is interested in, it is also providing him with new social interactions.”
“Since attending the lessons, Joseph has been more motivated to share his experiences in social settings and his confidence is growing.”
Melissa said the guitar tutor, Dicko Green was experienced with students who have special needs, which made it a good fit for Joseph, who has an intellectual disability.
“Dicko has provided a supportive environment, opportunities for Joseph to practice his social interactions and – most importantly – joy through learning,” she said.
Pictured: Joseph with his guitar tutor Dicko at Classic Sounds Music School
Joseph’s father, Raymond said that Joseph loved the guitar and developing his technique meant a lot to him.
“When he stopped the lessons, he tried to teach himself how to play on the iPad, but he really struggled. Now he’s back at Classic Sounds he has improved a lot and after his lessons he gets out the iPad and practices,” he said.
Raymond said that the consistency of weekly lessons with a calm and patient tutor had been great for Joseph.
“He’s fantastic now and I love sitting there and watching him play. He picks up the guitar and goes into his own little world. It has helped him to be much calmer and happier and he’s become a totally different person,” he said.
“We are so grateful to have had the lessons funded through the GIVE Program and to have Melissa’s support.”
Find out more about Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program, or call 1300 135 373.
GIVE helps Zaki go for a stroll with his bro
2-year-old Zakariya Hashi is now able to go for walks in comfort with his new baby brother thanks to a grant from Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Zaki has some developmental difficulties and is working with his Therapy Focus therapy team to achieve goals relating to mobility and positioning. When in a sitting position Zaki requires supports to help maintain head control and a good seated posture.
In early 2018, the Hashi family received a specialised stroller and seating system through the State Government’s Community Aids and Equipment Program (CAEP), which allows Zaki’s family to take him to and from appointments and access the community, as well as provide safe seating for mealtimes.
But with a new baby arriving in early 2018 and a car boot that couldn’t accommodate two strollers, the Hashi family applied to Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program for a sibling seat that can be attached to Zaki’s stroller, as well as a shade cover to protect Zaki and his baby brother Zubeyr from the sun.
Zaki’s Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist Melissa Athanassiou said she was really happy to see the stroller and attachments making life a little easier for the family of six.
“The stroller and seating system are vital to providing Zaki with a safe seated position for mealtimes and play, as well as allowing his family to go out into the community with less difficulty.”
“Zaki also has a cortical visual impairment and is sensitive to light, so the additional attachments ensure Zaki and his new sibling are protected from the sun.”
Zaki’s father, Abdifatah Hassan said that although the family hadn’t had the stroller for very long, it had been very helpful to his son.
“The stroller and seating unit has helped him quite well and in the short time he’s had it, he’s really enjoyed it,” he said.
“So far he’s really enjoyed using the stroller and we are looking forward to taking Zaki out more to see the world around him.”
Mr Hassan said the GIVE Program was important because people would be able to access items that better their lives.
“In the future, I just want Zaki to be happy, helped and loved,” he said.
Find out more about Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program
Pictured: Zaki and his baby brother, Zubeyr in their stroller system, ready for adventures
Lucas the Karate Kid
9 year-old Lucas Hillbeck is taking on school with a new found confidence after receiving a Therapy Focus GIVE grant to fund his karate lessons.
Lucas has Dyspraxia which causes him difficulty in co-ordination and movement, as well as intellectual disability and severe speech delay, which can make concentrating and communicating in a classroom environment challenging.
Lucas first started karate when his mother, Stephanie thought it would be a good accompaniment to his physiotherapy.
“A few years ago when Lucas was really struggling with gross motor skills and core strength we enrolled him in karate, swimming and dancing,” said Stephanie.
“We found that as well as helping him physically, karate helped him with discipline and his ability to be confident in his communication with others.”
“His progress has been fantastic so we’ve applied to the GIVE program a few times to keep him coming to lessons. I was so excited to find out that our application was successful this time.”
School of Freestyle Martial Arts Instructor Glen Philips explained how the school had been working with Lucas to assist him in his physical and intellectual development.
“Something we instil in all our students, regardless of ability, is to be confident to communicate verbal commands to those around them when they don’t feel safe, comfortable, or just need more space. The physical practice follows on from there,” said Glen.
“As Lucas learns longer sequences and more complex moves he is learning to increase his concentration and memory, as well as gaining more physical strength. Just like all the other kids here, Lucas is expected to be focusing and showing respect to the best of his ability, at all times.”
With school going back for term one, Lucas is back in the dojo and enjoying karate more than ever.
“Even just from the break over the school holidays we saw a big difference in Lucas’ co-ordination and behaviour,” said Stephanie.
“Now that school is back we’re hoping karate will continue to develop the skills he’s been working hard on.”
Learn more about the Therapy Focus GIVE program
Pictured: Nine year-old Lucas Hillbeck with his Karate Instructor
Liam dances up a storm
18 year-old Liam Byrne has taken on the best of the best in hip hop dancing at an international competition in Sydney.
Liam, who has autism, dances with a crew from Joondalup Entertainers Theatre School, where he also works as a student teacher.
Liam’s mum, Debbie, explained that the team earned their place in the National Championships after entering a local competition.
“Liam and the crew entered the WA Battleground competition and placed in the top three, earning themselves a spot in the National Championship in Sydney,” said Debbie.
“Liam was extremely proud and excited about the opportunity, however his diagnosis means he requires additional support to cope with the social and emotional challenges the opportunity presents.”
While fundraising for Liam to go on the team trip, as all other participants did, Debbie successfully applied to Therapy Focus’ Grants for Inclusion, Value and Equality (GIVE) program to fund her own travel to Sydney so that she would be able to support Liam.
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Pictured: Liam and his mother Debbie
“Liam needs some support and coaching to assist him in his decision making in social situations,” said Debbie.
“He had a great time over the weekend in Sydney. He was making friends with peers the same age as him and having a ball participating in what he’s most passionate about – dancing.”
“As well as competing with his crew, Liam had the opportunity to partake in a workshop with famous dancers Parris Goebel and the Royal Family. Out of the 350 dancers from across Australia and Asia, Liam was chosen to dance with them at the front. He was truly over joyed, I’ve never seen him so happy.”
Jets Principal, Ros, said Liam was a fantastic member of the Jets community.
“Having Liam as both a student and a teacher brings so much joy to the school,” said Ros.
“We’re so thankful and truly thrilled that he was able to join us on this trip.”
Applications for the next round of GIVE funding are currently open. Learn more.
Pictured: Liam teaching a class of pre-teen dancers at Joondalup Entertainers Theatre School
Hristijan’s backyard blitz
Perth based project management company NS Projects has built a custom backyard for 12-year-old Hristijan Necovska, who has cerebral palsy.
Over two weekends, 16 volunteers from NS Projects converged on the Marangaroo family home to create a safe and accessible space for Hristijan to relax and spend time with his family.
Hristijan’s mum, Biljana said a new backyard would give him the opportunity to practice his walking skills at home.
“Hristijan loves being outside, but the size of his wheelchair and walker meant he couldn’t access the higher part of the garden,” said Biljana
“We hope that with the new backyard Hristijan will be able to spend more time with us outside and have the space to safely practice walking.
Therapy Focus Physiotherapist Shannen Stanes explained the plans will allow Hristijan to have time out of his wheelchair and the opportunity to be more involved in family life.
“The new garden has a soft surfaced area designed for floor-based play. Hristijan will be out of his wheelchair and playing at the same level as his younger brother,” said Shannen.
“There is also a ramp from the lower level of the garden to the upper level where the veggie garden is. The whole backyard is now accessible to Hristijan and the ramp will provide a great opportunity for him to be out of his chair and get more time on his feet.”
For more information about NS Projects visit www.nspm.com.au.
Learn more about the organisations Therapy Focus partners with.
Pictured: Hristijan (front left) with his Mum, NS Projects volunteers and Therapy Focus staff.
Special seat brings family together
2 year-old Nate Shaffer has a new view of the world and is spending more quality time with his family thanks to a specialised corner seat courtesy of Telethon.
Nate has Trisomy 18 which affects his development, making him a size similar to that of a 6 month-old. The condition also causes muscle weakness, making it difficult for him to sit upright on his own.
Nate’s Physiotherapist, Su Lin Ng, suggested the family trial a corner seat with pelvic and chest straps to give Nate the stability he needs when sitting. Su Lin said the chair allows Nate to focus on using his hands to play and develop his gross motor skills.
“Being able to sit is a necessity for a 1-year-old. It’s essential to everyday play and interaction with the world around them. Nate’s older brother Caden can now play with Nate on the floor, without relying on mum to assist by holding Nate upright,” Su Lin said.
Pictured: Thanks to his new special chair, Nate (R) and his big brother Caden can enjoy more brothers-only bonding time.
Thanks to generous support from Telethon, a Jenx corner seat and nursery table was purchased for Nate and his family. And according to Nate’s mum Sam, great progress is being made.
“Before we received the seat, Nate would spend the majority of his time lying on his back. The chair has given him a different perspective of his environment and allows him to interact with us and his therapists,” Sam said.
“We’ve also seen Nate’s core strength and balance develop so that he can now sit for very short moments unassisted – something we never thought possible! We are so proud of how far Nate has come and he is definitely our shining star.”
As a beneficiary of Telethon, Therapy Focus receives generous funding to assist children with disabilities. For more information visit www.telethon7.com.
Tune in to Channel 7 during the Telethon weekend in October to see Nate and his corner seat in action!
Pictured: The Shaffer family is enjoying more quality time together thanks to Telethon.
Pilates reformer helps Liam in more ways than one
A Pilates reformer funded through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program has kept 17 year-old Liam Hidding on his feet and allowed him to improve his strength and mobility in the comfort of his own home.
Liam has both Down Syndrome and cerebral palsy, which affect his muscles in conflicting ways. His Mum Ingrid said that he’s had to undergo a number of orthopaedic surgeries which have at times been very debilitating for her son.
“Liam has low muscle tone as a result of having Down Syndrome and high muscle tone due to the cerebral palsy. He’s had a number of surgeries and really struggled to bounce back from a hip surgery in 2012 which had him off his feet and unable to weight bear for 6 weeks.”
A Physiotherapist from Wize Therapy suggested using a Pilates reformer to assist with recovery and the exercises proved to be very beneficial for Liam. But the round trip to and from the Booragoon clinic took almost 3 hours for the Byford based family, and was costing them $300 for 2 sessions each week.
So Ingrid applied to Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program for a $5000 funding grant to purchase a Pilates reformer for use at home, plus 3 therapy sessions with a Wize Therapy Physiotherapist to help get set-up.
Liam now comes home early from school 3 days a week to complete a 1 hour session with assistance from his Mum and either his teacher’s aid or physiotherapist. Ingrid said that since receiving the reformer Liam is stronger, has better balance and can independently transfer from his walker or wheelchair to standing.
“The reformer exercises have been amazing for Liam. We’re able to isolate the muscles we want to work on and Liam can’t trick us by compensating with other muscles. We can physically feel which muscles are working,” Ingrid said.
“We had 6 weeks off over Christmas and we really saw the effects of that break. Having not done the reformer exercises for so long Liam was struggling to transfer and pull himself up to stand. It’s been invaluable to the maintenance of his muscle tone and keeping his strength up.”
Ingrid also thanked supporters of the GIVE Program, saying that without the grant the family would not have been able to afford the reformer sessions that had made such a difference in Liam’s life.
“We are so thankful as a family that we have the independence to manage the exercises ourselves and can do them at home. Liam has progressed so much and can do the simpler exercises independently with only verbal prompting, which is so great to see.”
For more information about the GIVE Program, or to make a donation, visit www.therapyfocus.org.au/GIVE.
Pictured: Liam using his reformer with the help of his Wize Therapy Physiotherapist (L) and Mum, Ingrid (R).
New wheels a weight off family’s shoulders
8 year-old Noah von Bergheim and his family can access their community more easily thanks to their new wheelchair-modified van, which was funded with the assistance of Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Noah has Lissencephaly and Epilepsy, and endured a number of prolonged seizures at the start of 2015, which required emergency medications. These seizures and their potential for recurrence meant that Noah could no longer travel on the school bus, which made things a little tricky for his parents Gavin and Belinda.
“Noah’s a growing boy and his increasing height and weight meant that getting him in and out of our small SUV was a twice-daily safety risk for him and his mum” Gavin said.
“Because of this, Belinda and the kids were largely housebound and limited car trips to medical and therapy appointments, which was very restrictive and unfair on them.”
“Belinda and I realised that we urgently needed a vehicle that would allow us to transfer Noah to and from his wheelchair safely so that our family could start enjoying the community again.”
The von Bergheim’s received a $5000 grant through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program to help purchase a second-hand Kia Carnival, which was modified to accommodate Noah’s wheelchair. Additional funding from Variety WA, Telethon, Independent Living Centre and WA Charity Direct also helped cover costs, which totalled $37,000.
Since receiving the modified vehicle, the von Bergheims say family life has greatly improved.
“We are now able to get Noah to school and medical appointments safely and easily,” Gavin said.
“The vehicle has given us more opportunities and made it easier to get around, which is not only important for Noah, but also his younger sister Ayla, who we don’t want to be disadvantaged or unnecessarily housebound.”
Additionally, the von Bergheim’s can now enlist additional family members to provide transport assistance, such as Noah’s grandparents who were unable to transport Noah before the family received their modified vehicle.
Gavin said his family were eternally grateful to the funding bodies that helped them.
“The funding Therapy Focus provided and helped us acquire, as well as the assistance and guidance throughout the process, has saved us months of further fundraising and has given our family back invaluable time. Our heartfelt thanks to everybody involved. You may never fully appreciate the magnitude of what you have helped us achieve – but we do every single day,” Gavin said.
Pictured: Noah has prime position in his family’s new wheelchair-modified van.
Theo’s Telethon Trike
4 year-old Theodore Legg can now enjoy the community with his family and friends thanks to his customised trike from Telethon.
Theo has autism and a genetic disorder which causes muscle weakness and makes it difficult for him to participate in activities without assistance. Theo’s mum, Sharon, said that his health issues had limited his ability to enjoy an active outdoor lifestyle with his family.
“Theo’s medical needs have taken priority in his life and it’s meant that he has missed out some experiences,” Sharon said.
“Since Theo received his bike our family has been able to spend more time outdoors which has been great.”
“It’s wonderful to see Theo so happy, riding his bike and waving at the passing trucks, cars and buses.”
As a beneficiary of Telethon, Therapy Focus receives generous funding to assist children with disabilities. Theo received a portion of this funding in 2015 to purchase the customised trike. The kitted-out set of wheels has rear steering controls so that Sharon can help push, adjustable handle bars, back support with a chest strap and foot cups with straps; all of which provide Theo with the postural support he needs to ride his bike.
The Telethon Weekend is being held on the 15th and 16th of October at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre. For more information visit www.telethon.7perth.com.au.
Pictured: Theo enjoying his new bike with his Mum, Sharon, and Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist Shanae Guppy.
iPad helps keep Ben on task
14-year-old Ben Henson is doing better at school and becoming more independent with the help of an iPad he received through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Ben, who has Down syndrome, uses a number of apps on the iPad to develop his literacy and numeracy skills, as well as prompt him to complete his daily tasks.
Therapy Focus Speech Pathologist, Natasha Duncan, said the iPad is having a positive influence on Ben’s participation at school.
“Ben is highly motivated by technology and since he started using the iPad at home to improve his literacy skills, his classroom participation has increased,” Natasha said.
Ben’s mum, Kristie, says the iPad is helping Ben to become more independent, particularly with regard to his daily schedule.
“The Choice Works app has been great at prompting Ben to complete his daily tasks. Even though we already had a schedule on the wall, he is far more fascinated with the iPad app and more likely to complete things using that,” Kristie said.
Ben was one of 17 applicants awarded a share of $30,000 in the May round of the GIVE Program, which assists with the purchase of equipment, activities and resources for individuals and families accessing Therapy Focus services.
“When we found out Ben got the grant, we were so excited. The iPad is such a great learning tool, as well as a great reward tool to encourage Ben to complete his schoolwork or chores,” Kristie said.
But it’s not all work and no play for Ben, who also likes to use the iPad to show off his dance moves.
“Ben’s a bit of a filmmaker. He sets the iPad up and records himself dancing,” Kristie said.
Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is made possible by donations from the WA community. For more information, or to donate, visit www.therapyfocus.org.au/GIVE.
Pictured: Ben with his Therapy Focus therapists, Ashleigh Sibbald (L) and Natasha Duncan (R).
Garden renovation helps John find his feet
Perth-based project management company, NS Projects, have installed a custom backyard for Balga teenager John Sturzaker, who has a complex seizure disorder known as West Syndrome.
John’s condition affects his ability to walk so he often crawls around the family home where space is too limited for his wheelchair. John’s Mum Elizabeth said that prior to the garden renovation the family’s backyard was “basically all loose dirt”, which meant that John would often miss out on spending time outdoors.
“It was really upsetting having to leave John inside playing with his toys because we didn’t want him to have to crawl through the dirt or get his wheelchair stuck,” Elizabeth said.
Over a weekend in June staff from NS Projects and Therapy Focus volunteered their time to install paving, synthetic grass, a shade sail, raised garden beds and a sensory wall in the family’s backyard. Most of the materials used in the renovation were generously donated by NS Projects and other organisations, including Georgiou and Phase 3.
John’s Therapy Focus Physiotherapist, Shannen Stanes said she had been working with John to improve his mobility when she recommended the family for the garden renovation, viewing it as an opportunity to increase his access and independence at home.
“John had been using a walker at school with great success, but there wasn’t enough room for him to continue practicing at home,” Shannen said.
“The large paved area in the newly renovated backyard will provide John with more opportunities to practice using a walker, which will really help his strength, coordination and give him an overall sense of independence.”
Senior Project Manager Tracy Mackay said the garden renovation not only provided NS Projects with an opportunity to assist financially, but also gave employees an opportunity to donate their time to and “get their hands dirty.”
“The renovation enabled us to draw on our unique skill set and express the care and professionalism we take in delivering all our projects. The exceptional team delivered such an incredible outcome for John and his family, and seeing him outside and able to access the backyard at the end of our work was fabulous.”
Elizabeth said that in addition to practicing walking, John can now also enjoy making music on the sensory wall, smelling the herbs and flowers in the garden and relaxing on the grass with his family.
“I’m so grateful to NS Projects and Therapy Focus. The transformation is amazing and will make such a difference in John’s life.”
NS Projects partners with Therapy Focus to provide financial assistance for projects or activities that are not eligible for regular Government or alternative funding assistance. Find out more about our Partners.
Pictured: John in his new backyard with his family, Therapy Focus and NS Projects staff. View more photos on our Facebook page.
Sensory swing helps calm Corey
14 year-old Corey Hipper is better equipped to manage his emotions since receiving specialised sensory equipment through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Like many children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Corey experiences difficulty when it comes to his sensory processing. Loud noises, bright lights and large crowds can be overwhelming and often result in Corey dropping to the floor and rocking, or even banging his head in extreme circumstances.
In an effort to support Corey’s sensory regulation, Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Emily Greenwood, assisted the Hipper family in applying to the GIVE Program for an Airwalker swing, Co-Oper blanket and Body Sox.
“All of the items provide Corey with deep pressure, which has a calming effect. The movement back and forth in the swing also replaces his need to rock, and the way it encloses around him provides a dark, hidden environment away from the noise and light that he can find distressing,” Emily said.
“Corey had been using the items at school with great success, and would always ask to go on the swing when he was at home. It was so heart-breaking saying no, so we applied to the GIVE Program so that he could continue to enjoy the benefits at home.”
The $5000 grant not only funded the sensory items themselves, but also the installation of the swing, which required a support beam be placed in the roof of the family’s home to ensure it’s safe use.
Corey’s Mum, Kylie says that having the equipment at home has meant that Corey can independently regulate his emotions and manage his sensory needs.
“Corey no longer experiences the extreme highs and lows when he’s at home, and can calm himself when he’s feeling hyper[active],” Kylie said.
“The swing is by far the best thing he’s ever had and I’m so grateful to Emily for her support.”
Emily has also seen vast improvements in Corey, saying that in the three years she has worked with Corey he is now at his calmest.
“The flow-on effects are truly amazing. Everyday activities like catching the bus to and from school are made that much easier for Corey thanks to the calming effects.”
For more information about the GIVE Program or to apply visit www.therapyfocus.org.au/give.
The GIVE Program is made possible by the generous support of our partners and the wider WA community. Make a donation today.
Freemasons give Ryan new wheels
8-year-old Ryan McCarthy can now enjoy rides through his local neighbourhood thanks to a modified tricycle donated by the Freemasons.
Ryan has Phelan-McDermid syndrome and has been receiving support from Therapy Focus since 2012. As a result of his condition, Ryan has an intellectual disability, vision impairment, hearing impairment, is non-verbal and has delayed gross motor skills.
The Charity Committee of the Freemasons’ Lodge St Andrew generously provided $1670 to purchase Ryan a modified tricycle after learning about his love for bike riding, which he enjoys regularly at Kenwick Education Support School.
The tricycle is fitted with a wide seat and waist strap to help Ryan remain in an upright position, as well as foot cups to help him keep his feet on the pedals. It also has an attendee handle that his Mum, Denise, can use if Ryan needs assistance.
Ryan and Denise can now enjoy regular walks through the neighbourhood, which will be made easier by the tricycle and access paths recently installed by City of Gosnells following requests from Denise to make it more accessible.
The Charity Committee of the Freemasons’ Lodge St Andrew (L-R: Bill Weird, David Begg, Kevin McKay, Dennis Fowles, Charles Wolrige Gordon, Tom Ross, Donald Wakenshaw, Clive Lynn) generously purchased a modified tricycle for Ryan.
Marshall by name, martial by nature
13 year-old Marshall Frankis is a new man since receiving funding for martial arts lessons through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program and the Barrows Foundation.
Marshall has an intellectual disability and started martial arts tuition at Premier Martial Arts and Fitness Academy after being awarded the charitable funding.
Marshall’s mum, Leah, says Marshall’s therapist suggested martial arts after an unsuccessful attempt at athletics. She has been pleasantly surprised by the positive effect it’s had on all aspects of Marshall’s life.
“Martial arts has helped Marshall more than I could have imagined. He’s more confident, is socialising better and is doing better at school, therapy sessions and at home,” Leah said.
“Marshall has grown to love martial arts and has learnt what a difference it makes to his life when he goes compared to when he doesn’t. He is also learning self-defence, which is an important skill for him to have.”
Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Natascha Muehlberg, has also witnessed the changes in Marshall.
“Since he became involved in martial arts, Marshall has made significant gains with his communication skills, including speech clarity, which has been an ongoing goal for a number of years. His balance, coordination and fine motor skills have also improved and he is socialising well with his peers,” Natascha said.
Over the last year Marshall has attended a number of gradings, which are assessed on skill, technique, taekwondo patterns, sparring (kickboxing) and self-defense. He is steadily progressing through the belt system and enjoys the recognition he receives for how far he has come.
Marshall’s goal is to achieve a black belt one day.
Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program is only made possible by donations from the WA community. For more information about the GIVE Program visit www.therapyfocus.org.au/GIVE.
Find out more about Therapy Focus’ Barrows Fund, which has been created following the closure of the Barrows Foundation.
Marshall Frankis shows off his moves to Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Natasha Muehlberg, at Premier Martial Arts in Clarkson.
New wheels provide new found independence for Jasmin
15 year-old Jasmin Steiner has discovered her inner confidence and a new sense of independence after receiving her very own bicycle through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Jasmin was one of 13 applicants awarded a share of $20,000 in the June round of the charitable program, which assists with the purchase of equipment, activities, resources and additional supports for individuals and families accessing Therapy Focus services. The Steiner family applied for a $500 grant to purchase the bike for Jasmin, who has a rare genetic condition that affects her development.
Prior to receiving her bike, Jasmin took part in lessons at school using a borrowed bike with training wheels. Progressing to a two-wheeler was a daunting prospect for Jasmin, whose confidence would fall whenever she did, but after a couple months of perseverance she mastered the skill and left the training wheels behind.
Jasmin’s Mum, Monika, applied to the GIVE Program in the thought that a bike of her own would assist with further development of Jasmin’s balance and coordination, as well as increase her confidence and independence. “Bike riding not only gives Jasmin an opportunity to develop physical skills, it also gives her an enjoyable activity she can do regularly in everyday life,” Monika said.
“We can now enjoy going for family bike rides along the South Perth foreshore on the weekends and it’s great to see how much her confidence has improved.”
Therapy Focus Occupational Therapist, Bernadette Safe, has also witnessed the many benefits of the new bike saying “Jasmin can now independently access her community and spend time with her siblings. She really enjoys the activity and it’s a good form of exercise for her physical health and wellbeing.”
For more information about the GIVE Program visit www.therapyfocus.org.au/GIVE.
GIVE helps Lilyan tune into her future
15-year-old Lilyan Smith is focused on the path to stardom thanks to her new Phonak’s Roger Focus and Pen FM Hearing System, which was purchased through Therapy Focus’ GIVE Program.
Lilyan was one of 14 Therapy Focus clients awarded a share of $20,000 through the Program, which aims to support independence, participation and social inclusion of people with disabilities and their families. Lilyan received a $5000 grant to purchase the amplification system, which will help combat the auditory processing difficulties she experiences as a result of her Autism.
Whilst Lilyan has normal hearing, her brain has difficulty processing information, meaning she is easily distracted and finds it difficult to understand and retain information in class. Lilyan has noticed a big difference since she started using the Phonak’s device, saying that it helps her to stay focused in the classroom where there is a lot of competing background noise.
“My concentration has really improved and I can understand what my teachers are saying much better, especially in a noisy classroom.”
The Phonak’s hearing device is comprised of two parts: a Roger Pen and Roger Focus. The teacher wears the Roger Pen microphone, while Lilyan wears a very discreet Roger Focus behind-the-ear receiver in each ear. The microphone clarifies the teacher’s words before sending the instructions directly to the receivers in Lilyan’s ears, minimizing any distracting background noise.
The amplification system is also wireless and uses Bluetooth technology; allowing Lilyan to connect it to multiple devices in different learning environments. This versatility is appreciated by Lilyan, who says “I love using it to listen to music on my iPad.”
In addition to helping with her schoolwork, the system has also helped Lilyan with her music. A talented singer, Lilyan is a member of the Variety Youth Choir and is currently completing a Certificate 2 in Performing Arts. She has her heart set on studying a Certificate 4 in Musical Theatre next year, so the GIVE grant has come at a good time.
“I can now hear the conductor over the music which makes it a lot easier to follow along with what’s happening” Lilyan said.
Are you a family receiving Therapy Focus services and wish to apply to our GIVE Program? Applications for the third round of funding are now open!
For more information and to download an application form, visit our GIVE Program page.