Shortly after Noah was born, he began receiving outpatient physical therapy while in NICU. Thankfully, his physical therapist told us about Dr. Charlie Law and the Ability Clinic (then Life Without Limits Clinic). At one month old, Noah started using United Ability’s Early Intervention services. We now understand why Dr. Gary Edwards, United Ability CEO, says, “Babies can’t wait.” It’s true.
When Noah was six months old, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. The neurologist told us to take Noah home and to love him but not to expect much from him. In fact, the neurologist told us a lot of things that Noah would never be able to do. We left feeling helpless and hopeless. Determined to help Noah be his best, we began seeking guidance in this new and unexpected journey.
We made an appointment with Dr. Law, who confirmed that Noah did have cerebral palsy but also gave us a very different perspective. Dr. Law focused on the things that Noah would be able to do. He shared that our goals would look different than we initially thought, but Noah would reach goals in his own time. Dr. Law told us that Noah would be happy, that our family would be ok, and that there was an entire team of experts at United Ability to help Noah from infancy through adulthood. That was exactly what I had been praying for and God answered in a big way when we found United Ability. That was the first time since Noah’s catastrophic birth that I was able to take a deep breath and feel like we finally fit somewhere.
Noah remained in the United Ability Early Intervention program until he aged out at three, but once again, United Ability stood ready to lend support and help us with our next step. Noah started in the United Ability Hand In Hand Early Learning Program at 15 months and he is currently in one of the pre-Kindergarten classes. Noah is also connected to the United Ability Outpatient Therapy team and receives physical, occupational, and speech therapy BOTH in the classroom and in the outpatient clinic.
Everyone at United Ability has had an impact on Noah, but when I think back, Marliese Delgado, Outpatient Lead Physical Therapist, stands out in my mind. When Marliese evaluated Noah, she asked if I was ready for him to working on walking. I laughed because he was still working on sitting unassisted. Then I realized she was serious! I cried all the way home overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for all the things she believed for Noah.
Week after week, Marliese put Noah on the treadmill, sitting behind him to support his body while I manually moved each foot for him. After several weeks, he was able to move into a gait trainer on the treadmill. Weeks later, Marliese moved the gait trainer to the hallway, where he moved his feet on his own little by little. Marliese set a goal that summer that Noah would walk in his gait trainer in the school Halloween parade. We decorated the gait trainer like a pirate ship, and he did the walk the entire parade route. I quickly realized that what Marliese believed for Noah, he started believing for himself!
As time passed, we continued to see Dr. Law, who had mentioned a surgical procedure that could help Noah with his spasticity. Noah would need to accomplish a checklist of physical tasks to qualify for this life-changing surgery: a selective dorsal rhizotomy. Marliese worked for two years pushing Noah to gain independence and Noah had this surgery in July. He continues intensive physical therapy at United Ability.
When I’m asked how United Ability has impacted our family, I think back and share, “When Noah was diagnosed with CP, we had no idea what to do or where to turn. United Ability has been a safe place for questions, frustrations, and guidance as we raise Noah in a world that doesn’t understand disabilities. Noah has thrived at United Ability. He has had some of the best early intervention and outpatient therapists around. They have been an integral part of him proving the initial doctor wrong! His teachers at Hand in Hand the past four years are amazing and push him to be his best. The entire staff at Ability Clinic have been so supportive and helpful as Noah’s needs change. Dr. Law is a tremendous asset to our family and all the families he serves. The entire staff at Ability Clinic has been so supportive as we have questions about insurance guidelines and disability services. Their knowledge and resources are invaluable. Other families at Ability Clinic and Hand in Hand ask about Noah’s progress and check on our family. We have celebrated milestones in the hallways with past teachers, therapists, and friends who have become like family. Not only has Noah thrived at United Ability, but our entire family has been supported and empowered. United Ability is a place full of hope, a place where we belong.”
United Ability serves individuals – and their families — living with all types of disabilities. Please contact our Ability Clinic & Outpatient Therapy Program at 205.944.3944 to learn how the Clinic’s unsurpassed staff can help you and your child or loved one push beyond boundaries and dream new dreams.