Infancy wasn’t easy for three-year-old Jesus Cantu, a happy-go-lucky three-year-old with dark curly hair and a smile that can go on for days. At just three months of age, he began having seizures, not just once in a while, but multiple times a day. “He had a very hard time controlling his body during this time in his life,” said Aspire Kids Occupational Therapy Team Leader Namrata (Nami) Shah, who’s been working with Jesus since December 2015. “It was very alarming and upsetting for him, and he couldn’t understand why his body was so hard to control.”
Because of the frequent seizures, Jesus was challenged to learn new skills and achieve his developmental milestones. He was having difficulty learning how to walk, talk and play with age appropriate toys. Eager to find a solution, Jesus’ parents sought assistance at an Early Intervention Program near their home in Indiana “but they didn’t have a very good experience,” said Nami.
That changed when the Cantu family relocated to Illinois and discovered Aspire, whose family-centered approach has proven successful for children with special needs such as developmental delays. Compared to their previous provider, Aspire was a breath of fresh air, providing Jesus with occupational, developmental and physical therapies. His parents were active participants in these sessions, gaining practical skills for engaging and interacting with Jesus to reinforce learning throughout their daily routines.
Aspire therapists also helped the Cantus advocate for Jesus’ developmental and medical needs. “Doctors’ visits can be overwhelming for parents,” said Nami. “As service providers, we can help families navigate the medical and educational system and access a variety of resources.” Aspire’s family-centered approach worked.
Over the past 14 months, Jesus has “made tremendous progress,” said Nami. ‘He’s learned how to feed himself with a spoon, color, and play with a variety of toys.” Jesus achieved another milestone on New Year’s Day when he started walking. “He’s not talking yet, but he babbles all the time,” said Jesus’ mother, Belinda Cantu. “He’s a much happier baby. And he’s not having any seizures,” she added. “We all want to help our kids,” said Belinda, “but sometimes we don’t know the right way to do that. Aspire taught us how.”