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Spinal Cord Injury Paralysis Resource Center

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Just a Kid Again

By Janelle LoBello

Name: Chase Ford
Age: 7
Injury: Contusion of the spinal cord
Mechanism of Injury: Hit head on couch's armrest

We've shared Chase Ford's story before and here is an update. Chase, now 7, has gone through more in the past five years than most children.

At the age of two, Chase fell backwards off a couch, hitting his head on the couch's arm, and was spinal cord injured living with quadriplegia as a result. In September 2010 Chase started second grade and is "as normal as can be" says his mom, Renee Ford.

Chase is now able to walk with just minor or no assistance from a walker

Chase is now able to walk with just minor or no assistance from a walker.

Here's the story
How did Chase go from lying still with no mobility from his neck down to being able to now walk with just minor or no assistance from a walker?

Soon after his injury in June 2005, Chase began therapy at one of the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network (NRN) centers at Frazier Rehabilitation Institute in Louisville, Kentucky. Having been the youngest child to undergo locomotor training, Chase was in therapy five-days-a-week and recently stopped his therapy in January 2010.

"Chase walks with a walker," explains Renee of his current state. "He is no longer in therapy because he met his progression mode. I opted to end Chase's therapy at the end of January for the sole purpose that this is a chapter in his life where he can be as independent as can be. He comes home and plays with his friends down the street."

Chase with his brother, Chandler and sister, Haley.

Chase with his brother, Chandler
and sister, Haley.

School days
Chase started the second grade in August 2010 at the same school as his brother, Chandler, 10, and sister, Haley, 5. Chase doesn't use his walker at home, but he does use it minimally in school.

"Chase regressed a little," explains Renee. "His gait pattern was back to where it's not the prettiest. He is walking on his tippy toes and falls more often so the walker is required in school. Chase has the same teachers he had last year and so they are used to him. They realize that he comes in with a walker and parks it by his chair. He walks around the classroom and uses the chairs or tables for balance. He'll use the walker to go to the bathroom, cafeteria, or in the hallways. He knows his limitations and how far he can go without it." 

At seven-years-old, Chase has had to learn to adjust and do things differently than others around him.

"He's seven, but has the mental capacity of being older than that," says Renee. "He had to learn to adjust and that he can't do it the way you do it, or the way mom does it, or the way his brother and sister do it. He has had to learn if ‘I can't do it this way, then how do I do it?'"

Renee credits Chase's growth and recovery on his youth and strength.

"The amazing resiliency of a child is they will figure things out to where sometimes an adult will let it hinder him," explains Renee of Chase's recovery. "A child will push through to get it done. And to keep up with what other children do, they'll push through to do the same thing. They want to be able to do the same things as other children."

They treat him as one of them whether he can walk like them or can't

Other children treat Chase as one of them whether he can walk like them or can't.

Just a kid
Renee finds that children over all are more accepting than adults towards Chase and his disability.

"Adults will walk by and stare him down," reveals Renee. "I don't know if adults are wondering what happened or if he was born this way. I don't ever get those questions from children. I get, ‘What does he have or what did he do?' They are more accepting. They treat him as one of them whether he can walk like them or can't."

Starting from the ground up, Renee had to think creatively for activities that Chase could play easily and with other kids.

"It was not fun going to Frazier to do occupational therapy and physical therapy," says Renee. "What do you do at home that's kind of fun and he doesn't know that it's really benefiting him? It's called the Nintendo DS, the Wii, and the XBox." Renee uses the video games to get Chase's hands moving.

At the ripe age of four, Chase was playing with the Nintendo DS. His fine motor skills were off and it helped improve his hand-eye coordination.

"The first thing we got him was the DS and when he became really good at it we went to the Wii," says Renee. "The Wii is hand-held but it's also interactive because you're swinging your arms or driving with the Mario Kart. The DS really helped with hand-eye coordination; but the Wii with the TV and device he had to hold were helping to do multiple things."

"What's going to happen when he wants to drive a car?" adds Renee. You have to have that coordination with the hand on where to turn. You do a lot with hand eye coordination. Even using a fork and getting it in his mouth or using a piece of paper, writing with a pen. That's multitasking. He had to learn to do that."

Though Chase had a life-altering injury at a young age, that doesn't change the way his family looks at him

Though Chase had a life-altering injury at a young age, that doesn't change the way his family looks at him.

Family time
Though Chase had a life-altering injury at a young age, that doesn't change the way his family looks at him. According to Renee, Chase and his siblings all get treated and disciplined the same.

"My kids don't look at him as having a disability," explains Renee. "He gives and he receives just as his brother and sister would. He's no different. I get on Chase just like I do with the others. I don't discriminate."

"I wouldn't put Chase in a bubble just because of his injury," says Renee. "Yes, the injury happened and it's a bad thing, but putting him in a bubble and keeping him from living life is an injustice to the life God gave him."

Chase doesn't let the accident that happened to him five-years-ago get him down

Chase doesn't let the accident that happened to him five-years-ago
get him down.

Chasing the fight
Understanding reality, Renee believes that simply because something horrific happened to her little boy, he still has to fight to be independent.

"The world doesn't owe him anything because he had an accident," says Renee. The world's not going to say, 'Oh, the Ford family had a traumatic injury and now life is going to be fulfilling.' It doesn't work that way for anyone."

And so it is the little things in life that Chase has to work harder for.

"It's hard for Chase to fight," explains Renee, "especially at school. To push a pencil, he has to use his brain. The manual labor he can't do. For a person who does have a disability, you have to fight a little extra harder to get what's justifiably theirs. A disability doesn't count you out, you just have to work a little harder and prove your point that you can do it." 

Chase doesn't let the accident that happened to him five-years-ago get him down. "He's thriving and he's productive," says Renee happily. "Chase has better outlook on it [his injury] than I probably did for a long time. It's kind of like a role reversal. He gives me cues, 'Mom, it's okay. It's going to be fine.' If he's not okay with it, then we're going to figure out how to make it okay. If he's okay with it, then I'm okay with it."




More on Chase Ford
The Chase Is On!
- 5-Year-Old Chase is Walking Again


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The ArcThe Arc is the world’s largest community based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides an array of services and support for families and individuals and includes over 140,000 members affiliated through more than 850 state and local chapters across the nation. The Arc is devoted to promoting and improving supports and services for all people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Alliance for Parent CentersThe Technical Assistance ALLIANCE for Parent Centers (the ALLIANCE) is an innovative partnership of one national and six regional parent technical assistance centers, each funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). These seven projects comprise a unified technical assistance system for the purpose of developing, assisting, and coordinating the over 100 Parent Training and Information Centers (PTIs) and Community Parent Resource Centers (CPRCs) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The national and regional parent technical assistance centers work to strengthen the connections to the larger OSEP Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network and fortify partnerships between Parent Centers and education systems at local, state, and national levels.

Ability OnLineA computer friendship network where children and youth with disabilities or chronic illnesses connect to each other as well as to friends, family members, caregivers and supporters.

All Kids Can!A disabilities awareness program that helps students of all ages learn attitudes of acceptance, dignity and respect, especially toward those with disabilities.

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Association of University Centers on Disabilities61 centers of excellence for developmental disabilities

Council for Exceptional ChildrenThe Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving the educational success of individuals with disabilities and/or gifts and talents. CEC advocates for appropriate governmental policies, sets professional standards, provides professional development, advocates for individuals with exceptionalities, and helps professionals obtain conditions and resources necessary for effective professional practice.

Camp Ronald McDonaldA fully accessible residential camp for kids with special needs located in the high Sierra.

Education/TrainingAssociation on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

Easter SealsEaster Seals provides exceptional services, education, outreach, and advocacy so that people living with autism and other disabilities can live, learn, work and play in our communities.

Education Resources Information Center (ERIC)ERIC - the Education Resources Information Center - is an online digital library of education research and information. ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education. ERIC provides ready access to education literature to support the use of educational research and information to improve practice in learning, teaching, educational decision-making, and research.

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HEATHGeorge Washington University’s Heath Resource Center is a national clearinghouse on postsecondary education for people with disabilities. See their 2006 Financial Aid for Individuals with Disabilities

Island Dolphin CareAllows children to swim and play with dolphins.

Family Center on technology and DisabilityThe Family Center is a resource designed to support organizations and programs that work with families of children and youth with disabilities. We offer a range of information and services on the subject of assistive technologies. Whether you're an organization, a parent, an educator, or an interested friend, we hope you'll find information that supports you in your efforts to bring the highest quality education to children with disabilities.

FacingDisability.comFacing Disability is a web resource with more than 1,000 videos drawn from interviews of people with spinal cord injuries, their families, caregivers and experts. I know that this is a lot to ask, but we'd be so grateful for your help. I'm looking forward to discussing this link with you, and to answering any questions you may have.

KidsComSite has plenty of games, message boards, kids chat, video game cheats, contests and prizes.

National information Clearinghouse for Children and Youth with Disabilities INICHCY) NICHCY is very pleased to offer you a wealth of information on disabilities! NICHCY stands for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (NECTAC) Our mission: To strengthen service systems to ensure that children with disabilities (birth through 5 years) and their families receive and benefit from high quality, culturally appropriate and family-centered supports and services.

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative ServicesThe Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is committed to improving results and outcomes for people with disabilities of all ages.

The Office of Special Education ProgramsSupports numerous programs that improve results for children.

Parents Helping Parents (PHP) Parents Helping Parents (PHP) provides lifetime guidance, supports and services to families of children with any special need and the professionals who serve them.Parents Helping Parents (PHP) provides lifetime guidance, supports and services to families of children with any special need and the professionals who serve them.

Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights (PACER) The mission of PACER Center (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) is to expand opportunities and enhance the quality of life of children and young adults with disabilities and their families, based on the concept of parents helping parents.

The Sibling Support Project The Sibling Support Project is a national effort dedicated to the life-long concerns of brothers and sisters of people who have special health, developmental, or mental health concerns.

Shriners Hospitals Children up to the age of 18 with orthopaedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate are eligible for admission and receive all care in a family-centered environment at no charge – regardless of financial need.

Starlight Foundation for ChildrenDevelops multi-media and technology projects that empower seriously ill children to deal with the medical and emotional challenges they face on a daily basis.

Through the Looking GlassThe purpose of the National Parent-to-Parent Network at Through the Looking Glass is to connect parents, as well as those who are considering becoming parents, with others who may have shared similar experiences or faced common barriers as parents with disabilities.

U Can DoA site that emphasizes what you can do, not what you can’t. Promotes ‘ability awareness’ to help kids focus on what is possible, regardless of their challenges.

YahooligansBig list of links for all sorts of kids’ sites, including tons of places to go for games, sports, TV and movie stuff.

Paralysis Resource Center The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm ET. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

Reeve Foundation Online Paralysis Community Connecting people living with paralysis, families, friends and caregivers so we can share support, experience, knowledge, and hope.

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The Reeve Foundation Paralysis Resource Center Information Specialists are reachable business weekdays, Monday through Friday, toll-free at 800-539-7309 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Eastern U.S. Time. International callers use 973-467-8270. You may also schedule a call or send a message online.

This project was supported, in part by grant number 90PR3001, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. 20201. Grantees undertaking projects under government sponsorship are encouraged to express freely their findings and conclusions. Points of view or opinions do not, therefore, necessarily represent official Administration for Community Living policy.