Editor’s note: Easy-going. Compassionate. Strong-willed. Adventurous. Helpful. Sensitive. One or more of these words may describe you. They also describe people with developmental disabilities. October is Community Awareness Month and the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities encourages everyone to get to know someone with a disability and ask “What’s Your Story?” Each one of us has a story and each story has the potential to educate and inspire others. “We invite you to enjoy a series of articles highlighting several families involved in our program who would like to share their story with you. Their stories are powerful, meaning, and inspiring,” said Superintendent Laura Zureich.
SIDNEY — Feanix Danner, 10, was just eight months old when she first started attending the Early Intervention program at Shelby Hills. At the time, the program was called Wee School.
“Feanix was shaken when she was six months old,” said her mom, Jacqualine Folkerth, of Anna. “My mom had her signed up for classes before she was out of the hospital.”
During her first classes, said Folkerth, she would just lay there.
“When she started rolling over, it was a milestone,” said Folkerth. “The people there (Shelby Hills) are just amazing.”
In addition to the physical therapy Feanix has received in the past 9 years, she has received help getting advanced medical supplies such as leg braces.
“She receives all three disciplines — occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy — from Shelby Hills,” said Folkerth. “They got a manual wheelchair for her when she started preschool. At that time, she was close to walking.
“Jeanne Holthaus, of Shelby Hills, pushed for a power chair for her. Now she can control the wheelchair on her own,” she said. “She got that before she went to kindergarten. The program is amazing.”
Feanix attended the early intervention program and preschool at Shelby Hills. She is now receiving school-aged services from the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities. She now attends Anna Elementary School.
Julie Winner is Feanix’s service and support administrator (SSA). She provides oversight, advocay and service coordination for Feanix and her family.
“Julie helped us get ramps for her wheelchair at our home,” said Folkerth. “She also got a lift for her. We have providers in place to help take care of Feanix. This helps me be able to work and take care of my two other children.
Folkerth said her son, Nathan, likes to take Feanix outside to play ball.
“Feanix likes to through things,” said Folkerth. “Feanix’s providers will change her diaper, give her a bath and get her ready for bed since I’m at work. I help her get ready for school and they (providers) are there when she gets off the bus. They help her eat supper and get her ready for bed.
“That has been a great relief to me,” said Folkerth.
Folkerth said Winner also provides support when she meets with school officials about Feanix.
“When we were doing cognitive screening, Julie helped me get that done,” said Folkerth.
Feanix also has epilepsy. She had surgery last summer to help with the seizures.
“The seizures and surgery have knocked her down a little bit,” said Folkerth. “She’s not as mobile as she was before. That’s when we got with Julie to get some medical supplies. She helped us with the ramp and lift for her chair. She’s helped us with all kinds of things. We;re in the process of getting a specialized bed for Feanix because she’s getting bigger and I can lift her as easily as I did before.”
Folkerth knows Feanix’s life would not be as enriched as it is now without the support of Shelby Hills and the Shelby County Board of DD.
“Her life would not be as good as it is without this program,” said Folkerth. “It provides help for us. I couldn’t go to work because I had no babysitter and I work second shift. It’s like a weight was lifted off my chest when the providers were found for us.
“She receives one-on-one attention from them. They have a very good personality and disposition with Feanix. I love the providers who help take care of her.”
Folkerth said both she and her daughter are still in a learning mode of what Feanix can and can’t do.
“We’re both learning what she can do emotionally and physically,” said Folkerth. “She says sentences and says a lot of work. We work on memory and word exercises. The providers help with that also and that helps Feanix a lot.”
Feanix has therapy during the school day, said Folkerth.
“During the summer there outpatient therapy that provides help with her exercise and therapy,” said Folkerth. “She has a stander that she uses and the providers also help with that. She’s doing strength training so that she can walk eventually.”
Early Intervention, Shelby Hills, and Community & Support Services are divisions under the Shelby County Board of DD. All three services have provided support for Feanix and her family.
“It’s awesome working with Julie and the program,” said Folkerth. “I don’t know where we’d be without them.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.