Our Love. Their Courage. A Donald Berman Center
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Yocheved“Before Yocheved joined Meshi, she was 100% dependent upon us. I was her chair, her table and her stander,” Yocheved's mother, Tehiya said. “Somehow we’d fallen between all the bureaucratic cracks, and we had no equipment at home whatsoever to support her limp body. From the start, Meshi lent us everything—a chair with special supports where she could sit and eat, a stander so Yocheved could play, special shoes, the TheraSuit, a communications board, and more. Most importantly, they provided support and guidance in every way imaginable.

“I see so much improvement in Yocheved’s eating and her speech. When the therapists called me to come see how she can sit for 10 minutes unaided on a bench, I was in total shock. But what thrilled me from day one was how the staff immediately recognized her total comprehension and related to her intelligence. I can’t express how much Meshi’s continuous support and cooperation mean to us. We’re no longer alone.   Our daughter is happy and loved, and she’s making small but steady progress every day.”

Sue Seela, Yocheved’s occupational therapist agrees. “Yocheved’s putting her heart and soul into this struggle, and we’re fighting right along with her. Freeing her to become as independent as possible, to use her sharp intelligence and express her winning personality is a gift that Meshi can give to this wonderful child.”

A smart and communicative 4 year old, Yocheved thrives on the company of her classmates and loves being in their presence.  However, the spastic athetoid cerebral palsy that struck her brain at birth has severely affected her body’s muscles, leaving her unable to sit, stand, walk independently, use her spastic hands, feed herself, or a host of many other basic functions.

At first Yocheved was taught at Meshi to communicate using her own personalized “communications board” containing pictures of the toys and games she could choose to play with. Although shecould not use her finger or even hand to point, she would shake her head to indicate her choice. Unable to hold the doll she chose, she would play “Mommy” by laboriously, painstakingly willing her spastic hands to grasp and squeeze chunks of clay to “feed” her baby.

Yocheved quickly learnt to express herself through the computer – starting with her basic needs, she then learned how to express her feelings, and eventually retelling of her experiences. She has even begun constructing complex sentences.

Yocheved's therapists took her one step further by installing 2 switches on her wheelchair – one under her chin as "enter" and the other on the ride side of her head acting as joystick.  Aided by these switches, Yochevedis now computer literate andcan use her computer independently.

With the beginning of this school year, Yocheved's therapists brainstormed - they recorded Yocheved's favorite storybook on her computer.  Using the switches close to her head, Yocheved was able to "read" herself the story, "turning over" the pages one at a time.  Her joy and self-pride were incredible to witness as she would "read" the story to her classmates during free time at Meshi.  With her peers surrounding her waiting to hear the next sentence, Yocheved's sense of being in control is the greatest gift she could have received!

After realizing the huge success, Batsheva – Yocheved's personal communicative assistant has continued to record additional stories according to Yocheved's choice.  As of today, Yocheved has 5 stories on her computer which she reads to her siblings while at home.  Her parents relate how this amazing achievement provides Yocheved and her siblings with a pastime and has resulted in a happier and more content child.

Previous Featured Children
At Ruchama Feldman's birth in 1996, the tiny, premature blue-eyed baby's serious injuries left physicians convinced that she would remain paralyzed and blind for life. Yet her mother Lifsha mustered the enormous strength to fight to prove them wrong, and to make every solitary effort possible to improve Ruchama's life.
When 4-year-old Chemmie--a sweet, blond-haired boy with a ready smile--entered Meshi three years ago, he could only lie on the floor. Stricken at birth by "Joubert Syndrome," a rare neurological disorder, Chemmie could do little more than cry.
Like any other sixth grader, Moishe G. carefully reviewed the PowerPoint presentation he'd prepared for science class, and corrected a last-minute spelling error. Yet unlike most sixth graders, Moishe is both blind and severely physically handicapped.
Three years ago, Mazal B. had four life and death decisions to make. Pregnant with quadruplets after years of fertility treatments and months of hospitalization, she tried to stand firm against her doctors’ constant pleas to carry out a selective reduction of the embryos.
Three-year-old, Hadassah S. is racing against time. The spastic athetoid cerebral palsy that struck her brain at birth has severely affected her body’s muscles, leaving her unable to sit, stand or walk independently, speak, feed herself, or a host of other basic functions.
Today, at age six, Erel is the uncontested star of his Meshi kindergarten class. Indoors, he walks independently with the aid of canes and a protective helmet, and outdoors he operates his power wheelchair with skill, precision, and great aplomb.
One of the first students in Meshi's fledgling kindergarten, and one of the most severely disabled of all. His progress over the years—an amazing, near-miracle of a breakthrough---is a testament to the extraordinary care,treatment, perseverance and love of the Meshi staff.
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