||A Celebration of Hope: Ella Stricklan
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) — For parents who have children with disabilities, the journey is never easy, but there's one place in northeast Mississippi taking away some of the pressure free of charge: The Regional Rehabilitation Center.
One of those parents is Elizabeth Stricklan. "She had stopped growing when she was in my stomach," Stricklan said about her daughter Ella. "By her measurements, she was three months early, but by my due date, she was only three weeks early."
Doctors said Ella would be premature, but they didn't know what developmental delays she'd have. "Because she had stopped growing, that stopped all of her developments," she added. "So when she got here, she was just a lot smaller than we have anticipated."
Her size required many doctors visits to make sure she was eating right, which then led to speech therapy, and just this summer they learned Ella has a mild case of autism.
"She was always behind, like learning how to sit and walk," Stricklan said. "She was always behind the other babies her age."
Ella has since finished speech therapy, but now, she's on a new journey at the Regional Rehab Center, where she's getting life-changing therapy.
Occupational Therapist Gretchen Brown works with Ella twice a week for about 30 minutes each session. To Ella, it's just play time, but the intervention focuses on her core problems, like social skills, language and communication, imitation and play skills.
"Gretchen puts a lot into that," Stricklan explained. "It's tough on Ella, but in the end, the results are well worth it, and Ella just thinks its play time. She knows we're coming to therapy, but she just thinks its play time with Mrs. Gretchen."
Ella's also learning to cope with sensory processing disorder, which Stricklan said has drastically improved since joining the center.
"Before we came, she would just have a meltdown and scream and cry," she explained. "I didn't know what was going on and of course she couldn't tell me. Now that Gretchen has been working with her, it's a big difference from before and now. She's able to communicate her feelings and put them into words."
The journey isn't over for Ella and her family; there's still a long road ahead, but Stricklan says the Rehab Center has made the drive just a little bit easier.
"I honestly don't know where Ella would be without the Rehab Center and Gretchen."
On November 30, you can help WTVA give back to Regional Rehab that has given so much to hundreds of children and adults across North Mississippi.
A Celebration of Hope will air live from the Mall at Barnes Crossing on WTVA and ABC WTVA from 1 to 3 p.m.