Meyer Center for Special Children: Every Child Matters

On Christmas Eve 2009, Amy and Chris Hibbs brought home their 4 week-old foster son, Caleb, from the hospital. “From the moment I saw him I knew that Caleb would become part of our family,” shared Amy. “Our daughter, Emily, was five at the time and we were ready for another child.”  At 11 months old, the Hibbs’ were able to make it official and they adopted Caleb. They had no hesitations and lovingly welcomed him into their family.

Amy and Chris are remarkable parents. They understood that Caleb would require a different level of commitment, since he faced many obstacles. His first challenge was going through the difficult withdrawal process – you see, he was born with opiates in his body. Next he was diagnosed with severe development delays and began physical, occupational and speech therapies at two months old. He was then diagnosed with cerebral palsy at six months old. And finally Caleb was diagnosed with Careza’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes intellectual disabilities.

Caleb did not begin walking until he was 3 and to this day he is essentially non verbal. At 3 he began attending public school in Kentucky where the Hibbs lived at the time. Each day when Amy picked him up from school, she dreaded being called into the office to hear about the day’s problems. School was frustrating for Caleb.  He was unable to communicate and express his wants and needs.  Communication often involved biting, pinching, and aggression as a means to express himself.

Caleb’s behavioral issues were a problem. So when the Hibbs family considered moving to Greenville for a job opportunity, they were extremely apprehensive. It is difficult to uproot a child like Caleb from the vast array of providers and services they require. They feared that this disruption would not be good for their young son.

Fortunately, the Hibbs were introduced to the Meyer Center for Special Children when they decided to make the move. They first scheduled an evaluation. Caleb qualified for admission and was placed on the waiting list and began in May 2014.

The Meyer Center has made all the difference for the Hibbs family. Its unique interdisciplinary approach delivers high quality education and proper therapies that have put Caleb on the road to success. Amy loves that the therapists and teachers work together as a team. “The therapists are there all day and they see Caleb when he arrives on the bus and when he is on the playground. They communicate daily with the teachers to determine how to make Caleb successful in his classroom and his school,” explained Amy.

When Amy had her first parent meeting she was overwhelmed. “It was a very emotional experience for me. As I listened I realized that the teachers and therapists saw Caleb as a real person. They focused on what he could do, not what he couldn’t do. They knew how to motivate Caleb and were willing to figure him out.  They were determined to create an environment that facilitated growth and development at his own pace,” she shared.

Over the past year, Caleb has made great strides at the Meyer Center. Each morning he is excited to get on the school bus. He thoroughly enjoys being at school and looks forward to spending time with his best friend, Cory. And he is making great progress with all of his therapies.

The Hibbs family’s quality of life has improved dramatically as well. Caleb can now play outside with his sister, Emily, and other neighborhood children.  His communication frustrations have changed from aggression to learning how to take turns and being an active part of the group. His sister is very proud of him and someday hopes to be a special education teacher to help others.

To top it off, Caleb now has a one-year old brother, Luke, whom he adores. He understands that he must be gentle with him.  And amazingly, as Luke hits developmental milestones they offer opportunities for Caleb to learn too!

Caleb is perhaps the happiest person in the world. His infectious smile and his free-spirited nature touch everyone that he meets. The Meyer Center has opened up a whole new world to him and his family.

For more information about the Meyer Center for Special Children and its programs visit www.meyercenter.org or call 864-250-0005. On December 2, 2015 attend the Center’s Ladies Holiday Luncheon at the TD Center.  This annual event brings together more than 1,000 Upstate women to build awareness and raise support for the Meyer Center.

Debbie Nelson

Debbie Nelson is the president and founder of DNA Creative Communications, a woman-owned public relations and inspirational marketing firm for nonprofit organizations. Under Debbie’s leadership, in 2010 DNA founded Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums, an annual training program for Greenville nonprofits in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greenville County, the United Way of Greenville County and the Hollingsworth Funds. To support other nonprofits across the state, she also manages education programs for the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organization. As an a advocate for the nonprofit community, each month Debbie shares nonprofit stories in her Shine the Light columns in the Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Monthly. In addition she teaches nonprofit marketing at Clemson University to inspire and develop future nonprofit leaders. Debbie is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Leadership South Carolina and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative. She currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, the United Way of Greenville County and the United Way Association of South Carolina.

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