Craig family: Local nonprofit agency a benefit to families in need
December 12, 2011
Craig resident Steve Mudge on his son, Kelton, who recently graduated from Horizons Specialized Services' Early Intervention program for developmentally disabled children.
At first blush, Kelton Mudge appears to be just like any other 3-year-old boy.
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He's quick with a smile, loves to laugh and sing, and can invent new games on a whim, like "zipper coat" — zipping and unzipping someone's jacket to hear the funny noise it makes.
But, there was a time when Kelton's parents, Megan and Steve, worried whether their son would be able to lead a normal life.
"When he was born, they told us he wouldn't be able to walk or talk or do anything on his own," Megan said. "That he'd live in a vegetative state."
Kelton contracted hydrocephalus while still in the womb, which caused a grade three interventricular hemorrhage to the brain. He underwent two brain surgeries before he was a month old.
Kelton was also diagnosed with optic nerve atrophy at birth and lost the majority of his eyesight.
Rather than accept Kelton's preliminary diagnosis, Megan and Steve enrolled their son in Horizons Specialized Services' Early Intervention program for newborns to 3-year-olds.
The program is designed to help teach children with developmental disabilities basic motor skills such as crawling, walking, climbing stairs and how to communicate.
Occupational therapist Jodi Glaisher began meeting with Kelton once a week from the time he was 4 months old, Steve said.
"Jodi was amazing for us. There were a couple of times when she would just come over and talk," he said. "It was good to have someone around who understood children and how to work with them.
"Kelton still talks about her. She was very instrumental in his upbringing to this point."
Steve said Glaisher designed the work she and Kelton needed to do around play or fun activities.
"I like her, she's my friend," Kelton said of Glaisher. "We played together."
Considering Kelton's initial diagnosis, the progress he's made in the last three years is a testament to the work done by Horizons' staffers, the Mudges said.
"He's truly been a blessing to us because he has taught us so much," Steve said. "There are a lot of things that we took for granted."
Megan said Kelton graduated from the Early Intervention program in May. She and her husband continue to celebrate their son's small victories.
"We're pretty impressed with him because everything he does is new to him," Megan said. "He's just been an inspiration."
Now that Kelton is out of the program, Steve said the family is focusing on treating Kelton like any other child.
"That's the biggest thing," he said. "We don't want him to be any different. If you want something, you go get it. You don't ask someone else to get it for you."
Kelton, his parents said, is embracing his independence.
Horizons Specialized Services is currently in the midst of its annual Little Points of Light fundraiser.
For more information or to make a financial contribution, visit http://www.horizonsnwc.org, or mail checks to Horizons Specialized Services, P.O. Box 1483, Craig, CO 81625.
Joe Moylan can be reached at 875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.