I am so intrigued with Ethan as I read about his life in his posts on Facebook. In his latest post, he shares his love for driving around the country and how he will soon begin classes to learn to drive commercial trucks. He has shared many of his accomplishments on social media, including his artwork, his passion for volunteering with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger, and his love for working at Albertson’s Grocery Store. He is one of our volunteers as he supports and mentors children with disabilities in our Inclusive Early Learning Center (IELC). I see in every post he writes or anytime I have a chance to talk with him that Ethan is full of hope and has a strong desire to achieve his fullest potential. Ethan Teicher has Autism, and he uses it to draw strength and inspire others.
Ethen is so committed and driven to achieving personal success that he had an award named after him for his dedication and perseverance with the Coronado High School Band. It is called the Ethan Teicher Hardworking Person Award. It is given annually to a band student at Coronado High School who exhibits the same work ethic and perseverance Ethen had when he was in the high school band.
He is 27 today, but he began his journey with us when he was a toddler. Pam Teicher, his mother and PdN Children’s Board member said Ethan was diagnosed on the autism spectrum over 25 years ago. “At that time, there was very little information about autism available, and we were desperate for answers and support,” said Ms. Teicher. “Fortunately, our pediatrician referred us to PdN Children’s for physical and speech therapy. We were very thankful for the loving care Ethan received from his therapists. As parents, we were treated with such kind regard, which was as an integral part of the treatment team. I truly believe this experience gave Ethan the helping hand he needed to be successful, not only as he entered the school system but also as he learned to navigate life as a child with special needs”.
We did not have an Applied Behavior Analysis Program (ABA) when we served Ethan. Gilda Gil, our Chief Operations Officer, recognized that many years ago when she was a line supervisor with our Community Resources Center (CRC). Gilda has a son who has Autism, and she had always wanted to find the best interventions for him. She learned about ABA services and knew that she was in a position to create the change necessary for our community. It took five years of research, learning different behavioral interventions, and looking for potential funders willing to fund a startup program. Gilda persisted, and in 2015, she applied to the state for funding to launch an El Paso ABA program. She succeeded, and today, PdN Children’s has the largest ABA program in the community.
“My experience with my son Gustavo motivated me to not only advocate for his needs,” said Ms. Gil, “but also motivated me to help parents in our community who felt just like me when I first started my journey. I feel so blessed that I work at a place where I could make that happen.” Because of Ms. Gil’s work, ABA interventions are provided to over 60 children with Autism in our community annually. Our program continues to grow to meet the increasing need in El Paso.
For over 70 years, PdN Children’s has been helping children with disabilities achieve their greatest potential by delivering various therapeutic interventions, specialized skills training, feeding and audio-verbal therapy, case management, family support, early learning programs, and much more. Our five divisions are Early Child Intervention (ECI), Pediatric Therapy Services, ABA, IELC, and CRC. Each division and program offers unsurpassed services in our community, resulting in over 1000 children with disabilities and their families receiving the interventions and support required to address their personal needs.
As the world was trying to figure out how to survive a global pandemic, our team continued to work hard to support children with disabilities and whose conditions had no respect for COVID-19. Rahja, a 4-year old boy, came to our Feeding Clinic two years ago. He had a severe feeding condition, and he was on a g-tube, and his parents were desperate for help. On July 7th, 2021, after just two years of therapy and services from the clinic, Rahja’s feeding tube was removed, and he gained the ability to eat normally. Dr. Aldo Maspóns, his Pediatric Gastroenterologist, told us that it typically takes children ten years to be weaned off a g-tube. Rahja has been discharged from receiving feeding therapy and is on his way to achieving his fullest potential in life.
Our vision is a world where all children thrive in an inclusive environment, recognized by their abilities and talents rather than their differences. The hope that Ethan shares, the passion that Gilda has to lead our team, and the promise of a life without disability that Rahja has gained demonstrate how PdN Children’s strives to achieve our vision and mission in our community.
Alfonso V. Velarde, CEO
El Paso, Texas