Why We Love Spirit!

Caroline Teixeira - Rider

Caroline was born on the night of a full moon, hence her Hawaiian middle name, Mehealani Theresa, (Theresa after her great grandmother). She seemed to be healthy and nursed immediately, but because of her facial appearance, the doctors thought she might have Down's Syndrome. Fortunately for us the doctor on call that evening sent Caroline's blood work to Baylor University for a complete FISH chromosome test. A month later the results diagnosed her with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS), a partial deletion of the 17th chromosome, estimated to occur in 1/25000 births. This information has proven to be priceless.

SMS has characteristics that identify with several different disorders, making it necessary for family, caregivers and educators to be familiar with all of these disorders, including autism, mental retardation, and ADD/ADHD. (Please see PRISMS, Inc. web site www.prisms.org for more information.) Caroline fits into all of those characteristics and more!

Caroline is now 11 years old and in a special fifth grade class. She is a very happy, healthy, social young lady, serving on the student Council and a s a part time Docent for the School's Biosphere program. She is looking forward to the 5th grade overnight field trip to Sea World. Caroline is well known in her community, at school, grocery stores, recreation centers, libraries, restaurants, you name it. Someone always knows her name! She is very lucky to have a loving, supportive family including a wonderful teenage brother, Charlie. Charlie is popular in his own right and helps to pave the way for Caroline's reception by people who might otherwise not understand her personality.

Caroline loves horseback riding and her weekly visits to Spirit Therapies. She loves to be with animals and people. Her communication skills are further developed by caring for the horses and interacting with Laurie Willmott, Executive Director, and all of the great volunteers, even the dogs and cats. Caroline likes the diversity of riding different horses every week. She gets to know their personalities and they get to know hers. She benefits therapeutically from her riding; by nature a toe walker, Caroline walks flat footed or "normal" and has a more relaxed disposition after her lessons. Her dream would be to someday have her own "Spirit Therapies" center.

Charlie thinks that since Caroline has been coming to Spirit Therapies, her behavior has definitely matured. Sometimes she will get upset at the littlest thing and she will go into a tantrum or "fit", which for some reason gives her super human strength. When this occurs my Mom and I can't control her or talk her through the situation. When Caroline does this it is hard on the whole family and when it gets really bad, my Mom will break down into tears of frustration. I prayed to God that someday the "fits" would stop. Now, after almost a year of going to Spirit Therapies, she behaves and is able to discuss her issues. Sometimes I will go and watch her ride. All she does on the way home is talk about how much fun it was and what she did that was exciting. Spirit Therapies has become the answer to our prayers.

Note: This article was written by June Winkler, mother and Caroline's brother Charlie, 13 years old.