Caleb & Cali Montgomery and their mother, Amber Fitzgerald
Caleb and Cali—my reasons for living. They are the sweetest, most loving, amazing little people I could have ever dreamed of having for my children. They complete me in every way.
Caleb recently turned four. He loves Cars, especially Lightning McQueen and his friends. He loves numbers and knows 0-100; he’s also teaching himself addition and subtraction on his tablet. He knows all the letters of the alphabet, colors, and shapes. He loves puzzles and loves to challenge himself.
Cali is three. She loves animals, but she’s partial to cats and kittens. I surprised her with a kitten! She absolutely loves him. She has several cat and dog stuffed animals she carries around with her everywhere. She certainly knows her animal sounds! She also knows all the letters of the alphabet and her shapes. She loves coloring, painting, and playing with chalk.
Caleb and Cali love to run, climb, and enjoy going to the park. They also love to jump, especially on my bed! My kiddos are just regular amazing kids, but they struggle with verbalizing and communicating.
I had a normal pregnancy with both children. Each was born a few weeks early with no complications. Throughout infancy, and as they became toddlers, they were meeting many milestones.
Caleb was a year and a half old when the pandemic began. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, daycare closed. Caleb was talking and saying a few words such as “mama,” “dada,” “sissy,” “fish,” and “woof woof” (for “dog”). I did notice he would rock back and forth sometimes, but I thought, “He’s a kid, so no big deal.” Two weeks after the daycare closed, I noticed that Caleb stopped saying anything at all and would just make noises.
My mother encouraged me to reach out to DSC. I have a younger brother diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and he received services through DSC. I called and explained my concerns for Caleb. DSC set up a developmental screening. The results indicated Caleb may have autism. While we waited to receive his official diagnosis, Caleb was eligible to begin receiving services through DSC’s Parent Wonders program, and then began early intervention services to include speech and occupational therapy services, with Nichole, a Developmental Therapist, free of charge. When I heard there was no cost, I was very emotional and so relieved to know he could get the services he genuinely needed and deserved. I wasn’t sure I would be able to find the help we needed, let alone be able to pay for it. But DSC was there for us.
After Caleb aged out of early intervention, at three years old, DSC continued to help him be the most successful little person he could be. A therapist went to Caleb’s daycare once a week to help him in the classroom. DSC has been so helpful in every way. We were blessed with the most amazing therapist, Nichole. We couldn’t have asked for someone more caring, selfless, and genuinely wanting to help my kids, me, and families like ours. This past May, we received Caleb’s official diagnosis of autism. He continues to receive speech therapy, occupational therapy, and attends play group through DSC’s Early Intervention program.
When Cali was one, I started noticing she was not really talking either. I expressed my concerns to Nichole, and she scheduled a developmental screening. Cali’s evaluation showed similarities to Caleb’s, and she began speech and occupational therapies through DSC as well. I was elated Nichole was able to be both Caleb and Cali’s therapist.
Nichole has helped Caleb and Cali in so many ways! Verbal communication is very difficult for both Caleb and Cali. She has helped our family learn sign language! She has created vision boards to help with morning and afternoon routines. She also started a play group for the kids she works with to connect the children and parents. It’s amazing how much the play group is helping with Caleb and Cali’s social skills! I love to watch them playing and interacting with other children! And while the kids are playing, I am able to meet and share with other parents going through similar situations.
Nichole is a true inspiration, and we love her so much. She has truly been a blessing in our lives. She cares about Caleb and Cali’s future, and I now have a reason to be excited about their future! Nichole is just one of the many beautiful souls that work at DSC who are willing to hold your hand, empathize with you, and help you through your hardship because it does take a village. And DSC is my village. I honestly don’t know where we would be without DSC. DSC came into my life when I had nowhere to turn for understanding and guidance, providing the vital assurance all parents need to feel they are doing everything possible for their children.
Caleb and Cali are beautiful children that touch the lives of everyone who gets to know them. The services provided by DSC for children and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities give me hope that Caleb and Cali will continue to be supported as they gain their independence and live their lives full of joy and adventure. But this can’t happen without the community’s help. Before I had Caleb and Cali, I did not understand the scope of services this important community resource offers for so many families! I feel so fortunate to have found DSC and want everyone to know what a treasured resource they are for the community we call home. Please join us in donating to the 2022 Tree of Hope Campaign.
Please help light the way for our family and many others by making your Tree of Hope donation today!
Every year, DSC enjoys giving out awards to people and businesses in the community who have gone above and beyond with working with DSC and the people we serve.
Congratulations to the 36th annual award winners:
In recognition of their commitment to employ people with disabilities.
In recognition of his years of commitment to DSC.
In recognition of their commitment to DSC’s mission.
In recognition of her outstanding personal achievements.