Presley and Cole co-star in this year’s CVCDA Telethon poster

The 2017 Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) Telethon takes place Nov. 5.

This year, the CVCDA has selected two clients as “co-poster children” for the Telethon — Cole Josephson and Presley Gabriel. The following feature introduces Cole and Presley to the community.

•••

From shortly after her son was born, Cumberland resident Brenda Lenahan noticed he was a bit different.

While she describes him as a “super happy little guy,” Lenahan’s son Cole always seemed physically weak as a baby. He also didn’t crawl at the age babies typically start to do so.

“It was obvious he was different from most kids, so we were on a hunt to find some answers,” said Lenahan.

Then, about a year and a half ago, doctors at the CAUSES Research Clinic at the BC Children’s Hospital finally diagnosed Cole with MCT8 deficiency — a rare neurological condition experienced by only a few hundred people worldwide.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, MCT8 deficiency is characterized by “severe cognitive deficiency, infantile hypotonia, diminished muscle mass and general muscle weakness,” among other symptoms.

Now three years old, Cole still doesn’t speak and has limited physical abilities. He has a modified walker, bicycle and other gadgets that his mom can use to help him move around.

It was shortly after Lenahan moved to Cumberland last year from Tahsis that she got into contact with the CVCDA.

She said the CVCDA’s programming has been helpful since they arrived. Cole now sees a speech and language pathologist, an occupational therapist and a physiotherapist who work with him on a regular basis.

“They really helped us to acclimatize and served as a welcoming committee of sorts,” she said. “Our therapists also started doing home visits, which we had never experienced before, as we had been living in Tahsis and traveling to Campbell River for appointments.

“I think home visits are so nice when you have very young children with challenges.”

Through his regular therapy, Cole is now working on using eye gaze technology to learn how to communicate. He also recently started attending the Three Tree Early Learning Centre in Cumberland, thanks to help from the Supported Child Development program.

Lenahan said the CVCDA has helped “normalize” her situation.

“In early years, when you’re getting used to the diagnosis and having a child that is different, they’re the community that is hugely accepting of your child and helps you get through those early days of understanding this new world you’re in,” she said.

The CVCDA’s other Telethon poster child this year is Presley Gabriel, who is a member of the organization’s Autism Program.

Through The Autism Program (TAP), CVCDA behaviour consultants develop a personalized program for each student. According to the CVCDA site, “an autism interventionist leads each group with a focus on practicing activities to share with friends and learning the social skills to make and keep friendships.”

Presley, 18, was first diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in June 2009 after struggling with her school work. Her mother Angela said she started going to the CVCDA the following month.

“Since she’s started coming [to the CVCDA], she’s been a lot calmer,” said Angela. “She’s learned a lot of social skills and coping skills.”

Angela said the biggest change since Presley’s diagnosis has been her increased confidence in handling social and public interactions.

“She’s not afraid to ask a person working somewhere for help if she needs to find out something. She can order drinks by herself — she can order what she likes at Starbucks now,” she said.

Presley, who will attend the community living program next year when she turns 19, said she has many hobbies.

“I play video games, I draw and paint,” she said, listing Yoshi’s Island and Elder Scrolls as two of the games she enjoys playing.

 

Cole Josephson is one of two Comox Valley Child Development Association clients co-starring as Telethon poster children this year.

Presley and her mom Angela pose in front of the CVCDA. Photo by Scott Strasser.

Just Posted

Basket raffle a Comox Valley Child Development Association Children’s Telethon tradition

One-stop Christmas shopping with Winner Takes All Basket rffle

Comox Valley gives back

A look at some of the organizations and individuals who help out in the community

Golden anniversary for G.P. Vanier Thursday

It was a day of celebration for students, educators and administrators past… Continue reading

Comox Valley RCMP seeking witnesses of attempted sexual assault

The Comox Valley RCMP is looking for witnesses after an attempted sexual… Continue reading

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Comox Valley gives back

A look at some of the organizations and individuals who help out in the community

B.C. passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

Most Read