Intense therapy and sacrifice keep family close
Meet the Nolasco Latshaw Family
When their daughter was a year old and not yet walking, Becky Latshaw, and her husband, Brent Nolasco, started raising concerns with their pediatrician about possible developmental delays. Only after little Althea started receiving therapeutic services with Easter Seals did they discover the breadth and depth of her needs. Sensory issues, especially with eating, noise overstimulation, low muscle tone, and a misaligned hip were among the challenges the family and Althea’s doctors and therapists agreed could be overcome with hard work and patience.
When she first began therapy, Althea, affectionately nicknamed Alfie by her family, was unable to walk or communicate and experienced long periods of distress. After three intense years of physical, occupational and speech therapy, Alfie is not only walking, but climbing every piece of equipment at the playground. “This weekend, she started to tackle the slide and ‘big girl’ swings,” Becky says. “She is proud, hardheaded and independent. It’s amazing seeing her catch up in big and little ways, and we’re celebrating every little thing.”
Brent, an artist, and Becky—who runs the kitchen at Daybreak at the Lehigh County Conference of Churches, a program that serves 25,000 meals annually to people in treatment for mental health, drug and alcohol and HIV/AIDS, as well as impoverished elderly—live in an apartment attached to her parents’ home in Salisbury Township with Alfie and their teenaged son, Jerome. “We said we’d sacrifice so that we could all be together,” says Becky.
The family receives services for Alfie in their home. Brent works in a home studio, which makes it possible to schedule providers. Becky hopes that, with continued progress, Alfie will start kindergarten on time at age five.
Though she has reached many milestones through early intervention, some of Alfie’s medical challenges remain a mystery, and require frequent hospital stays. When she’s well, the family spends lots of time together. During the family’s regular trips to concerts, Alfie dances and is the one who doesn’t want to leave before the music is over. “I never thought I’d be a parent of a sick kid,” Becky says. “So whatever gives her joy, that’s what we want for her.”