Breakthrough’s Story and Vision

Here at Breakthrough, we help children and adults with neurological diagnoses become as independent as possible by improving their mobility and building their confidence, for a better quality of life!

Christine’s Story

While I wish I could say I have a direct connection to the special needs community which drew me to serve this community, I have to honestly say I don’t know what did exactly. Although that fact, my life’s mission is to create a world in in which special needs families’ lives are positively impacted by supporting you all. It’s not just about the children, but its also about the siblings and the parents too. So, I’m determined to help you get the most for your child and to help them live their best lives - and yours too.

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Let me tell you about an experience that’s had a significant impact on my life. I was working my second job out of PT school with the special needs population and had an evaluation on my schedule for a little two and a half year old girl. Her medical history was complex, as she suffered a hemorrhage in her brain causing her to have Hemiplegic (one sided) Cerebral Palsy. This little one was so incredibly cute even if she didn’t want to use her left side of her body for anything. It was clear this little girl and her family needed help and as I took her through her evaluation, she CRIED. When I say that, I don’t mean she was just complaining and whining like perhaps a typical occurrence. It was a full blown hysteria. Boogers, tears, pouting, the whole deal. You get the picture, right? When I asked mom if she was in pain or maybe something scared her… she replied with tears in her eyes, “no, it’s just really hard for her to do this.”

I was taking her through the developmental sequence… trying to see if she would activate her left side to help her hold positions or get into positions herself. Just something like holding hands and knees was so incredibly hard for her. My heart physically ached for this mother and child. Mom was desperate to just help her daughter be the best version of herself, and this little girl was faced with challenges nobody should have to endure. I continued to get to see this little one in treatment sessions and each and every session there were tears. On several occasions, mom even had to leave the room because it was too hard to see her little girl struggling the way she was.

Soon she started to crawl. Then she started to stand. She started taking steps with a walker… always working for a purple lollipop at the end. I’ll never forget the day they came into the office and told me that they’d been practicing steps at home and she started taking a few of her own. So… we set her up with me behind her and mom in front for her by the musical drum she loved. She held two drum sticks in her hand for security and she took fourteen steps to the drum on her own that day.

Fourteen steps.

Those fourteen steps turned into infinite steps. A few months later, she gained the ability to get up from the floor by herself. Over time, those steps turned into dancing around to Descendants music, performing karate, and getting to run into mom and dad’s arms. It turned into her getting to be more independent than every doctor told her she would be. It turned into her living a better quality of life and getting to experience life in a while different way. Each and every moment was a celebration. All of that crying and struggle was part of the journey. How lucky am I that I got to be part of that?

This family has become part of mine and holds an extremely special place in my heart. It was one of the first times I got to experience many low moments with a family and work our way up to the highs and achievements. Watching this little girl work through so much helped me gain an entirely new perspective on the little things; the little things that we take for granted about our abilities every single day. She taught me to ask myself, what’s my purple lollipop? She taught me that I need to keep working towards my goals through all of the hard stuff to achieve my dreams.

And so to create these experiences and having worked in school and home therapies before, I knew that 30 minutes of services wasn’t enough to achieve outcomes. I wanted to provide resources for the entire family and most importantly, I wanted it to be more about the whole family and a journey, than it is just about physical therapy. The process of getting to where people want takes people you can trust, the purest intentions, and a whole lot of hard work.

Constantly people are creating limitations on these individuals and I want to create a space where people see the possibilities and create them for each family and this community as a whole all the while feeling supported.”

- Christine Astarita