New Education for Doctors and Parents

After Willowbrook was exposed, Teri established her program in the basement of a church for a couple of years until it grew so much she needed a larger facility.

Soon after, she formed Tottenville, which had been a fresh air camp that burned down and never re-opened. At first, the owners didn’t want her there until she wrote a powerful newspaper article stating how locals would rather have it turn into a shooting gallery than a school for disabled children. Needless to say Teri got the keys to the building.

Her program grew through word of mouth. Hunter College sent their people in to observe Teri and instituted a pre school program and Rutgers developed a speech program for tongue control and swallowing that we take for granted. It went to California, and India with some doctors who saw the program and were impressed.

Now there are many programs for Down syndrome children. Today, you can teach the children to read phonetically. In the past, the state sponsored schools were only available up until age 5. Teri opened her doors up to age 12 regardless of the amount of money a family had. She also instituted music therapy after finding these children could learn by music.

Common sense lead her to many other developments including the use of oxygen. Once, a pulmonary doctor told Teri her children were shallow breathers. Teri felt that the deprivation of oxygen was holding them back. Afterwards, the children performed so much better after being put on oxygen that all her boys are now on C paps at night. Damian, is 24 – 7 on Oxygen and has a 5.6 reading average. From the age 16, he’s been Oxygen dependant. 

Another example is back in the early 70’s, Teri went to a chiropractor to stimulate the children’s bodies and show them exercises to keep their tongues in their mouth. This also gave them better muscle tone. Teri was also the first to start a fathers group. In order to give the fathers support, she organized a card night where the men could sit and talk about their experiences.

Teri has been diagnosed with MS and is now confined to a wheelchair but can still train people who want to learn how to take care of Down syndrome children. Her condition sometimes worsens and at one point she lost the site of one eye. This puts high importance on the completion of the house so she can maintain the standards and quality of life she has set for her boys. 

One of Teri's goals is to develop her programs nationwide and show parents the infant program so they can be hands on and keep their children at home as she does.