In the span of 15 months living at Woods Services, Stephen has lost 70 pounds, learned to read, and completes four-digit math addition problems. Oh, and Stephen is no longer shy - he will be the first to tell you how much he has achieved.
At the age of ten, Stephen became the youngest of the boys living in the Maplewood residence at Woods. Those living in Maplewood are diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome—a complex genetic condition. Affected individuals develop an insatiable appetite and chronic overeating that results in rapid weight gain. People with Prader-Willi Syndrome typically have intellectual disability, learning disabilities, or behavioral problems.
Stephen, diagnosed with moderate intellectual disability, was obese and reserved when he arrived at Woods. “He wasn’t motivated to do anything. It took some time for him to adjust to the routines of our building and the 1,000 calorie-a-day diet,” said Kabine Kaba, his client care worker. Once he became comfortable, he rapidly lost weight, became physically active, and started learning in school.
Stephen has done so well with his diet and exercise, he is now allowed 1,500 calories a day. His exercise routine includes 30 minutes of treadmill work 3 times a week, and group exercise for 30 minutes 2 times a week. He often challenges staff to compete in pool and fooseball and wins more often than not. “The fact that Stephen initiates physical activity is considered a major accomplishment,” said his program specialist, Priscilla St. Peter.
Academically, Stephen is every teacher’s dream. He loves math and is accelerating quickly. Before coming to Woods, he couldn’t read at all. By learning site words, he now reads full sentences. His teacher, Pam Stead, says “Stephen is cooperative and helpful and doesn’t require prompting to stay on task.” He loves working on the computer, and knows how to navigate on line to find the sites where he plays math games.
Everyone who meets Stephen immediately becomes his friend. He is expressive and caring and wants to know as much about the person with whom he is speaking as they want to know about him. He has quite a few interests that include playing Uno, video, and computer games, watching the “Texas Walker” television show, and singing. He performs with the school choir and often serenades his staff and friends with songs in Chinese following lunch in the school cafeteria.