Helping Valley area children reach their highest potential for over sixty years
By Annie Sykes
“It’s like a family there.” Talk to anyone involved with the Moody Clinic, a therapy center for children and longtime fixture of the Brownsville community, and you’ll likely hear this phrase. Over the past sixty years, the Moody Clinic has created a true bond with those it touches, the kind of authentic connection that public relations gurus only dream of. “The people there have a genuine passion for helping the children and families they see” says Ana Lozano, Moody Clinic board member and parent. “Just go visit the Clinic. You won’t leave the same.”
The Moody Clinic has been around since 1952 when a Brownsville woman whose son suffered from cerebral palsy grew frustrated with the lack of treatment options available. She spearheaded a clinic to help children with physical handicaps like her son. Fast forward over sixty years, and what began as a physical therapy clinic is now a comprehensive treatment center for all children with special needs. The clinic offers speech-language therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy. “Our goal is to help any child who comes to us reach their fullest potential in life,” says Debbie Sears, executive director and resident speech-language pathologist.
What does it look like to help a child with special needs reach their potential? It varies – on purpose. One secret to the Moody Clinic’s longevity is their commitment to serving children where they most need it. This is why on any given day in the Clinic, visitors may see anything from bike riding lessons to practising the “sh” sound to taking turns in a conversation. Take Arturo, a six-year-old Moody Clinic “regular” who was diagnosed with autism around age two. “When we first came to the Moody Clinic, Arturo couldn’t sit still, he wouldn’t make eye contact, and he wasn’t speaking,” says Arturo’s mother. “Now, he sits politely in the waiting room until he’s called. He can throw a ball and ride a bike. The biggest change is that he talks now.The difference is amazing.”
These days, the Moody Clinic sees many children facing obstacles like Arturo’s. Individuals with autism, a disorder of brain development, typically have trouble with social interactions and communication, and may show other developmental delays. And because autism is a spectrum disorder, it looks different in everyone. April is Autism Awareness Month. The Moody Clinic plans to celebrate by promoting understanding of this disorder that impacts so many of their patients. Debbie Sears recommends the website autismspeaks.org to any concerned parent. “Early intervention is critical. If parents have even the slightest worry, they should talk to their pediatrician as early as possible.”
Debbie’s concern for children and parents – even those who are not her patients – is typical of the Moody Clinic’s generous spirit. Until a few years ago, the organization was able to provide free services. Sadly, the past decade’s economic dip took its toll on donations to the Clinic, and they were forced to charge to keep their doors open. “We never turn families away” says Christine Cavazos, the Clinic’s development coordinator. “But we now ask them to give what they’re able, even if it’s as little as $5 per session.” Support from the Brownsville community still plays a key role the Moody Clinic’s continued operation. The Moody Clinic is a United Way agency, and organizations like the Zonta Club of Brownsville, the Brownsville Community Foundation, the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation, and the A&V Lopez Family have been longtime supporters. “We are infinitely grateful to the community for helping us serve the children of Brownsville,” Cavazos shares. “We’ve been around for over half a century, and we hope to stay for much, much longer.”
For over sixty years, the Moody Clinic has provided high-quality, low-cost therapy to more than 7,000 children. But what makes the Clinic truly a gem of the Brownsville community is not that it’s a good deal – it’s the big-hearted, family-like way they embrace their patients. The Moody Clinic’s tradition of helping Valley region children reach their highest potential looks like it will continue for a long time to come.