Massimo dares

“The dolphins and staff at Island Dolphin Care in Key Largo, Florida, have been with us for many years. After our first therapy in 2006, in which not only Massimo but also the rest of the family were challenged and supported, drastic changes quickly became apparent.

Due to his premature birth, Massimo suffers from infantile cerebral palsy with cognitive impairments, blindness and hemispasticity. Before the first therapy, he was reluctant to touch things with “special” surfaces, still wore diapers, spoke little, and barely used his left hand. He was 6 years old then.

During the three weeks at IDC, with the help of our fantastic therapists, especially Deena, we learned to have more confidence in the then small boy. He learned, especially through his dolphin therapists, what he could do independently. With the necessary rigor and a lot of empathy, we crafted, baked, and painted – with both hands. There was swimming and singing. The toilet training he began quickly led to success and gave him more independence.

We have returned many more times and have taken away a new insight, a new skill and wonderful memories from each stay.

Today, the now young man plays the piano with enthusiasm, sings along to every song on the radio, goes to concerts and enjoys traveling. Massimo talks a lot, moves freely in familiar surroundings and uses the toilet independently.

As a big sister, I was there for all the therapies. I have seen how self-confidence grows. The first time he swam all alone with a dolphin, I cheered. I sang poolside and applauded in the classroom when a project was completed. Our therapist always had an open ear or an idea for a solution to a problem. In this situation, you also felt seen and supported as a family member of a relative with special needs.

Even though Deena and Peter Hoagland no longer manage the facility and are now enjoying their well-deserved retirement, that family feeling remains when you arrive in the reception hall with the elevator. After the change of management, we were in the Florida Keys for the last time in 2023. As in previous years, we experienced motivated, warm, and creative employees and can recommend therapy at IDC without any reservations and wholeheartedly.”

Jessica Debole

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