A mother's worst nightmare
Like most expectant mothers, Debby Johnston looked forward to holding her newborn son, Travis, in her arms. But Debby's dream was quickly shattered when Travis suffered a stroke at birth. With no oxygen going to his brain, doctors had to work quickly to stabilize him. Only three hours after he was born, Travis was rushed to intensive care, where he remained for six weeks.
The therapy begins
When Debby was finally able to bring Travis home, his right hand was closed in a fist. Debby knew her son needed therapy, but was unsure of where to go. Initially, she contacted United Cerebral Palsy. With their help, Travis began occupational, physical and speech therapy. Because he could not walk, both of his legs needed to be placed in casts. It was then, at the age of one, that United Cerebral Palsy recommended Debby visit The Children's Institute.
A fast learner
"When we arrived at The Children's Institute, I knew immediately this is where I wanted Travis to be," said Debby. Unable to walk or talk, the team at The Children's Institute determined that Travis would benefit from physical, occupational, speech and feeding therapy. Frustrated because he was unable to talk, Travis quickly learned how to sign.
Travis continued outpatient therapy with The Children's Institute until he was 10 years old.
A life comes full circle
Even with a learning disability and ADD, Travis attended and graduated from Point Park University with a BFA in Film and Video Production. As a freelance camera, lighting and sound technician, Travis has worked for The Discovery Channel, The History Channel and ESPN. He's worked on a number of feature films and as a stage hand for bands like Modest Mouse and Blondie. One morning, Debby received a phone call from Travis telling her that his life had come full circle because he was filming in the place that helped him the most — The Children's Institute.
To see a collection of Travis' video work for WQED, visit http://www.wqed.org/ondemand/pgh_insite/ and select any of the featured videos.
Travis credits his success today to the time he spent at The Children's Institute. "I know I would not be the man I am today without The Children's Institute. They always treated me like I was no different than anyone else. And they taught me I could do anything."