Baylor Our Children’s House celebrated its new facility at 1540 N. U.S. Highway 77 with an open house held late last week.

In following a luau theme, the activities at the event included an octopus ring toss, a limbo game and a room where children could have their photograph made in a grass skirt with a beach background.

Other highlights of the party included a visit from the Chick-fil-A cow, face painting and temporary tattoos, goody bags for all and plenty of refreshments. Outside, children rode the kiddie train and jumped in the bounce house.

“This new facility allows us the opportunity to see more patients and we’ve been welcomed so warmly by our community to the new sight,” said Chris Healy, marketing consultant for the facility.

One of eight Baylor Our Children’s House locations in the Metroplex, the new Waxahachie site includes a low-stimuli room for infants, a physical therapy gym and rooms for occupational, feeding and speech therapies. Nutrition services are provided by a dietician who comes to the facility once per month. Baylor Our Children’s House also has a behavioral psychologist on staff whose work complements the feeding program. Clients participating in aquatic therapy do so at Baylorworx, which is located at 507 N. U.S. Highway 77.

“We are so thankful to Baylorworx for providing us with the opportunity to use their facility for aquatic therapy,” said physical therapist Jill Buie, who has been a part of the Baylor Our Children’s House staff since its opening in 1995.

“We use aquatic therapy to help with strengthening, balance and sensory integration. It would be beneficial for the treatments of several different diagnosis, including but not limited to cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, autism and Down syndrome,” said Buie, who added that Baylor Our Children’s House in Waxahachie is one of only two locations to offer aquatic therapy.

Twelve years ago, Buie said she saw a need in the community.

“I saw a need for pediatric therapy in our community because families had to drive to Dallas for outpatient pediatric rehabilitation,” Buie said. “We’ve grown so much. When I started we had one physical therapist, one occupational therapy, one speech therapist, an office manager and a therapy tech.”

Baylor Our Children’s House now employs three physical therapists, four speech therapists, three occupational therapists, two office personnel and one therapy tech.

“We just outgrew our old space,” said Kristi Broekhove, also a marketing consultant for Baylor Our Children’s House. “The need for this new facility was so great. We have clients who travel from Hillsboro, Waco and Midlothian.”

One of the therapies offered, for which there seems to be an ever-increasing need, is feeding therapy.

“There is a growing population of children who need feeding therapy due to either prematurity, autism, spectrum disorders or sensory processing disorders,” occupational therapist and clinical manager Stephanie Patterson said.

“We help premature infants transition from a feeding tube to a bottle. We help some older children transition from feeding tubes to straws,” she said, listing some possible signs a child may need feeding therapy.

“A 3-year-old that’s eating only five items (foods and beverages), a child who drops solid chunks of food while chewing, children with excessive drooling and those who won’t drink from a cup might also be candidates for feeding therapy,” she said.

Unlike some other available services for special needs children, Baylor Our Children’s House offers therapy for children beyond the age of 3.

Waxahachie resident Amanda Horton is the mother of five and two months ago, her 4-year-old and 1-year-old became clients of Baylor Our Children’s House.

“It’s a wonderful, caring place. I’m thankful to have (the therapies) in a central location,” said Horton, whose youngest receives three types of therapy: speech, occupational and physical therapy. Her oldest child receives speech therapy.

“I think it’s wonderful that we have therapy available in our town and don’t have to travel to Dallas,” added her husband, Darrell Horton.

Staff members said they were pleased with the turnout for the event.

“It was a great kick-off for a great new facility,” Broekhove said. “It was highly attended by clients and professionals from the local community.”

E-mail Jennifer at Jennifer.howell@waxahachiedailylight.com