A Parent Shares

A Blessed Mom

First Step has been a blessing for our family. When our son, Jaxyn, was diagnosed with autism it felt like the world stood still. We had so many unanswered questions and felt helpless like we would never be able to communicate with or understand our son. The teachers and therapist at First Step have helped develop Jaxyn so much in the last two and a half years. He went from not speaking whatsoever to saying a few words here and there. His communications are still complicated but they are so much better than before he started at First Step. We are so grateful for the patient, kind, and loving people First Step put into Jaxyn’s life and we will be forever appreciative of the leaps and bounds they’ve helped him achieve. Thank You!

~Andrea Bolden, Jaxyn’s mom


A Parent Shares

A Thankful Mom

My 5 year old son, Eli Brizendine (pictured right), has been a student at First Step for just about a year now. He has always has been an extremely joyful child, but a little reserved around kids his age. Since starting at First Step, he has truly blossomed! He has gained so much confidence with all the positivity he’s surrounded by in class and with his therapists. He has made amazing strides with his developmental delay. A lot people couldn’t make out what Eli was trying to say before and now he can hold conversations with most people, and he sure loves talking to everyone! His physical and occupational delays are improving greatly as well. Our family is truly thankful for the loving environment and care provided to our boy by all of the staff at First Step, and can’t wait to see more great things happen for him in the next year!

~Kati Brizendine, Eli’s mom




A Grandmother Shares

                         A Grandmother’s Love

My grandson was 18 months old when he began therapy at First Step. He had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy due to premature birth. At this point he was at a 0 month level, his right hand was atrophied and he basically had little or no movement. He has been receiving therapy for almost a year and has dramatically improved. He can move all of his limbs, he can roll over, lift his head and hold it up. He is vocal now and tries to communicate, he is socially active and loves attention! He can reach for us now when he wants cuddles! I cannot sing the praises enough for the therapists and teachers at First Step. He is now at the level of a 7 or 8 month old. They showed us ways to help him at home and they even helped us get special equipment for him, and most of all Rhys loves them! He is always smiling and laughing with them! I do not hesitate to leave him with them because I know he is loved there. First Step has the most friendly, caring and loving staff you could wish for. We also have a three year old grandson receiving services and he has shown great improvement too.  Our granddaughter, who is five years old now, attended First Step for three years and just blossomed with their help and is no longer in need of any special services.

~Nancy Hazelwood, Grandparent


Miracle League of Garland County – Spring 2020 Season



The Miracle League of Garland County provides children and adults with special needs the opportunity to play baseball in an organized league.  Each player is paired throughout the season with a buddy who provides encouragement and assistance.

Registration is now open for players, buddies, and coaches!

Field location is 311 Wolf Dr. in Pearcy, AR.

Spring games are played on Saturdays starting April 18 through May 23.

Youth – 9:00 a.m.     Adult – 10:00 a.m.     Competitive – 11:00 a.m.


Register online at


Printable Google Form available at


Fee: $35   Deadline: April 1, 2020

Scholarships available to any player in need


Every player receives a jersey and hat


Fee: $0.00  Deadline: April 1, 2020

You can also register using the links above!


Hard Work Pays Off

Hard Work Pays Off

Rolling into work on his bicycle, Chian Gibson is ahead of schedule. He began work at Weldon’s Meat Market in Hot Springs in June 2018. The owner, Tom Starnes, stated, “Chian is very punctual. You don’t have to worry about him being here. For someone riding a bike, that’s saying something.”

Experiencing just a few learning curves, Chian is becoming a fine cook. Clint, his co-worker, said “He’s gone from hardly knowing anything to a really good worker. He reads recipes now. He comes in with a great attitude. He gets his groove going and is one of the faster workers.”

Tom said “He’s opened up. He was this quiet, little meek person, didn’t say anything. Now he’ll cut up and carry on. He’s quicker. He’s so willing to learn. Perfect? No, but he’s getting there.”

Weldon’s also offers up a variety of prepared casseroles and desserts. Chian prepares a number of those dishes including chicken spaghetti, his favorite. Tom said that’s his specialty. “He can make chicken spaghetti pretty awesome.” Chian keeps up with stock, needed ingredients grocery list, keeps a sanitary workspace and has learned to operate and reload the ticket machine.

Besides enjoying the work, Chian loves and is proud of being able to pay his bills on time and save some money. Keep up the good work, Chian. We like being able to brag on you!



Success Doesn’t Come Easy

Success Doesn’t Come Easy

From Employee of the Quarter to Assistant Manager, Larysha Mercer continues to prove her worth at Stage department store in Malvern, Arkansas. When Angel Overton became the new Store Manager, Larysha was in supervisor training. The District Manager saw it only a formality to move Larysha to Assistant Manager then. Angel stated, “She’s my right hand woman. By the time she got her code for alarms, she was ready.”

Asked about her new role, Larysha said, “What I always say – I love it! It’s not easy, but I like it. I enjoy it.” Larysha said the biggest issues are “having to resolve situations and telling people what to do and make sure they are doing it. Angel told me ‘You gotta learn to put your foot down. It’s not a popularity contest, not always going to like you’.”

Working with banking, deposits, the safe, payroll, scheduling, training, correspondence, solving problems and troubleshooting, Larysha has met the mark. Angel reported, “I mean she’s been a great success story. She’s had some difficult things to overcome to get where she’s at, but she’s done a great job. I said she would be good for the part and she is. She’s my support system. If I were allowed to give her more hours, she’d want them.”



Parent Testimonial

A Parent Shares~

Our son, Osvaldo, has been receiving services at First Step, Inc. since February 15, 2008. He is eleven years old now. His services have included day habilitation (pre-school), occupational, speech, and physical therapies and currently, school-based developmental treatment services. Osvaldo was born prematurely only weighing 3 pounds, 10 ounces at birth. His medical history is significant for RSV and ear infections. At the age of 3 months, he would make sounds and was weaned from the breast at 6 months of age. Due to complex medical reasons, he receives all of his meals via a feeding tube.

We would recommend First Step because it is a very good school for Osvaldo, and has access to the best resources available to help all children with disabilities. All of the staff are proactive in their treatment and provide everything necessary to meet the diverse developmental needs of the children. Also, every decision concerning Osvaldo’s treatment has been conveyed to us and meetings are held to discuss the best solutions.

We want to thank all of Osvaldo’s teachers, past and present, for their time and dedication to taking care of our son and for consulting with us on anything involving him. We want to thank his therapists for dedicating their patience to our son. Finally, we want to thank Ms. Alicia, First Step’s interpreter, for always being there for our son and us.


Osvaldo’s parents

Spanish Verison

Miracle League of Garland County

Meet Raylan

Meet Raylan~

     Raylan is a courageous four-year-old boy who has been receiving Developmental Treatment services at First Step close to a year now. Upon entering our program, Raylan scores showed significant developmental delays across all areas of development. Raylan suffers from anxiety attacks, and does not separate easily, and needs to be calmed down using calming techniques such as a calm voice, hugs, and accommodations in his environment. Raylan is in a classroom that is warm and welcoming. He has built rapport with the environment and can feel safe which has allowed him to learn. We have used social stories to help him know what to expect from the environment and changes to his daily schedule like when his teacher will be out for the day. We also have provided picture schedules to help him transition from center to center. He has allowed for peers to assist him in doing activities and he also now is volunteering some to help others. With the multi-team approach from parents, teachers, and therapists Raylan has improved and is happy to come to school most days and has built peer relationships.

~Casey Gardner, Developmental Treatment Teacher, DT6A


First Step’s Got Talent Coming Soon

Mark your Calendars!!