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Woman’s DVDs help children of varying abilities learn

CARLSBAD — New businesses open every year, but it’s rare to have one open its doors because someone’s child was their inspiration. 

This happened to Lucile Hooton Lynch.

Lynch, whose son Connor was born with cerebral palsy, made the decision to park her legal career as a trial attorney and co-founded Steps4Kids, a production company that creates award-winning educational DVDs for children in pre-kindergarten up to elementary school.

The instructional videos set kids up for success in areas such as learning the alphabet, math, writing, drawing and much more.

Lynch, also the owner of Steps4Kids, lives in Carlsbad with her family and calls Connor her miracle baby.

“I became pregnant after being told I could not get pregnant and then I unfortunately developed something called the HELLP syndrome, which required for my twin boys to be delivered early,” said Lynch, 51. “When Connor was delivered, he was only 24 weeks and 15 ounces.”

Connor was given less than a 5 percent chance to live. Now, he is 14 years old.

Lynch credits her son for being one of the toughest little guys she knows.

“He made it through all his medical challenges, including over 13 surgeries and procedures but has always kept a smile on his face,” she said. “He has a heart of gold, much like my husband.”

As Connor grew older, his cerebral palsy and focus issues affected his writing skills.

Because he enjoyed television, Lynch got the idea of using it as part of his learning tool. Her first homemade video popped up in late 2004.

Lynch researched video modeling and discovered how it helped with learning and retention.

“I filmed myself writing letters using the ‘point of view’ perspective,” she said, adding that she tried a few letters and her son grasped it.

Lynch then did the whole alphabet.

While Conner watched the DVD and practiced his letters, she didn’t expect her other twin son, Chase, to do the same. Eventually, Chase did so well he earned a handwriting award at school.

Following that, Lynch made more homemade DVDs in areas such as spelling, reading, how to make the bed, and so on. The spelling DVD is Connor’s favorite.

“For example for the word ‘catch,’ I filmed him and his brother throwing the ball back and forth five times as they spelled the letters to help visually demonstrate the word as well as teach the word using auditory support,” she said.

When Lynch discovered that both her sons were benefiting from the DVDs, that’s when the idea of a business percolated. Her DVDs could help developing children and those with special needs.

Steps4Kids, based in Encinitas, opened in 2005.

Lynch taught herself how to use a camera, graphics, film editing software and website coding.

Her support network included her husband, sons and mother.

Lynch’s husband, Brian, describes her as relentless. “Once Lucile makes up her mind to do something, I guarantee it will get done. She is one of the smartest and most creative people you will ever meet and when you combine that with her relentless determination, good things happen,” Brian Lynch said. “Once she realized there was a need for instructional DVDs to help children of all abilities, she put her head down and got to work.”

Now, her products are sold in the U.S., Canada and Singapore.

Steps4Kids has also received numerous awards from Creative Child Magazine, Dr. Toy, Booklist Online and more.

Its most recent accolade was “DVD of the Year” for its Steps4Kids to Draw by Creative Child Magazine.

“Creative Child Magazine’s Awards Program is unique in that all products submitted are reviewed by moms, music educators and early education professionals,” said Diane Morse, operations director at Creative Child Magazine. “Steps4Kids and Lucile are terrific and I am glad to see the company grow.”

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sandra probert August 28, 2012 at 6:01 am

Great practice for children with disabilities however as a retired teacher by having specific dads for disabled you are again categorizing these children. My son had CP and I want him to do what the Norm does if there is a norm. Sandra

Gina August 28, 2012 at 8:29 am

I disagree my daughter has CP and it is not categorizing her to say it. I wouldn’t pretend she was tall enough to reach the top shelf if she was 4feet tall just to avoid people calling her short. We should accept and embrace and accept our differences and not calling it what it is dosent make it go away. I applaude this mom for her ingenuity and persistence.

Lucile Lynch August 31, 2012 at 7:29 am

We made a decision years ago to share the CP diagnosis with others as we believed it would help him and also enable our journey to help others. This type of decision is a very personal decision and may not be right for others. Children who have physically noticeable disabilities are categorized regardless of their dx simply because they look different. In our experience, being open about it has helped to avoid him being placed in the wrong category which can sometimes be more detrimental. We have not found that it has unfairly categorized him but have found instead that being open about it has helped us to connect with other families with similar issues, helped him better understand why certain things are more challenging for him so that he can better understand what he needs to do to succeed, has helped others better understand him and his needs so that they know what to do to help him be successful, and of course has helped us to obtain services for our son. Just about anyone who knows us will tell you we are ardent advocates for our son and that we never accept low expectations for him that may be unfairly set because of a stigma attached to a diagnosis. As a trial lawyer by background I fortunately have the skills to help make sure that those in his support circles have only the highest expectations of him. As a parent I fortunately have the determination to make sure that he meets those expectations! 🙂

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