Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities


Mia Needles is now thriving thanks to support from MCBDD

When Mia Needels was born, she began an uphill battle. She weighed just over 4 lbs, had a heart murmur, and was experiencing difficulty eating and breathing. At two weeks old, she left the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. In the following months, she remained small and her heart murmur was still present. The Needels Family got answers when Mia was diagnosed with Williams Syndrome (WS) at 15 months. The genetic condition is characterized by complications such as cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning disabilities. Challenges with eating, sleeping, bathing, and more left the family exhausted after Mia’s first year. The Needels Family needed help, they found that from Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) and Marion County Early Intervention (MCEI). “I didn’t know where to begin to help Mia thrive, but once I got connected with Marion County Early Intervention, I felt like I had great people in place to help us succeed,” Mia’s mother, Rachelle, said.

After a detailed evaluation with MCEI and MCBDD, the Needels chose two specific goals for Mia: walking and language development. It took 16 months of physical therapy and 10 months of occupational therapy on a weekly basis, but Mia was walking independently by two and a half.

As Mia transitions into her next phase (preschool), Rachelle reflects, “We have become attached to MCBDD. We are grateful for the services we have received and know Mia’s progress has occurred with the love and support from the team who has helped us.”
Since 1967, the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities has operated as a county agency providing direct or contracted services. The Board provides many services and resources from birth to death for those who have a developmental disability. One of the many services offered involves connecting families with various therapies and organizations.


MCBDD helped young Micki find success through equine therapy at Providence Therapeutic Equestrian Center. Micki is a seven-year-old girl with autism. Often, she feels misunderstood, but with the horses, she finds comfort. “She’s always been fascinated with horses,” said Micki’s mother, Becky, “so when our Service and Support Administrator from MCBDD helped us get set up with classes through Providence, it was a dream come true.”

Equine therapy is more than horseback riding. Weekly lessons are provided by a certified instructor as well as other activities for children and adults with special needs. Equine therapy has been effective with improving communication, social, sensory, and motor skills as well as response to verbal cues and external stimuli. MCBDD has funded lessons for those who cannot afford it on their own. Services like this are unfortunately in jeopardy of disappearing due to lack of local funding. Micki is an example. Her therapy is now being funded through another avenue because MCBDD could not continue.

MCBDD has not passed a levy for new money since 1996 and the list of those served has increased substantially. Even with service and budget cuts, MCBDD desperately needs the community to stand behind the

m in order to continue to provide inclusion, advocacy, choices, support, and resources. MCBDD Superintendent, Cheryl Plaster reflects, “It’s the social responsibility of Marion County to provide support to and inclusion for those we serve. Parents, caregiviers and those we serve just want to be accepted and loved, and cared for – no different than you or I.”

To join the conversation, see the success stories, and learn more about your County Board of Developmental Disabilities, join MCBDD on social media, visit online at or contact the offices at 740.387.1035 or 2387 Harding Hwy East in Marion, Ohio 43302

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