Bridget has this super cool friend, Charlie. Charlie is awesome. He walks her to class every day. He watches out for her at parties. Charlie is the boy that if Bridget was a typical second-grader I would be joking with his mom that I hope he stays sweet and takes her to prom one day. Continue reading
When your child is diagnosed with cancer, mental illness, a Syndrome, ADHD, Autism, (put your child’s struggle here) or PACS1 a parents first thought is usually a variation of HOLY CRAP to what the heck do I do now?
The truth is, there is no road map to parenting a child who has more than typical needs.
- Whether it is learning that your child is not suffering from normal teenage angst but a serious mental illness.
- Whether it is learning that your child just isn’t making milestones but is seriously behind their peers
- Whether it is learning the worst news a parent can receive, that their child may have a terminal diagnosis
- Whether it is learning that your child has ADHD, something too many people think is a made up word for bad parenting
- Whether it is learning that although you always fed your child healthy meals, that child is now bulimic or anorexic
- Whether it is learning that your child committed a crime, even though they are a straight-A student
- Whether it is learning that your child was killed in a drunk driving accident, even though they were sober in the car
When a parent learns any of the above (or worse), that is sometimes all they learn. They may be given a pamphlet of with website information. Their child may be placed on medication. Yet from this moment on, that parent is facing the battle to have their child survive without any clue of how to start. Continue reading
This is the face of a preexisting condition:
It’s a pretty face. I think it is the most gorgeous face in the world. I remember looking at this face and thinking how beautiful, simply beautiful my child was. What you do not see at first glance is this picture was taken at Children’s Hospital. This was Bridget’s third month of life and third hospital admission, after five ER visits.
This picture represents the face of a preexisting condition. Continue reading
To those in our Government that stood up against the repeal/replacement of the Affordable Care Act, I thank you. Even if it was for a reason I do not support. The work to save our system is far from over.
I’m not quite sure why you thought this would be easy, any of you that are for or against the Affordable Care Act. Let me debunk a few myths: Continue reading
Dear Teacher and/or Educational Support Personnel,
You do a wonderful job of caring for our children. You nurture them. You hold a parent’s expectations in check. You challenge the child and keep the parents honest. Yet sometimes in your quest to be empathetic to our families, your kindness becomes a falsehood. Especially for parents whose child has a special need. You try to understand how difficult our life can be. You want us to focus on the positives, the milestones that are achieved and the goals that are finally captured.
You also lie like a rug. Continue reading
On April 30, 2017 during our PACS1 Family gathering we were so thankful to have Dr. Wendy Chung join us for a mini-conference. Dr. Chung is a geneticist from Columbia University in NYC. She works with Simons VIP to provide families access to research opportunities, support and information.
Initially, Simons VIP focused on certain copy number variants associated with autism. They have expanded their research to include a wider variety of genetic events that cause neurodevelopmental disorders, (like PACS1). The main goal of Simons VIP is to help provide treatment and care by identifying the genes that cause medical, cognitive and intellectual disabilities.
I’m finding it difficult to put into writing. Go figure, here is usually where I just let it all out. Last weekend our family traveled to Virginia to meet our PACS1 family. The weekend should have been an absolute disaster. We had 14 families traveling from around the world.
One PACS1 family traveled from Australia. The trip with their 2-year old son took 36 hours and upon entering the lobby the poor thing suffered a seizure. Being PACS1 parents meant that while the dad checked in to the front desk the mom gave medication and handled the situation. I’m sure the front desk clerk almost puked in her mouth. But PACS1 parents continue on with their lives.
Another child began vomiting and had to be admitted overnight. Again, the PACS1 parents handled the situation. One stayed at Busch Gardens with the older sibling while the other parent handled the ER. Then they switched off.
The hotel messed up 5 of the 14 reservations. Again, some would have thrown their hands in the air and gone home. Not our PACS1 families. We traveled from 4 countries to be together. Three families traveled from Texas. One family drove from Michigan. Two families from New York and another two from New Jersey. A family crossed the border from North Carolina, while still another flew from Kansas. A newly diagnosed family from Ohio was lucky when one parent couldn’t make it a friend said I’ll drive with you and became our weekend photographer. Bridget met her new best friend from Tennessee. Families from the US, Canada, Australia and Spain. Oh and our family from the Cape.
It was different than I had expected but so much more than I could have imagined.
It should have been an epic failure, but it was more awesome than I can fully describe. Continue reading
A parent walks into the store, dragging her child kicking and screaming as other shoppers look on. A sibling walks into the store and says, “next time I will babysit so you can try to get the shopping done”.
A parent answers, “What time is it” for the 500th time with patience that is waning. A sibling tries to redirect the looping by distracting them with Disney Jr.
A parent tells her other child that they cannot attend the school play, because their sibling cannot handle the lights and sounds. A sibling whispers they understand while their heart is breaking. Continue reading
I love being a member of the PACS1 family. Our small group has grown from 14 families to over 40. Our most recent adoptee asked a reasonable question: “all these young children…I am wondering why it took so long to diagnose X”. This mother has searched for over 13 years for an answer to what made her son unique.
Why does it take so long? Continue reading
I do not consider myself an athlete. I have never pushed Bridget’s older sister to compete, join a team or do anything but follow her passion. I do wish her passion wasn’t horses or adopting every stray animal, but I have been perfectly happy not having to sit on the sidelines at some cold and rainy soccer field.
It is easy, with Bridget, not to worry about typical events in children’s lives. We have been so busy trying to make Bridget verbal and a member of society, we can forget to expose her to normal, run-of-the-mill life experiences. Recently her SPED teacher told me that she thinks that parents with children who have disabilities forget to do the normal childhood fun, like sledding or skiing or just playing outside. I tried to explain that, for me, having faced failure before it makes me less likely to try again. It is definitely easier to just let her watch her I-Pad then to continue to expose her to experiences that are going to make her cry. Last year we tried basketball, epic fail. We tried soccer and watched our little girl happier sitting on sidelines than kicking the ball.
Yet, I do not want Bridget to sit on the sidelines of life. My entire goal with Bridget is to make her a functional member of society. I want her playing with other children, not lost in the world of videos. Lucky for me our town recreation department is making a concerted effort to work with Special Olympics. For the winter they offered bowling. We talked it over and felt, well she won’t get knocked over by her teammates, let’s give it a try.
She loved it. I mean loved it more than Fig Newtons kind of love. She might win the World Record for slowest bowling ball down an alley, but she had so much fun!
The next day she walked into her first grade class and actually shared what happened during circle time. “I go bowling with J”. Her teacher told me that Bridget’s excitement was beyond measure. Bridget articulated her story and added to the classroom activity. Bonus, she retained what happened and will tell anyone she comes into contact with how she went bowling.
This is something we can do as a family. Bowling is not only accessible it does not need to be adapted for Bridget to access it. Except the gutter guards, but even I would benefit from that help.
I always want to have Bridget access “typical” experiences. Special Olympics has taught me that by exposing her to adaptive experiences first she will have much more success.
I am incredibly thankful to the Sandwich Recreation Department, their partnership with Massachusetts Special Olympics and for the generosity of Ryan Family Amusements for donating the lane time to let “special” families feel typical for a few hours on a Saturday.