For parents with a child with a physical disability there are many worries. Will my child walk? Will he be able to communicate? What care and therapy will he need? Will he be able to go to school? How will we afford the equipment he needs?
Children like Francesco, who entered this world at just 27 weeks with his twin brother, Daniel. Sadly, Daniel passed away the day after he was born. One week later, Francesco was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. As you can imagine, Francesco’s parents, Angela and Frank, were emotionally devastated and yet they remained hopeful for Francesco’s future.
Angela quit her job to provide Francesco with 24/7 care and dedicated herself to taking him to therapy and working with him to build muscle in his limbs. However, Angela and Frank were dealt another blow when, by age 3, Francesco wasn’t meeting the same milestones as other children his age. That’s when they learned from doctors that he would never walk. The fourth blow came, when Francesco was also diagnosed with autism and they were told he would never talk.
Luckily though, Angela and Frank are loving, dedicated parents. “It has been very difficult. We’ve asked ourselves many times, ‘Why us? What could we have done differently?’” says Angela. “Financially, it’s hard as well, but being off work has given me the time to look after the needs of my son.”
And, those needs are many. Even now, at age 10, Francesco’s fine motor skills are so challenged that he needs help with almost everything. Because of your support, Easter Seals has been there to help.
When he turned 4, Francesco’s parents made the difficult decision to send him to junior kindergarten, knowing that socialization and education were essential to his development and future. The problem: how to get him there? A custom van was beyond the family’s budget.
Easter Seals helped finance the retrofitting of the family van with a ramp, a device that can cost up to $32,000. What middle-income family can afford such an expense? It’s because of you, that we were able to help fund a portion of this vital piece of equipment.
The van ramp opened up new worlds for Francesco. At first, leaving the familiar environment of home to attend school was upsetting for both mom and child, but Francesco soon learned to love it. He is now in grade 5 and thriving.
With support from donors like you, Easter Seals was also able to help Francesco overcome one of his biggest challenges: communication. “The main thing I want for my son is for him to communicate, so he can express his feelings and his wants to other people, other caregivers,” Angela says with conviction.
To achieve this goal, Easter Seals covered the lease of an electronic communication device. The costly tablet-like device has become Francesco’s voice in the world, enabling him to express himself by pointing to images on the screen. He also uses it in school to answer his teacher’s questions and to comment about what he sees. “This communication device has meant the world to us,” adds Angela. “With it, we were able to realize that Francesco is a bright boy, and he understands what is going on around him.”
Donors like you enable Easter Seals to provide children with this type of support. As Angela says, “I want donors to know that what they give does reach the families and helps the children.”
Around this time of year, our concerns are focused on buying presents for our kids, our grandkids, nieces and nephews. But for many children like Francesco, their wants and needs are far simpler, yet harder to achieve. Instead of the newest Star Wars action figure, they just want to be able to get out of the house and to express themselves to their family.
Please donate today and help Easter Seals offer a better quality of life to kids with physical disabilities.
“I’m very fortunate, blessed, actually, because my son is a happy boy; he laughs a lot,” Angela reports. “And I thank all the Easter Seals donors from the bottom of my heart.” On behalf of all the kids you’ll help with your holiday gift to Easter Seals, thank you. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year.