I first fully became familiar with Athens County Board of DD services shortly after the birth of my first child, India. I had an emotionally painful pregnancy. We came horribly close to losing our daughter several times due to preterm labor. My husband, Todd, and I were elated the day we were able to bring our 26 week preterm baby home. However, this freeing sense of relief was soon interrupted by our growing concerns for the quality of life our daughter would lead.
India was officially diagnosed with cerebral palsy just under a year old. However, I enrolled in the ACBDD Early Intervention program within the first few months she arrived home from the hospital due to my mounting worry, as I became aware that her development was not unfolding as it should. This was by far the most heart wrenching period of my life. The world of disabilities was a scary uncharted path for me that often left me with feelings of incredible anxiety and lonely isolation. Fortunately, the Athens County Board of DD EI program gave me the wonderful gift of support, knowledge, and connection, which in turn helped give me the strength for my lifelong journey of advocating and searching for the best strategies to assist my daughter to reach her full potential. Early Intervention was so impactful in my personal life that I made the decision that I wanted to help others navigate the often scary, yet so amazingly enriching world of parenting a child with a disability.
I had the privilege of joining my daughter’s Developmental Specialist (DS), Mary Ann Smathers 17 years ago, as I became certified as a DS. I have worked for ACBDD for the past 14 years. I am passionate about helping others discover creative strategies to foster their child’s development within every day experiences. I am there to empathize with parents as they experience the heart breaking struggles their child endures. Yet, I am also there to truly celebrate the richness and joy their child emulates to all others around them. Disabilities cross all boundaries. I love working with a diverse group of parents and caregivers…listening to their stories and becoming a part of their journey. Hopefully, exchanging ideas with others has had the powerful impact on the families I serve as it has on mine!
India celebrated her 20th birthday last month, and she is attending Ohio University. She continues to have to jump huge hurdles every day. However, I am thankful that she had Early Intervention to help lay the foundation to build the skills and resiliency necessary to cope and often overcome obstacles along the way. My husband and I have two other wonderful children; Finnegan, 14 years and Piper, 9 years.