A Second Chance
For most families, the birth of a child is a joyous occasion. For his family, Mikey’s birth was a day of emotional struggle, and fear of the unknown. Mikey was born dead. He was resuscitated and placed on life-support. The next day doctors encouraged his father, Mike, to baptize Mikey. They believed he would most likely not make it through the night, and if he did he would retain severe brain damage.
Mike, a 12-year Army Veteran, didn’t take those words lightly. It was his mission to give Mikey every opportunity to prove the doctors wrong. Mikey defied the odds and eventually came home. That’s when the real work began. Mike worked 12-hour night shifts, and stayed up all day to do physical and occupational therapy with Mikey, sleeping only when his son slept. Mike was trying to do it all for his family, but he was burning out. He needed help, and Easterseals was there to help him.
At first, Mike was skeptical. He was reluctant to trust the care of his son to anyone else, and was afraid that Mikey would be segregated or made to feel inferior because of his special needs. Mike visited our Child Development Center and saw our inclusive classrooms, where typically developing children and children with special needs learned and played together. He saw that Mikey could get both high-quality childcare and intensive therapy in one setting. After visiting, Mike said, “I respect Easterseals so much for the care they provide. I saw children that were perfectly fine and I saw children with severe disabilities, but I also saw that the care that they received was totally equal. No one says ‘normal or not normal’ at Easterseals. They are all just children.”
Since coming to Easterseals, Mikey has demonstrated dramatic improvements. He receives occupational and physical therapy twice a week and speech therapy once a week. He learned to crawl and then to walk. He has expanded his vocabulary and learned to share with his many friends. As Mike notes, “My son is loved at Easterseals.”