They say it takes a village to raise a child, and we're very lucky each and every day to live in a village that not only takes care of us, but loves our Grace as if she were their own.
But that quote takes on a whole new meaning for parents of a special-needs child. There are so many times that we can't do it on our own. And we're lucky to have a great team of people helping us to take care of Grace.
Some people call those helpers therapists, but for us, they are just part of our family.
Grace started therapy with the Early Intervention program when she was about 18 months old. She had physical therapy, occupational therapy and later speech therapy.
For months, these therapists came into our home, offering ideas and suggestions on how we could help Grace catch up on her developmental milestones. They not only provided expert advice, but also emotional support for us as we tried to navigate a world we didn't understand.
As Grace aged out of that program, we turned to a new group of people, who have been there every step of the way since before Grace was three. For those of you keeping track, Grace just turned seven this month, and we see these wonderful people every single week. They most certainly become part of your family, and I think they love Grace almost as much as we do.
Currently, Grace has physical therapy twice a week, once in Springfield with Amy at Kids at Koke Mill and once at RehabEdge with Dr. John Mekala. Although when we started physical therapy, we had hoped Grace would walk on her own someday, we continue to keep up our regimen. They provide lots of stretching and definitely keep an eye out for Grace on things we might be missing.
We also have speech therapy once a week with Teamwork Rehab at Hillsboro Area Hospital, and have been blessed by both Dana Holshouser and Lauren Fuller. Again, when we started, we thought Grace would be able to eventually talk, and even though we know that's not the case, these ladies help us keep an eye on swallowing issues, and bring sunshine to Grace's week, reading books and playing.
Most of these therapists saw Grace before we knew she had INAD, a terminal illness. They worked so hard to catch Grace up on her skills and loved her long before they knew she would never get any better. And even though we have seen these people for hundreds of sessions, I can still remember the session when we shared Grace's diagnosis. It was probably just as hard as telling some members of our family, because these people have always been Grace's biggest cheerleaders, devastated to know she would never make the progress we all hoped for.
But even though I remember those times so vividly, the level of care Grace continues to receive has never wavered. These wonderful therapists have never given up on Grace, even as they watch her skills disappear. It would be easy to tell us they couldn't treat Grace anymore because she doesn't make progress. It would be easy to put us off for other kids, who have a chance to get better.
But these dedicated people have been there on our Grace-Filled Journey every step of the way. They've cried with us during hard times and they've helped us celebrate the smallest milestones that most people wouldn't even think twice about. But most importantly to us, they never give up on Grace. Some days, Grace's biggest accomplishment is a smile, but that doesn't stop any of her therapists from working hard and encouraging her (and us) to celebrate all that life has to offer.