My connection to people with special needs…
This is a rendetion of me lounging by the pool all alone!
I thought I’d be catching up with my best friend Khris who had just moved back to Midland, but she was in the pool helping her son so he could swim with all the other kids.
Honestly, it seems like she never gets a break, but she doesn’t complain.
When We Were Young
Growing up in a small town in West Texas had its advantages. Most teens were left to their own devices.
Granted, this was MANY years ago and things were different.
Khris and I took full advantage of this!
We were two of a kind – carefree, fun-loving, rebellious teenagers – out to have a good time in everything we did!
Connected at the hip we spent every spare moment together.
We shared our innermost thoughts & dreams. After High School we went our seperate ways but remained close and saw each other frequently. We formed a lasting friendship and supported each other through all of life’s stages.
On the day her son was born, Khris said her happy life was over. Spoken out of ignorance and fear they were words she regrets. Little did she know that a baby would teach her the true meaning of life!
Faced with having a baby that would never meet any milestone, she & her husband were devastated. My friend was now on a journey, unlike anything the two of us ever dreamt about!
Jack was born on December 10th. The prognosis was grim and they spent 3 weeks with Jack at the hospital. Once they got him home they were thrown into a world of doctor appointments, physical, occupational & speech therapy. He had 2 operations before he was 3 months old.
Learning how to care for a child with special needs and come to grips with her new normal was a huge challenge. She admits she became isolated and filled with grief. Eventually, Tom & Khris met and became friends with families who also had children with special needs. They were a cherished source for sharing conversation and information about the struggles they were facing.
Life Goes On
Leaning that Jack’s condition was not genetic was a huge relief so they decided to have more children. They were blessed from above with 2 daughters 3 & 6 years younger than Jack. Striving to create a “normal” family life in spite of the challenges of raising a child with special needs was their goal. They found ways to accommodate Jack so he could participate in all their activities. From squeezing his body into rides at Disneyworld & Six Flags to fishing, snow skiing, golfing, white water rafting, hiking & swimming he didn’t miss a thing!
Jack is doing so much better than the doctors predicted. I think that’s because Khris & Tom took advantage of every idea to help him get better. Being able to stay at home allowed Khris to have extra time for Jack. When he was about 2 years old they learned about therapeutic horseback riding. They found a center about an hour away and started taking Jack once a week to ride. It is therapy disguised as fun and he loves it!
Fitness is Key
Khris says she is obsessed with keeping Jack physically fit and can hardly let a day go by without doing some kind of physical activity with him. This sentiment spilled over to other members of their family. Even their parents would take Jack out for walks or bike rides. She tells a story about one Christmas Day when Jack got a new bike. Grandad was the first to take him out for a bike ride and before you know it, he had ridden over the curb and crashed! Everyone has shared in the comical escapades of taking care of Jack, but somehow he has remained unscathed!
Jack attended public school where he flourished. He loved going to school every day and riding the bus! Khris was Jack’s advocate and made certain that when he was at school they were doing everything to keep Jack moving, progressing, and learning. Tom & Khris dreaded the day he graduated. Finding a place that would continue his development was the first priority.
In 1984 Bynum School was founded to educate children and adults with special needs. Classrooms & work centers were set up in trailer homes and one small building. Bynum grew every year and they were in need of a new facility. Thanks to the generosity of Midlanders’ the new building opened in August 2018. Students, Staff, and Parents were thrilled!
After high school, they have programs for adults of all ages who are involved in many of the programs offered on and off campus. On the campus, there is a wood shop and ceramic studio they use for making handcrafted items to sell. In the greenhouse and gardens, they grow flowers and organic fruits and vegetables they sell in the Fall and Spring. Community activities include volunteering at Meals on Wheels, Helping Hands & the Food Bank. All the while, learning and growing as individuals and becoming more independent. They make friends, recreate and have a lot of fun!
Every individual, regardless of ability, wants to have a purpose in life. Bynum School fulfills that for so many.
Hadley Court is proud to give back to Bynum School in honor of Jack O’Grady this Christmas season. A donation was made December 12, 2018.
Khris & Tom found key resources helpful along the way:
- Health & Human Services & Department of Aging & Rehabilitation offer help with Physical, Occupational & Speech Therapy, Respite services, Vocational Services, and Life Skills Programs
- Local non – profit organizations that offer services to children & adults with disabilities
- Get involved in the ARD process for your student and learn the laws governing special education in your state
- There are certified Therapeutic horseback riding centers across the U.S.A.
- Learn about becoming a Guardian for your child once they turn 18
- Read about Special Needs Trusts
- Many ski areas offer assisted skiing – call ahead to schedule because they fill up fast!
- Rifton tricycles come in all sizes & are easy to use
Photo credits: riversidehotel.com