When I was contacted by the Commission for Children with Special Heath Care Needs (CCSHCN) about doing this article, my first thought was, “Seriously, it is the holidays and I don’t have the time to do this.” But after a brief second of thinking, I agreed.
Why? For the people who are exactly where I have been and at times still am… overwhelmed and don’t know what to do or who to contact.
So, here I am sharing a little piece of my story with a smile on my face and a tear in my eye in hopes that this will help someone find the help he/she needs.
On July 23, 2004, when I was 23, my husband, Brady, and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into the world –Gabriella “Gabby” Lee Anderson.
It was the greatest and scariest experience all at the same time. Brady and I decided that we didn’t want prenatal testing done and found out after birth that Gabby had Down syndrome.
At Gabby’s 3-month checkup, she still hadn’t passed any of the hearing tests she had been given.
“I am going to refer you to the Commission for Children with Special Health Care Needs,” the pediatrician told us. “I am going to call and see when the next hearing clinic is.”
Fifteen minutes later he returned and said: “They have a clinic this afternoon. If you could go over to their office now and fill out the paperwork, that would make it easier this afternoon.”
I went to my car and cried. I looked at myself in the rearview mirror and thought, “Great. Another doctor.”
I called Brady and asked him to come and help me with Gabby so I could get everything completed.
I was terrified as I walked into the Commission for the first time.
I had never heard of the organization (even with my background in child care and a college degree in Early Childhood Education), but I quickly learned that I was in great hands.
The people there were warm, welcoming, and helped me get the paperwork done as quickly as possible.
I actually look forward to working with this wonderful group of people to get the best care possible for Gabby.
It took a few years but after having tubes and different types of hearing tests, we learned that Gabby had mild hearing loss. She was going to need hearing aids.
It was exciting to see her response. When we put the aids in for the first time, I looked at my mom and whispered, “Hopefully, this will help.”
Gabby looked at us and said with a laugh, “I can hear you.”
It has been an amazing journey to hear her speech flourish from only a few people understanding her to everyone knowing exactly what she is saying.
Through my years with the CCSHCN I have had the honor of working closely with the Parent Advisory Council, Family 2 Family and the Strategic Planning Progcess.
I am not the only person to have a relationship with the CCSHCN. Gabby is always excited to go see everyone.
They always involve her in all the discussions of her care and plans of action, which is a major step toward her independence as she gets closer to adulthood.
For that, and so many other things, I am grateful CCSHCN is a part of our lives.
Photo: Brady and Beth Anderson of Somerset with their children Gabby, 11, and Hayden , 5