Project: Just Like You is proud to present Logen! And this is his story.
Logen is 5 years old. He will be six in December. He was diagnosed with level 3 #Autism Spectrum Disorder. This means, according to his super mom, Tricia, "my son is currently #nonverbal and is starting to communicate using an #assistivedevice. He struggles with sitting and participating in many structured activities because he is very self guided. He is very smart and loves all things #outerspace. Logen needs many breaks and a very structured routine or else the chaos of the unknown becomes too much for him. He loves and emotes greatly, which is not the norm for children on the spectrum, but he still struggles to make friends and play with others." However, Logen doesn't let anything stop him. He enjoys his #iPad, watching #Futurama and #Simpsons, loves everything about #space and #MarioBros, enjoys being #outdoors, and playing with #animals (particularly dogs). He loves to play with his sister and enjoys swinging in his #sensoryswing.
Tricia also said "My child is awesome because he has the biggest heart and loves with all he has. He is the happiest little boy I've ever met and his smile brightens the room. He brings awareness and love to everyone he comes in contact with. He reminds us every day of what is really important in the world!" We at Project: Just Like You think Logen is pretty awesome too! Keep living life to the fullest, little buddy!
Logen is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present, River! And this is her story.
Meet River, who she just turned 6 years old. River was diagnosed with #DownSyndrome. From her rockstar mom, Jenny, "We didn't know she had it until after she was born. Down syndrome is #Trisomy21 - a condition where instead of a pair of chromosomes, she has three copies of the 21st chromosome.
Down syndrome means River will have intellectual and physical disabilities. These will likely include developmental delays, a slower learning pace, impaired gross and fine motor skills, speech delays, and amplified health issues such as celiac disease, eye or hearing impairment, hypotonia, or thyroid issues. It's important to know two things though: 1) No two people with Down syndrome are alike! Each person is different and has varying degrees of any condition, just like the typical population. And, 2) River and other people with Down syndrome can learn, can have excellent health, and can excel at any given thing life offers!
River enjoys being with her family and friends doing all sorts of things. At home she often pretends to #cook and serve food in the kitchen. She is a great helper to her parents! River lives along the Chesapeake with her family and she takes adventurous walks around the neighborhood and community beach. River #swims in the bay and #plays in the #sand, and she loves going for a #boatride.
River shows us a beauty in her simplicity yet amazes us with her complexity. She is full of curiosity, humor, and kindness. I know her younger sister gets on her nerves from time to time (as sisters do), but River hands her a toy and shares her M&M's regardless. She cracks us all up with her physical comedy and imitations of things she sees in movies. We call her The Little #Actress. River has a fearless sense of adventure and her strength to keep going is inspiring!
River is a trailblazer! Keep climbing and conquering mountains, River!
River is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Joshua! This is his story.
Joshua is 7 years old. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (aka Juvenile Diabetes) when he was just 11 month old. Type 1 Diabetes is an auto immune disease and in basic terms this means that his body has fought against itself and has killed off the cells that make insulin. Type 1 Diabetes is not caused by anything we did or he did. It is not caused by what you eat or how active you are. Joshua will never out grow this and there is nothing currently to cure type 1. Everybody needs insulin to survive, so his is artificial since he can no longer produce it.
According to his incredibly strong advocate mom, Shannon, “Finding out that Joshua had type 1 Diabetes saved his life. At only 11 months old the normal signs and symptoms of Type 1 were excused by other things. He was losing weight, but had started walking so he was losing the baby fat. He leaked through diapers, so we thought he had out grown his current size. He was cranky, but cutting teeth. He had a fever but we were told he had a virus. On Feb 13, 2010- Joshua woke up with vomit and could not support himself. He hit his head the night before on a fall, so my husband rushed him to the ER.
Several hours later with a clear CT scan, they were about to release him. Thankfully another doctor came in and called for a blood test. This saved his life!
Joshua wears an insulin pump today, tests his blood sugar 10-12 times a day, and requires insulin. Before wearing a pump he received several shots a day. He also wears a monitor. These life saving devices have to be changed weekly. Everything in his daily life affects his blood sugar. It is a balancing act on a very tight rope.
Joshua loves to swim, fish, play soccer, read, and just about anything else. He loves life. He loves music and he wants to learn to play the piano. He loves pizza, rainbow sherbet and a good salad. He can eat anything as long as he takes his medicine. He loves to play with his big brother and ride his bike and he loves cub scouts!
He is amazing because he doesn’t let Diabetes stop him. He is friendly, funny, loving, kind and brave. He tests his own blood sugar most of the time and has began doing pump changes. He also eats when he doesn’t want to. He has to be tested 2 times every night at midnight at 3 am, and never complains.
He as spoken to Senators and Delegates and the Governor of VA working on Diabetes Laws in VA. He participated in an artificial pancreases trial earlier this year for 3 days. He doesn’t know the word quit! We are so proud of him and all he has done in his short 7 years. We love him so much and are so thankful for the life he gets to lead, even when it is tough and confusing and hard. The outcome could have been so different, so we try very hard to remember this daily.”
Joshua, may you never learn the word “quit.” May you continually work for the betterment of all those who have Type 1 diabetes. We love that you stay strong in work and play. Joshua, you are a fighter and we admire that!
Joshua is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Nolan! This is his story.
Nolan is three years old and diagnosed with Desmoid Fibromitosis this past May. It is a rare tumor (1 in 6,000,000) that has presented itself on his left side lower face.
Desmoid fibromitosis, also know as aggressive fibromatosis, is a rare condition marked by the presence of desmoid tumors. Desmoid tumors can arise in virtually any part of the body, and are tumors that arise from cells called fibroblasts, which are found throughout the body and provide structural support, protection to the vital organs, and play a critical role in wound healing. These tumors can occur in anyone at any age. Although not technically considered cancer because they do not metastasize, they mimic and are treated the same way that cancerous tumors are aggressive, fibromatosis is locally aggressive.
According to his super mom, Shannon, “After trying some experimental drugs that were unsuccessful in even slowing the growth of the tumor, Nolan recently started traditional chemotherapy in hopes to slow and then hopefully shrink the tumor until it is small enough to be surgically removed.
Nolan enjoys snuggle time with Mom while we watch Disney movies. He is a jumper. He loves jumping around, jumping on trampolines, and doing gymnastics. He has fun playing with his brother and friends. He likes being outside playing or helping Daddy out in the yard. He’s three, so he’s happy doing many things. He LOVES his pets, especially Yeti, our Maine Coon cat that will let him do just about anything to her, but he is so gentle with her. Like the rest of the family, he enjoys doing puzzles. Who doesn’t!?!?
Nolan is awesome because of his personality. He is so loving, running and jumping into our arms when we get home and telling us he loves us and misses us. And snuggling up on the couch with Mom, Dad, or his brother Liam. He is so jovial and has a great laugh and is so cute!! The ladies swoon over his beautiful blue eyes and long dark eyelashes. Nolan is up for anything, including going down the big slides at waterparks and riding some rides outside of the kiddie section of amusement parks. He loves to listen to Disney music, and our little game is to guess what movie it is from. He is pretty darn good at it!! Maybe, just maybe, one day he will be better at it than Mommy. Nolan is a joy to be around and is great at making people laugh and smile. He is definitely a class clown, pretending to fall down just to get the laugh. He is an incredible kid who is going through a difficult journey but is handling it like a champ! Nolan equals Awesome!!”
Nolan, your zest for life is unstoppable! We love that you are silly and find humor in all situations. We love that you are filled with energy and are so loving towards others. Always keep that strong spirit!
Nolan is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Penny! This is her story.
Penny is 10 years old and diagnosed with Down Syndrome. According to her incredible mom, Amy Julia, “All children with Down syndrome experience some degree of delayed development, physically and intellectually. That said, the range of possibilities for delays and for growth and learning is quite broad across the population. Most kids with Down syndrome take longer than typical children to learn how to walk and talk and read, for example.
Penny enjoys reading, ballet, spending time with her friends, playing piano, weddings, and playing with babies. My child is awesome because she is funny and kind and thoughtful. As soon as she hears of someone in need, she writes them a note to offer her care and support.”
Taken from a piece Penny wrote by herself, with a little help from her mom,
“Some of my favorite books are Ramona Quimby Age 8 by Beverly Cleary, Gooney Bird Greene, McKenna Ready to Fly, and Superfudge by Judy Blume. I like these books because they all have in common girls and boys my age who do things I like to do like gymnastics, reading in bed, going to school, and being an older sibling.”
According to Penny, on her thoughts of having Down Syndrome, “I almost forgot to tell you about Down syndrome. My mom and dad thought it was going to be scary because they thought Down syndrome would hurt me and other people. But it actually was not scary and I did not get hurt. I have a great life.”
Penny, thank you for telling the world in your own words that of course you enjoy the same activities as your peers! Thank you for enforcing that Down Syndrome is not scary. It’s a part of who you are, and that you are beautiful and perfect just being you. You are an inspiration to us all, Penny!
Penny is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Josse! This is her story.
**Josee is part of our global initiative as her story comes from Queensland, Australia!**
Josee is 3 years old. She is diagnosed with Trisomy 21 – the most common form of Down syndrome, at 13 weeks gestation. According to her very strong mom, Joelle, “Trisomy 21 means that instead of a paired 21st chromosome, my child has a triplicate 21st chromosome, in every cell of her body. Trisomy 21 occurs randomly at the time of conception. Because of this extra genetic material children with Down syndrome may have an intellectual disability, speech and language challenges, and take longer to acquire some skill sets. People with Down syndrome now have access to better medical care, access early intervention and ongoing therapies, and are now living into their 60’s. There’s never been a better time to be born with Down syndrome!
My child enjoys singing and dancing, she sings all day! Josee loves playing with her siblings and her beloved dogs, she likes shopping and picking ‘pretty’ clothes, loves eating ice cream, and riding on her bike.
My child is awesome because she has defied the poor prognosis we were given when she was unborn! Josee had an additional condition called hydrops, whereby fluid was accumulating in her tiny body and we were given no hope that she would live.
She is an incredible little girl, so curious about the world and lives every day with an enthusiasm people are envious of.
Josee is fun loving, engaging and energetic. She loves to do all the things any little girl enjoys doing, and her determination and persistence amaze us every day.
Josee, keep defying the odds! Keep exuding your enthusiasm for life. We love that you live with excitement and wonder. You are an example to us all about how to live life with gusto!
Josee is #JustLikeYou
#ProjectJustLikeYou proudly introduces Isaac!
Isaac means "laughter," and boy does he ever live up to his name! Despite all that he has been through, Isaac spreads joy to everyone he meets, especially through his infectious laugh!
Isaac was born with #Hurler Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder where children are missing a vital enzyme. After numerous doctor appointments and 3 surgeries, Isaac was diagnosed just 5 days before his 1st birthday. We were told that he would not likely live past the age of 5.
Isaac has endured a total of 15 surgeries and has had countless painful and frightening medical experiences. Our little overcomer turns 6 years old in October, and he is constantly laughing and learning new things.
He loves his new school as a big #kindergartner now. Some of his favorite activities include #kickball, riding his #tricycle, #swimming, going to the #park, visiting the #zoo, and playing at the Children's Museum. We couldn't be more proud of our miracle boy!
Isaac is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Annabelle! This is her story.
Annabelle is 3 years old and is diagnosed with tracheoesophageal fistula, commonly refereed to as EA/TEF.
According to her amazing mom, Emily, “Annabelle was born with esophageal atresia and tracheoesophageal fistula, commonly refereed to as EA/TEF. It essentially means her esophagus did not connect to her stomach and instead there was an abnormal connection between her esophagus and trachea. She had surgery to repair at two days old and spent a month in the NICU recovering. As a result of her condition, her esophagus didn’t work normally for her until very recently. She couldn’t eat any solid food until age 2 and had episodes of food being stuck almost daily. She has had 4 procedures to stretch her esophagus to normal size. She’s also extremely susceptible to respiratory illness and had pneumonia nine times in the first two years of life.
Lucky for us, Annabelle is doing really well, but more importantly, she is as silly and sassy as any other three year old. I call her angel face because when you look at her you can see her kindness and goodness shining through. She loves being a big sister and takes being a dog owner very seriously. Every night she insists on tucking in our dog. She was loves learning about the animals on her favorite show The Octonauts and was Captain Barnacle for Halloween. Her most favorite thing to do is visit with her cousin’s horse who she also claims is her horse.”
Annabelle, may your kindness and goodness always shine through. May your love for learning never stop. May your life be a testimony of strength and courage to everyone you meet. You have endured so much in your short span of life and yet your joy and happiness far exceed your struggles. Thank you for being a source of strength for us all!
Annabelle is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Sean! This is his story.
Sean is 24 years old and diagnosed with Down syndrome. There are three sets of the 21st chromosome. Which means there are developmental delays and health issues. According to his wonderful mom, Brenda, “We received a prenatal diagnosis at 4 months and did much of our research before he was even born. Books and doctors informed us of limitations, but our parent support network gave us positive information and hope. We relied upon these families to give us guidance during those critical early years.
When Sean was a toddler we visited a physician who changed our lives. His words were simple: “Decide what you want for your child and don’t take no for an answer”. This became our mantra and our guiding force. We formed a long term plan – we wanted Sean to socialize and be educated alongside his neighborhood peers, which was not common at the time. We wanted him to learn how to live independently in the real world. We faced an uphill battle but refused to compromise, and we were ultimately successful.
Our mantra took on increasing meaning. It became our family philosophy. Sean grew up feeling no limitations, and became someone who also “didn’t take no for an answer”. He had goals, but was willing to work hard to achieve them. He wanted to play sports in high school, so in addition to Special Olympics, he made the school wrestling team. He earned the highest award in Boy Scouts, his Eagle Scout award. He wanted to go to college, so he applied to George Mason University’s LIFE program and was accepted. He graduated in 2015. He wanted to be a weatherman, which was a challenging goal, but he persisted and ultimately worked at an internship for a local meteorologist. He wanted to live independently, and he now lives in a house with four friends. He loves hanging out “with the guys”, planning football parties, and living his life to the fullest. Next on his list: getting married to his beloved girlfriend Tasha. I have no doubt that he will make his dreams come true. We couldn’t be more proud!
Sean enjoys football, basketball, soccer, meteorology, drinking Corona, hosting football parties, and hanging out with friends, Spending time with his girlfriend Tasha, and listening to music. His favorite artist is Shakira. My child is awesome because he knows what he wants and doesn’t let anyone limit him.”
Sean, you are an incredible model of how life looks when one doesn’t accept “no” for an answer. You live out your dreams and goals to the fullest and your life is a shining light to all those around you. Now that you have graduated college, live independently with friends, we can’t wait to for the next chapter of a possible marriage to your girlfriend, Tasha! You are living life in an incredible way because you and your family always believed you could!
Sean is #JustLikeYou
Project Just Like You proudly presents Finn!
Meet Finn! Finn name means "Warrior" and his middle name Noah means "Long Lived." And what a warrior this is 20 months old is in his young life!
Finn was born with heart disease. Basically, he has no chambers in his heart and his red and blue blood mix just like a washing machine. He spent the first eight months of life in the hospital and indoor 10 surgeries including one open heart surgery and he will need several more surgeries including an open heart surgery in the next year or two. Despite all of these challenges and delays, this has not stopped this munchkin at all!
He enjoys wagon rides, playing with his brother and his dog, eating yummy foods like vegetables and #Cheerios and even #spaghetti! Finn also loves Mickey Mouse, #findingNemo and #Frozen. He loves to sing and he loves to learn. He is currently learning #colors and his #ABCs!
Finn is a happy 20 month boy!
Finn is #JustLikeYou
#ProjectJustLikeYou proudly introduces Jacob!
Jacob is lively and sweet 21 month old who enjoys playing with #legos, his sisters, #blocks, #cars, #trucks and other toys. His favorite activity is to swing. Jacob was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at 16 months of age. And through continued therapy he continues to progress! Today he interacts with his siblings, laughs, points, signs, makes eye contact, and shows empathy.
Jacob is really #justlikeyou
Project Just Like You proudly presents Brady! And this is his story!
Brady is now 4 1/2 years old. When he was and was diagnosed with a condition called #PMG or #Polymicrogyria. He has hemiparesis on his left side caused by the PMG. He is completely deaf in his left ear, and received a cochlear implant in 2014.
The left sided weakness posed challenges when learning to walk, crawl, and even sit up. Swallowing food was even difficult to master.
Brady is #smart, he loves #trains, #dinosaurs, and #MickeyMouse! He loves playing with his older sister and going to school. He had learned to cope with every challenge he has faced, and has one of the sweetest dispositions ever. His smile is infectious and you can't help but love this little guy!
Brady is #justlikeyou
#ProjectJustLikeYou is proud to present Sadielynn. She goes by "Sadie." This is her story!
Sadie is 1 1/2 years old. She was born April 26, 2015. When she was 3 days old, her mother noticed what she thought were seizures. We later learned that her epilepsy had a genetic cause. She was given the diagnosis of #ADNFLE. It is very rare as only roughly 100 people have this diagnosis and very little is known about it. We do know that she should be able to achieve all of her milestones and as she becomes an adult, and her seizures should happen less frequently. Even possibly go into remission! Sadie is now 7 months seizure free.
But no one would ever know she has any type of seizure activities! Sadie attacks life with a gusto that knows no bounds! She loves to play with her big brothers, climb anything including the kitchen table and the playground at the park. She loves to root for her family's favorite team the #KCRoyals and plays #baseball wth her big brother. She loves life and we love her!
Sadie is a happy 1 1/2 year old happy child!
Sadie is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Ethan. This is his story!
Ethan is 10 years old. He was diagnosed with #PDDNOS with #hypotonia at 3 years old. He was also diagnosed with #autism spectrum disorder and #sensoryprocessing disorder by the age of 5.
Ethan is attending public school in a typical mainstream 4th grade class with support. He takes #taekwondo, participates in #church and has a passion for many #popculture icons.
From Diana, his amazing mother, "Ethan is amazingly #resilient. He has moved schools 4 times and states 3 times. He has tried many mainstream #sports without being discouraged. He dreams of being a #filmdirector or #comicbook creator. We were told at the beginning of his diagnosis that he would never attend mainstream school and would likely never write. We were told that delays would always make him set apart. In some ways, he is set apart, but at 10, by the grace of God, he has become a young man who relates in activities more like his peers than not. He has learned to embrace and try to understand autism. I learn everyday from him. I walk each step and learn as I go but I am so thankful." Ethan continues to #soar.
Ethan is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Mason! This is his story.
From his wonderful mother, Ashley, "Mason is 5 years old. He has been diagnosed with #PartialAgenesis of the #CorpusCallosum and #Autism. This means Mason is missing part of the bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two sides of the brain.
Mason enjoys #school, playing with the #iPad, learning about the #SolarSystem and the United States, #puzzles, #books, and swinging at the #park.
Mason is awesome because he never gives up. He works hard and loves to learn new things. Mason is sweet and funny and smart, and we are so thankful he is ours." Mason continues to thrive!
Mason is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Piper! This is her story!
Piper is 7 years old and diagnosed with #Downsyndrome. According to her tireless mom, Shannon, "To quote Rose Mordi from Nigeria, who said at a #UN conference on World Down Syndrome Day, "Down Syndrome is a naturally occurring chromosome arrangement that has always been part of the human condition.” #Downsyndrome affects every person differently. For Piper it means she had a heart surgery, wears hearing aids, works hard on her speech and takes a little extra time and hard-work to reach her goals. Her mother writes, "Piper has a pretty amazing life! She was on the cover of #PatWinder’s new revision of “Gross Motor Skills for Children Down Syndrome”. She was featured in #ACMoore’s "Changing the Face of Beauty" ad. She is a Rising Star in #Delaware’sMissAmazing #pageant, which she loves because it's a good excuse to wear false eyelashes and lots of glam make up. Piper would get mani/pedis every week if I let her. She is in a typical #cheersquad. Piper is constantly practicing her cheers, even at bedtime when she should be sleeping! When cheer season is over, Piper is off to #danceclass to work on the routine for the #SpringDance #Recital. Piper loves school! She is #fullyincluded in her #firstgrade class. She just brought home her first spelling test and spelled every word right! She has a best friend, Emily, who she sits with on the bus. They also had an awesome play date recently. She can’t get enough of #reading and #puzzles. Piper also plays and torments her two older brothers, Sean and Max, just like any younger sister. And is the most patient sister her younger sister, Harper, could ever want. My child is awesome because Piper is one of the kindest, gentlest people I have ever met. And no matter how hard or how long a new skill or concept takes, she doesn't give up, she doesn't get discouraged. She works so hard and finds joy in the process. Piper is so much more than I ever imagined upon hearing her diagnosis 7 years ago. She is intelligent, capable, and accomplished. She is funny and friendly. Piper is SO MUCH just like any typical child.
Piper is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present James! We are delighted to announce James is part of our global project, as his story comes from #Sydney, #Australia!! This is his story!
James is 3 years old and diagnosed with
#AutismSpectrumDisorder. According to his mother and his #advocacychampion Sharna, "Jame's #diagnosis is just a #label. A label that allows us to access #specialists and #therapists that he needs in his #team to help us bring out his full potential. Other than this reason the #diagnosis means nothing! It's just another way. #Autism is just another way.
Another way to think, another way to learn and another way to achieve. And achieve he does!" (Sharna shares photos and stories of James on Instagram @jameshealthjourney )
She continues, "James has the most amazing photographic memory, he can count to 1000, he knows things well beyond his years! James is affectionate, loving and social. James loves the #beach, #soccer and has a passion for #trains. James was classified as #non-verbal in January of 2016 when he was #diagnosed. After a lot of hard work (mainly on his part) James is #receptive and has #expressivespeech! These kids are only different, not less-than. They need time, #love, and patience and that's what we will continue to give our son!" We couldn't have said it any better!
James is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Molly! And this is her story.
Molly is 6 years old and diagnosed with Robertsonian Translocation Down syndrome. According to her warrior mother, Candice, "It's Just like with Trisomy 21, except her chromosome dis-attached, re-attached, flipped and infused in her chromosomes. It's very rare and usually parents are carriers. But my husband and I both got tested and came up negative so she's literally 1 in more then a million!! Molly enjoys horseback riding, cheerleading, singing, dancing, going to restaurants, watching movies, and conquering playground equipment.
She is awesome because she is not afraid to be herself. She's very confident in her skin and it's contagious! Molly has a way of making you feel you can dance like no one is watching, yet everyone is and you just don't care.
Like most superheroes my daughter started out having everything against her. Premature, heart condition, specialty therapies, and more surgeries then anyone should go through. But the harder she worked, the stronger she got, and behold a hero emerged. She has the ability to make you feel special with a single hug, root for the under dog, and see the world in a way I wish everyone could experience. Molly is truly one of a kind (just like every superhero), but only difference is she's not afraid to show others who she is with a mask. She is Molly; strong, independent, and courageous girl who just happens to have an extra chromosome. So look out, this won't be the first, or last time, you hear and see Miss Molly taking on the world!!!" Molly continues to amaze and inspire those around her!
Molly is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Conner! This is her story.
Conner is 17 years old and diagnosed with #Autism. Autism is a #neurodevelopment
#disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, #verbal and #nonverbal#communication, and #restricted and #repetitive #behavior.
According to her supportive mother, Saundra, "My child enjoys #cheerleading at her #highschool with the #varsity#cheerleaders. She loves to spend time with her family, #camping, #traveling, spending time with our #family and with our family dog, "Lia." My child is awesome because she has the kindest heart, loves to #laugh, loves to #help others and is just an amazing unique beautiful soul.
Having a child with challenges can be challenging…yet…we firmly believe that Conner was given to us by our God for a reason. We love her #selflessness, her ability to read other peoples feelings and #emotions and her loving heart. She makes us laugh, she loves her family, we love her feistiness, her willingness to learn daily. Many times she can get frustrated, but she is always aiming to do her best and give it her all. She continues to grow daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly. Her growth make her Dad, myself and her brother jump for joy. She surprises us all the time with her knowledge of things. We couldn’t be more blessed. She is just an amazing unique beautiful soul." Conner, we all jump for joy reading your story!
Conner is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jake! This is his story.
Jake is 8 years old and diagnosed with
#DownSyndrome. Which means he has 3 copies of the 21st chromosome.
According to his strong mom, Kimberly, "Jake loves #swimming, #camping, #dancing, and anything #outside. He also loves #monstertrucks. Jake is such a fun loving little guy. He also is so stubborn and it tends to be his way or no way! But he just loves #life and loves to share his #love with everyone he meets. I could not imagine my life without him. The lessons he has taught me in the past 8 years will last a lifetime." Jake, we are glad you are part of our Project: Just Like You family! Keep shining!!
Jake is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jonathan! This is his story.
According to his courageous and supportive parents, "Jonathan, from the province of Newark, of house Mitchell, second of his name: #brother, #son, Devourer of #Apples, Keeper of #Smiles, Overseer of the #Playground, and Warden of #SesameStreet. House Mitchell Sigil: heart with a puzzle piece missing
House Mitchell words: "#strength lies in #determination"
House Mitchell loves #GameofThrones!
On a more serious note, Jonathan is a smart, affectionate, determined, and energetic 5 year old boy who we are so very proud of. Each day is an adventure with him.
He has #AutismSpectrumDisorder. He is a proud big #brother to #twin siblings, Jacob and Melanie. He loves #horses and enjoys connecting with them during #Hippotherapy each week. He is extremely #technologically savvy, and loves #jumping on his trampoline. Although Jonathan has difficulty communicating verbally, he understands what is being said and finds #creative ways to #communicate with #others.
We want to #support our son in anyway we can. A huge part of that is embracing the #unique and #quirky little boy that he is. #Autism is just one aspect of Jonathan. He has #challenges and #strengths like anyone else. We hope by doing this, we not only spread #awareness, but show our son that he truly has a #village #supporting and #helping him on this #journey." Jonathan, we love your creative ways. We are all behind you rooting you on this journey!
Jonathan is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Tyler! This is his story. We are also thrilled to announce Tyler is part of our #global initiative.
According to his super warrior mom, Linda, "Tyler was born on the 1st of February 2013. He is now a happy 3 1/2 year old full of energy and no fear. When Tyler was 2 1/2years old he was diagnosed with #autism and #sensoryprocessingdisorder. He thinks and feels things differently than others. But he looks just like other kids - #gorgeous, #cute and #adorable.
Tyler enjoys #outdoor activities such as #motorbike riding, playing at the #beach, #pools and #parks. He loves going on family #holidays to #HamiltonIsland. His favourite thing to do on a weekly basis is to go to a #gamearcade and #ride the #motorbikegame.
Tyler brings so much #joy to our household. He is very #affectionate, #intelligent, #funny and has an endless supply of energy. He is becoming more #sociable and #compassionate. He comforts upset children and offers his food to others.
As autism parents we witness extreme emotions, we see the beast of #meltdowns and the beauty of #extremeexcitement. It's the best thing seeing your child frequently super excited to see you and you can feel his love in his super tight hugs.
This special kid is full of #potential, he isn't going to have an ordinary life, it's going to be #extraordinary. He is going to help others and make a difference by sharing his journey. @tyler_n_jaydens_journey
Tyler, your voice and journey are inspiring to
us all. Keep flying high!
Tyler is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Ethan! This is his story.
Ethan is #6years old and #diagnosed with
#Type1Diabetes. With Type 1 Diabetes, the body’s own #immunesystem mistakenly #attacks and #destroys the #betacells in the #pancreas as if they were #invading#cells or #viruses. This happens without #symptoms or #pain and is known as an #autoimmuneresponse. As a result, the pancreas makes little or no #insulin, so the #cells in the #body don’t get #fuel and cannot #work the way they should. Over a period of months or years, the #beta #cells can stop working altogether. And when that happens, #sugar builds up in the #blood instead of being used as #fuel. This can be harmful to the body in many ways and leads to the symptoms of diabetes. When you have Type 1 Diabetes, you must take #insulin, by #injection or #pump, in order to #survive.
According to his strong and caring mom, Jennifer, "Ethan enjoys playing #soccer, #swimming, fishing, and participating in activities with his #cub scout #troop. Ethan is such a kind, friendly soul. He wants to make everyone a friend, and sees the differences in people as blessings and #gifts from God and not as anything to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. He is so incredibly brave, and both mentally and physically strong. He requires 4 shots daily, sometimes more depending on his blood sugar, and multiple blood glucose checks, which is done by pricking his fingers for a drop of blood; all of which he does without tears, protests, or complaints. He is my hero." Ethan, you are a hero and continue to make us all proud!
Ethan is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Cary Lynn! This is her story.
Cary Lynn will be 5 years old in two weeks. According to her tireless activist mother, Amy, "My child has about 30 diagnoses but the ones that impact us the most are #CerebralPalsy (CP), #Hydrocephalus, and #Dysautonomia. In basic terms CP means that it affects her body movement, #muscletone and #musclecontrol. #Hydrocephalus is where fluid gets on the #brain that isn't supposed to be there and Dysautonomia is a malfunction of the #nervoussystem. Cary Lynn is heavily impacted by this.
Cary Lynn enjoys so many things! She loves #art, #music, playing #ball, #dressingup, and being the center of #attention! She is awesome because she's a #survivor. She is doing things that no one thought she was capable of. She is in chronic pain, but doesn't let that slow her down! Every day with her is a #gift and a #blessing."
Cary Lynn, we are so inspired by you! Keep living each day to it's fullest.
Cary Lynn is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Lucas! This is his story.
According to his amazing mom, Becka, "My child's name is Lucas and he is 9 years old. He was diagnosed with #Autism Spectrum Disorder (officially) when he was 4 but all of his therapists and doctors knew that he was autistic by the time he was 2. #Autism looks different for everyone but for Lucas it means that he has a really hard time connecting with people: he can't read #facial or #bodylanguage well, he has trouble making eye contact, and he is very uncomfortable around people - even his family. He prefers to be alone, in his room with the door closed. He floats from one obsession to another which also makes it hard for him to talk to other people because he cannot think (or talk about) anything other than what he is currently interested in. We have him on medicine for #ADHD to help him focus and handle transitions.
Lucas loves to #move and especially to #climb. His favorite past time is to #spin things, his favorite being a #helicopter but he will spin #pencils, #spoons, #lids, anything. He likes #gymnastics and #swimming. He is learning to play the #piano. He likes #videogames and #reading (and listening to books). Lucas is very smart. He can be a perfectionist and will put 100% effort into something to master it. He is kind and caring. He has a strong sense of #justice so he always does the right thing - which includes standing up for other people when something "wrong" happens to them. He loves with his whole heart. He is an amazing little guy with an incredible #memory and a very sweet #personality. We love him so much!" Lucas, keep spreading kindness. Keep standing up for the good. Keep being a shining example of love for all those around you.
Lucas is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jackson! This is his story.
According to his champion mom, Rebecca,
"My child is Jackson and he is 7 years old.
He was diagnosed with #AutismSpectrumDisorder. #Children with #autism have difficulty with #social#interaction and #communication, experience delays in #grossmotor skills development, and may struggle with #attention, or physical health issues such as sleep or gastrointestinal disturbances. Jackson has difficulty communicating and often scripts his speech. He also has trouble regulating his emotional responses to various situations, which can cause extreme escalated behavior.
Jackson loves his #ThomastheTank Engine trains! He loves to recreate various scenes from the #books and #cartoons with his #tracks and #trains, and enjoys lining them up in long lines, waiting to take their turn at Knapford Station. He also loves #cars, especially the
#Cars2 characters! Jackson enjoys #drawing, and among his favorite things to draw are the #Dreamworks Animation" logo and #DanielTiger and #MargaretTiger. Sometimes he struggles to get involved with other children, but Jackson loves to play #chase and #wrestle with his older #brother, Alex, and his two little #sisters, Ava and Isabel.
My child is awesome because he has such a huge and tender heart, and loves to be funny and silly! Jackson will often stop whatever he's doing, just to sit back on his heels and laugh. If he hears a child or a baby crying, he will seek them out and try to help calm them. He's even been known to climb into the shopping cart of someone else, just to sit and smile and cuddle at the crying baby inside! He is sweet and loving." Jackson, we love your sweet and tender heart. Keep smiling and pressing ahead!
Jackson is #JustLikeYou
@mamabear_b4 **Follow Jackson and his journey @mamabear_b4
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Leon! This is his story.
Leon is 6 years old. He was diagnosed with #DownSyndrome at Birth and #AMLleukemia at 8 months of age. Down Syndrome is a genetic condition which occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics that is associated with Down Syndrome.
According to his courageous mother Tauheedah, and her family, "Down Syndrome means love, happiness and joy. For Leon it means he has to work extra hard to do many things like walking, talking and even riding a bike.
Leon is the life of the party and is a social butterfly. When he is out and about he stops and waves, hugs or high-fives everyone he sees. Leon has participated in many sports such as #baseball, #track and #basketball. He is currently taking #swimming once a week and he is doing a awesome job. Leon just finished his 5th#fashionshow for "#Kidsrunwayforresearch" in which he stole the show. Leon loves the spotlight. He was featured on a #Alex'slemonadestand #commercial when he was 2yrs old because he also kicked cancer's butt. Leon loves playing on his IPad and using FaceTime to keep in touch with his family and friends. He is a great big brother to his 2yr old sister Lea. He helps her out when needed and sometimes he thinks he's her boss. Leon started #kindergarten this fall and is doing great. He loves riding the bus and going to school. He is really good with #numbers and #alphabets. He loves #reading with me and his sister every night and doing flash cards. He is #fullyincluded in his kindergarten class and he is learning so much from his peers. He is getting so excited for Halloween and wants to be #CaptinAmerica who is currently his favorite super hero. "My child is awesome because he just is. Leon has overcome so many challenges and he still smiles and is happy every day. He is a tough little guy who just keeps trying until he gets it. He gets upset at times when it him takes a little longer to do things but once he gets it, the joy he has is priceless.
Leon, keep spreading love and joy. Leon is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Delaney!
This is her story. According to her fearless mom, Kerry, "My child's name is Delaney, and she is 17 years old. When Delaney was an infant I felt she wasn't developing her motor skills like others her age. I was a NICU nurse and kept telling our pediatrician that she seemed more like a baby born at 28 weeks versus full term. It wasn't until I took her to a different doctor for a sick visit that my concern was finally taken seriously. At 15 months Delaney had an MRI. She was diagnosed with #periventricularleukomalacia which is damage to the white matter of her brain. At some point either in labor or during pregnancy, Delaney suffered a #stroke. At the time of diagnosis, doctors couldn't say what kind of progress she would make, or even if she would walk. I'm happy to report that she surprised everyone! With lots of #physicaltherapy and #playtherapy, and a younger brother and sister coaxing her along, Delaney is extremely well compensated. She still has hurdles to cross. Delaney will never drive or live independently or ride a bike. With the injury to her brain Delaney has many traits similar to #autism. She does not adapt well to a change in routine, she is very literal- doesn't understand sarcasm, and is socially awkward. However, Delaney is an excellent #reader. She has a smile that can light up a room. She knows she struggles with conversation, so she will study a subject to share a common interest. For example, her brother plays #baseball. Delaney can tell you anything you ever thought you would want to know about the sport. #Football is next so she can spend time with her dad on the weekends! Most of her time is spent in her room watching #DisneyJr and playing with #babydolls. She seems to have the maturity of about an eight year old. That gets tough at times, especially as her siblings have surpassed her. On the up side, it is kind of cool to have one of the three still earnestly believe in Santa Claus. Delaney is one of a kind, but also just like you! Delaney, we are so thankful for your journey of hope and encouragement to us all! Keep surprising us with your thirst for life.
Delaney is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Carter! This is his story!
Meet Carter (3 years old currently). According to his caring mom, Beth, "When he was a just month old, Carter had a severe #brainbleed that came completely out of nowhere. He was in the #hospital, had #brain #surgery performed and at one point we were not sure if he would make it. He battled this for almost a month and still has doctors baffled at what exactly caused it despite numerous testing. The bleed has left him with #hemiparesis on his left side, global delays which include developmental, cognitive, and speech but this doesn’t hold him down. He is a very busy boy that is always on the go.
He loves #music and #singing. His favorite songs are #BINGO, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, #ABC’s, This Old Man and 5 Little Monkeys. He loves to #play #outside. Just the mention of the word "outside", he grabs his shoes, socks and heads to the door. While outdoors, he loves to #swing, #slide, and be pulled around in his #wagon. He is also a fish-he enjoys #bath time and the #pool in the #summer.
Carter is a little #bookworm. My husband and I put a bookcase in his room with lots of #books-he loves to #read and enjoys #storytime before bed at night. We are so blessed to have such a strong little guy. Despite all obstacles being thrown his way, he always over comes them. We are so proud of him!" Carter, stay active! Stay busy! Enjoy every second of the energy and enthusiasm you exude! You are living life in amazing ways!
Carter is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Mikey! This is his story.
We are proud to announce that Mikey is part of our #global initiative. My name is Mikey and I am 15 years old. I was diagnosed with #verbaldyspraxia when I was 2 and a half years old. Verbal dyspraxia is a #neurological speech condition which means I had great difficulty making the precise movements required for speech. I had difficulty producing individual speech sounds and sequencing sounds together in words. This meant that my speech was unintelligible even to family members. I had to have many years of intensive speech therapy. It wasn't until I was 8 years old that people outside of my family began to understand me. Now that I can be understood I still have word finding difficulties, not all my speech sounds are perfect and I find it extremely hard to talk to people I'm not familiar with. This diagnosis has also affected my literacy skills making all aspects of my learning difficult. Having this diagnosis of Verbal dyspraxia has been very #lonely. There is such little information or awareness about it. When I was younger my family felt lost. We had no one to talk to, no one who could offer advice and no one who could tell us everything would be OK. This is why I decided to raise awareness by setting up a Facebook page to share my story of growing up with verbal dyspraxia. My wish is to raise #awareness and support others that are touched by the condition, whether it is the person living with it, family members or friends. I want everyone to know that even though it's a long hard journey there is hope.
Just last week I won a #Young #Achiever#award at The #Brummies (Pride of Birmingham), this was because of all the fundraising and awareness work I do. I just want everyone to know that just because people live with a neurodiverse condition of any kind it doesn't make us any less than anyone else. As I like to say "We are too cool to follow the #neurotypical rule." Mikey, you conquer mountains. You are strong. You are brave. You inspire many people, both young and old. Keep pushing forward and stay courageous!
Mikey is #JustLikeYou
Follow Mikey on his brave journey- @mikeys_wish
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Mariano! This is his story.
Mariano Salvatore is 5 years old. According to Deanna, his super mom, "My son has #Erb'sPalsy which is a #BrachialPlexus injury that occurred during the birthing process. Our son's left arm was injured during delivery and he has been in therapy since he was 4 weeks old and has needed surgery and may need more in his future. Brachial Plexus injuries are injuries affecting the network of nerves that control the muscles of the shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, hand and fingers. Brachial plexus injuries can result in full to partial paralysis of one or both (bilateral) arms.
Stretching, tearing or other trauma can cause injury to the nerves of the Brachial Plexus. Brachial Plexus injuries often occur during the birthing process. Availability of Brachial Plexus statistics vary widely, but where figures are available the general consensus is that brachial plexus injuries occur in 2-5 out of 1000 births. More children suffer from brachial plexus injuries sustained at birth than #DownSyndrome or #MuscularDystrophy—yet information on this disability is not so readily obtained.- (obtained from the UBPN website)
Mariano is full of life and loves to play with his older #brother Lorenzo Santino. Mariano loves to #ride his #quad with his Papa and he loves riding his #scooter. He loves playing with his #superheroes and playing with his #cars and #trains. He also enjoys the #beach and #swimming during the #summertime. He loves being with his #family and he is such a sweet caring little boy. He is our #hero! Mariano is the most amazing 5 year old in the world! He lights up a room with his smile we waited what seemed a life time to hear him breathe and sometimes when he is playing I just watch him and think to myself how very blessed we are to have him in our lives! He is our miracle! He can make you laugh anytime! He is awesome!!" Mariano, we love that you are full of life! You are a hero for all of us too! Let nothing slow you down and keep you from living life with zest!
Mariano is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Taylor! This is her story.
Taylor is 13 years old and diagnosed with #Type1 #Diabetes. Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which a person’s pancreas stops producing #insulin, a hormone people need to get energy from food. #T1D strikes both children and adults at any age and suddenly. Its onset has nothing to do with diet or lifestyle. Though T1D’s causes are not yet entirely understood, scientists believe that both #genetic factors and #environmental#triggers play a role. There is currently nothing you can do to prevent it, and there is no cure.
According to her incredibly strong mom, Allison, "My child enjoys #swimming, #camping, #hiking, #theater, her #family and all around fun.
My child is awesome because everyday she #fights, she fights for her #health. She wakes up everyday with a #smile and goes forward each day like she is like every other kid regardless of the interruptions diabetes brings her daily. She #advocates and educates others about T1D. She #volunteers for Type 1 Diabetes Funding and Advocacy #JDRF and participates in clinical trial to better the lives for all Type 1 diabetics. She does it all with #joy.
Taylor, keep living everyday with a smile. Keep advocating and living life with joy. Your attitude and strength help make this world a better place for all of us.
Taylor is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You proudly presents Kayla! This is her story.
Kayla is 10 years old and is diagnosed with Down Syndrome. According to her phenomenal mom, Amy, "This diagnosis can mean so many different things to so many people. While it was scary at first (anything unknown always is), we embraced it as a family and decided we would never allow the diagnosis to define who Kayla is or would become. Because of that, we have never held Kayla back from activities that she loves and enjoys. Kayla loves #hiphop #dancing, #singing, all things #Disney, #roller coasters, #modeling, doing #pageants, #advocating for individuals with disabilities, texting her friends, #shopping, going to the #beach, being an awesome big #sister to her brother Logan and baby sister Brynnley, listening to #TaylorSwift, #swimming, and doing just about everything that every "typical" 10 year old enjoys. Kayla is amazing because she has taught us (and the world) more in her 10 short years than we will ever be able to teach her! She is kind, compassionate, loving, intelligent, sassy, and fun! Kayla has been a #model for #Gap (through a campaign with Changing the Face of Beauty), been on a three story billboard in #TimesSquare, is a minor league #NBA junior #danceteam member (Delaware 87ers), appears in a #NYTimes best selling #book, and has a law, the Kayla law, named after her in #Delaware! And while these may seem like "big" things...these pale in comparison to how amazing she is on a daily basis. Kayla is changing the world (and their view on individuals with Down syndrome) one smile at a time." Kayla, you continue to make an impact in a BIG way in society! You are changing hearts and minds. Your courage and confidence helps make this world a better place for all people. You are bold, beautiful, and strong! Continue advocating, shining, and smiling!
Kayla is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to proud to present Joshua! This is his story.
Joshua is 10 years old and diagnosed with #Autism. According to his kind and loving mom, Natasha, "Joshua has a speech delay. He has #repetitive #behaviors such as #rocking, #flapping his #hands and likes to repeat the same part of a video over and over. Joshua does not understand how to #communicate with others so he is not able to play with kids his own age. Joshua cannot be left alone because he will tend to #wander and does not understand what can hurt him. Joshua is #delayed in his overall comprehensive growth so even though he is 10 years old, he is mentally between 2-4 years old. Joshua is still not able to complete all the self-help skills like #bathing, #brushing his #teeth or going #potty by himself.
Looking back, the one thing I wish I know was how critical #ABA #therapy is at a young age with children on the #spectrum. I wish Joshua had started therapy when he was first diagnosed at 2.5years old. I have seen incredible growth in Joshua in the last 3 years of therapy that I truly believe if he had started 40 hours/week when he was really young he would be talking and more in his age bracket.
Joshua loves to play on the #computer, jump on the #trampoline, #rockclimbing, #swimming and #swinging on the swings.
My child is awesome because he is so sweet and lovable. Joshua is an amazing visual learner and can imitate very well. He is very stubborn and does not quit until he gets what he is working on. His #laughter is #contagious and he loves to #cuddle and #play. Joshua is funny and has such a great personality. He is always happy and giggly. Everyone that meets Joshua loves him." Joshua, we love that you are so playful and happy! We hope you always will remain loving and kind. May you always have a spirit of exploration and continue to grow in all aspects of your life.
Joshua is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Charlotte! This is her story.
According to her champion mom, Katie, "Charlotte is an #energetic, #loving, #curious, and #fearless young lady. She is currently in #kindergarten and fully included in her school. She loves going to #school, being with her #friends, and is learning so much and constantly showing everyone how much she is capable of and to never underestimate her.
Charlotte is a #twin and her #brother Henry (who is typical) is her best friend; these two love #playing together, being #silly together, and seeing what the other is up to. She is also a #bigsister and thinks her sister, Violet, is wonderful (unless she wants the same toy!). Charlotte loves #reading#books, listening to #music and #dancing, being #outside, #swimming, and watching #movies. This year she is taking a #gymnastics class and a #dance class and loves both – this girl likes to move!
She also likes family #vacations and this year has been to #Paris where she discovered a love of crepes and the #EiffelTower, Florida for her first National Down Syndrome Convention, and Maine for a #girls #week at the #beach. She is the best traveler and wins people over everywhere she goes with her smile!
Charlotte is a shining star in our family. She works hard, loves with her whole heart, and is silly and fun to be around. Her big smile and laughing eyes is the highlight of my day." Charlotte, continue to be a shinning star! We love that you are silly and fun and living life as an active kindergartener! May your life be a testament of strength and strong character to all those you encounter.
Charlotte is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Benjamin! This is his story.
According to his mom, Marybeth, "Benjamin is an almost #7yearold sweet, loving boy who we welcomes into our family through #adoption at the age of 4 and a half. He spent his early years in a wonderful #orphanage in #Armenia. He has apraxia of speech, and is largely #nonverbal; he also has a significant global #developmental #delay. But that only tells a tiny part of the story of who he is. He is an out-and-out extrovert who #loves#people, strangers and #friends alike. He adores his 3 #siblings, and wakes up almost very morning asking for them. He loves his #toy #cars, his stuffed #dogs and #CANDY. Despite that sweet tooth, his overall palate is really healthy, and he generally prefers fresh fruit and veggies to typical kid snacks. He is a water bug, and spends as much time as possible at the #pool (especially on the water slides). He recently began #therapeutic #riding #lessons, and going to the barn has become his new FAVORITE thing to do. He loves riding his Wee-Ride co-pilot bike with his dad to go see friends around the neighborhood. Other favorite things are #playgrounds (especially monkey bars), any kind of medical/dental/therapy appointment (weird, right?), all of his grandparents, Super Why! and the iPad. And most especially any outing we take as a family, when all of us are together. Of course, there are unique parenting challenges raising Benjamin, but that is true for all of our kids. Most days I want to strangle and hug them all in equal measure. But they are all MINE and I would not trade them for anything in the world. #God is #good all the time, and all the time, God is good." Benjamin, keep being friendly and meeting people. Keep going strong in your play and work. We love that you let nothing hold you back!
Benjamin is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Cole! This is his story.
Cole is almost 4 years old. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 18 months old. In the words of his courageous mom, Sharry, "In a nutshell, his pancreas just doesn't work. He cannot produce enough/any #insulin to modulate his blood #glucose. He wears an insulin #pump that allows us to administer insulin for everything that he eats or drinks. He also wears a Dexcom continuous glucose monitor that gives us a reading on his blood sugar level every 5 minutes. By him wearing this device, it diminishes the need to test his blood via a finger prick. However, we still have to test him multiple times a day. Both devices help us get a better grip on his #blood #sugar, reducing extreme highs and lows that can cause long term disabilities and hospitalization. Type 1 diabetes requires constant, 24/7 monitoring.
Despite the #chronic condition, Cole lives a totally normal life. He loves #trains more than life. He is Thomas the Tank Engine's number one fan! He is a terrific #swimmer. Cole is a super friendly guy. He cannot wait to get to his #preschool two days a week." Cole, we love that you keep going and live the life of any other young child. Continue to enjoy your childhood with all the fun and laughter that come with it. May you go strong and live life with vibrancy and happiness.
Cole is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Asher! This is his story.
Asher is 15 months years old and diagnosed with Down syndrome.
Down syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21, is an extra copy of the 21st chromosome. This extra genetic material manifests itself in a number of ways, most notably intellectual and developmental delays, and recognizable physical characteristics. It means he might look a little different then other babies --Or that hitting his milestones will be challenging at times.
According to his very strong advocate mom, Meagan, "Down syndrome is a part of Asher but it doesn't define him. He will do whatever he wants to do with his life and we will be there every step of the way. I encourage you to learn more about T21 but please don't believe everything you google! I wouldn't change Asher for the world but I am determined to help him change it for the better.
Asher enjoys playing with his his big sister Addison. They play "super man" where she flys him around the house . He also loves playing with any #toys that make #music or #sounds.
My child is awesome for so many reasons . I know he understands there is negative in the world but he chooses to be #positive and show his #happiness as much as possible! He has he most #bubbly , out going personality of any baby I have ever met . Not too mention he's a ham in front of the #camera. This little boy loves to have his pictures taken." Asher, we love your smile! You instantly captivated the world with your cuteness and charm. Despite the negative, you choose to be happy and kind. Always choose happiness. Always choose love for others. You have an incredibly bright future ahead of you and we cannot wait to see all the amazing life experiences in store for you. You will soar!
Asher is #JustLikeYou
Follow Asher and his amazing journey at @down_rightperf
Aida is 5 years old and diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. According to her courageous mom, Melissa, "Aida's Pancreas does not function, she is insulin dependent. Currently there is no cure. She has to have at least 4 insulin shots a day and her blood sugar is monitor 24/7. She currently wears a #CGM (#continuous#Glucose #monitor) it is a devise that inserts a tiny wire under her skin and send her BG levels to us through Bluetooth every 5 minutes. We hope to one day move toward the #insulinpump." Melissa wishes to spread #hope to other parents whose children are diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes by stating, "That is will get better, they truly do get accustomed to the #fingerpricks. It certainly doesn't feel like it at the beginning, but it DOES. We have been given #warriors and that is just what they are, true #heroes! And there is an amazing #community out there to #support you every step of they way, reach out to us!" Aida enjoys #cheerleading, #ballet, riding her #bike, and making #crafts!
Melissa also writes, "My child is awesome because she was chosen! She is an amazing warrior and she inspires me each and every day! She wakes up with a smile on her face and love in her heart! #Diabetes doesn't define her, she defines it! She never uses it as an excuse yet she is already at 5 years old educating the world on what it is!" Aida, you are a warrior! We love that you are educating the world on diabetes at such a young age. You teach us by your strong #spirit that nothing holds us back, nothing gets in the way, unless we allow it. You instill hope to all those who know you. Stay strong. Stay #courageous. And light this world on fire!
Aida is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Caleb! This is his story!
Caleb is nine years old. He has Down syndrome diagnosed at birth. According to his mom, supportive mom, Karen, "We were, of course, shocked. To us, the diagnosis was difficult. I think it's so for anyone who is told their child is not expected to have a "typical" life. But we got over the shock fairly quickly and got on with life." "At the beginning, the diagnosis meant #therapies and new people in our lives. People tried to help us to help Caleb and help us navigate this new road. But we were determined that he have as typical a childhood as possible. He has friends and is involved with many activities. We try not to limit him (except perhaps for safety reasons). He #travels with us and attends functions with us. He goes to birthday #parties and plays #sports. #Communication is something we still work on, but we always manage to work it out." Caleb enjoys #traveling and #sports. Almost every sport. If you ask him, he will tell you that #bowling is his favorite sport. But he also does #swimming, #horseriding, team sports, #golf, almost everything. "My child is awesome because he has shown us a numbers of important lessons first-hand: unconditional #love, true #friendship, and the importance of living life to the fullest. He tries his best and usually has the biggest #smile on his face while he's doing it." Caleb, wherever you go, there you are. You will do whatever you want with your life because you have been given the foundation to soar, surrounded by your friends and family. May you always continue to do your best at everything, and always, always live life to the fullest! Thank you for being a shining light to us all, Caleb!
Caleb is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Addie! This is her story.
Addie is 8 1/2 years old and was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes just two months shy of her 4th birthday. Both Addie's parents are also Type 1 diabetics. According to her compassionate mom, Sarabeth, "We feel thankful that God blessed us with Addie because we noticed the signs of her Diabetes right away. Addie's doctor still tells everyone the story of us calling him that December night. Addie also was born with only one kidney, with her diabetes, so we need to watch and protect her kidney. She is on an insulin pump 24/7, other than bath or swimming. She checks her blood sugar around 8 times a day." Sarabeth continues, "Addie and I love to raise awareness and funds for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (#JDRF) Each year we sell "Team Addie" shirts to raise funds and do a few more things throughout the year." "Diabetes is such a nasty disease but Addie is truly a little hero! She hardly ever complains and is always more worried about everyone else than herself. She loves to #draw, #read, and #dance." Addie, your #joy and #spirit are contagious! You are a #hero and we admire your #courage and your #strength as you press forward and conquer all the obstacles that you encounter.
Addie is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Marcus! This is his story.
Marcus, or "MJ" for short is 12 years old.
He was diagnosed with Autism at 3 years old.
The diagnosis means that MJ has difficulty communicating and interacting socially. He is also very #sensitive to certain #noises and has some difficulty with fine #motor#skills
According to his encouraging mom, Nicky, "The one thing I wish I knew was that it will get better in time. All of the hard work does pay off and that I am NOT alone!
My child enjoys #swimming, #basketball, and playing #games on the #computer.
My child is awesome because he is such a sweetheart. He is a genuinely kind child. He is also very funny now and likes to tell jokes. He is #caring and loves his #family and #friends." MJ, keep approaching life with a sense of humor. We love that you live your life with kindness and spread that to all those you encounter. Keep living strong!
MJ is #JustLikeYou
Follow MJ and his journey at
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Landon! This is his story.
According to his fearless mom, Naomi, "Landon will be 8 on December 20th. He loves having his #birthday so close to his favorite #holiday. When Landon was first diagnosed with #Autism Spectrum Disorder, it was extremely frustrating and overwhelming. The doctor who diagnosed him told us that he was Autistic and then sent us away with no information. The ultimate question loomed over our head of "What now?" He was 18 months old at the time of diagnosis. The services and information in our area were limited. If I could have known one thing back then, it would have been the answer to "What now?" Since his diagnosis, I have become the person in our area that I needed back then. I am now the #advocate. I help families get in touch with the right person. I know the right paperwork. I contact the schools and set up services for them. Landon is a huge advocate for himself and the other super heroes out there with Autism. He's very passionate about creating awareness so people have a better idea on what Autism is. Landon loves #videogames and the challenges they bring. He likes to figure out how to beat a level and then complete a game. He's really into #Pokémon at the moment and playing Pokémon Go. Landon also loves the study of #science, doing #experiments, and studying #space and the #planets. Landon's favorite activity right now is working on a project where he collects #books and sends them to Children's #Hospitals. He loves to #read. The whole idea stemmed from him cleaning out his book collection and weeding out the lower level 'kiddy' books that are no longer challenging for him. He came up with the idea to send them to other kids who might like to read, just like he does. He truly had a huge #heart and we do not let anything stand in our way of bringing joy and happiness to others." Landon, we love that you are an advocate for yourself and for all those with Autism. We are touched by the joy you bring others by sending your old books to Children's Hospitals by nurturing a love of reading. May your kind heart and love for people guide you.
Landon is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Renae. This is her story!
Renae is 7 years old. According to her rockstar mom, Tiffany, "She was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and Celiacs Disease in November 2016. This was a shock to our family, since she was a #thriving, #happy, #healthy #girl. Just two months ago she had her annual physical with no signs of illness.
Type 1 Diabetes means she requires insulin injections before every meal, plus an additional insulin injection at bedtime. Her meals have specific requirements - such as time of day, amount of protein and carbohydrates. Her blood sugar has to be checked throughout the day, and for us this is all new. We are learning which numbers are normal, how to respond to highs and lows, and what symptoms to look for as indicators of problems. This means 10 or more finger pricks daily.
Celiac's Disease means she is restricted to a "gluten-free" diet. We've learned this is not uncommon for children to have both diagnosis at the same time. While shopping for Gluten Free foods is more common, planning meals with new ingredients and uncertain results is an added challenge. Right now, there is no "go-to" or "to-go" dinner.
While this news was overwhelming, I am encouraged by the resources and outreach of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, our family, friends, school community and connections shared to Diabetes bloggers who share their stories of #strength and #resilience. We've heard repeatedly, "It gets easier!" My child enjoys #drawing, #dancing, writing #songs, #baking and #basketball. Her basketball team is The Lady Falcons!
My child is amazing because just one day home from the hospital, she wrote a song about her experience that filled our hearts with joy:
"Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey!
I'm a girl with diabetes and I think you should know: I take shots every day. Do they hurt? Oh, no.
Renae, your #strength and #determination move us all. You let nothing get in your way. Your #attitude determines your thoughts and actions and you choose to remain #positive. You shine because of it.
Ranae is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Mila! This is her story.
Unadoptable! That's the term that the Chinese government officials labeled girls like Mila at their orphanage in China. After their journey to bring her to America, her mother, Marta, explains the beauty and love this sweet little girl brings to all she encounters, and how this word is complete nonsense.
According to her courageous mom, Marta, "Mila will be three in December. She has Down syndrome and has been home two months now. She was adopted from China. This diagnosis means Mila is a very #happy and #joyful #child. It also means she will have to work a little bit harder to reach her goals but we will be there for her every step of the way! We are her family now! We knew this the moment we saw her face on the screen that we absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt belong together.
Mila loves #music and simply cannot help but to #move her body to the right beat. Her favorite activity is to #sing along with the #song. She does this with her own special kind of words.
Mila has transformed our view on the world. She opened our eyes to things we were so very blind to just a few short months ago. She has opened the door for many rich #conversations, and removed distractions from our midst. She has brought a new kind of #joy into our home. Her joy added to our joy and well, it is just so joyful here in our home now! She makes everything more fun. We are so thankful for the beautiful gift of Down syndrome! Because that is how we see it and we believe the world needs to see this way as well. Please follow Mila's journey on Instagram @chosenforjoy and our adoption blog http://www.chosenforjoy.com/
Mila, never stop singing and dancing! Move the world with your rhythm. Keep spreading joy. You spread happiness to all those you encounter.
Mila is #JustLikeYou
Project just like you is proud to present Blake! This is his story.
Blake is 5 years old and diagnosed with (Late Infantile NCL Batten Disease CLN6)
#Batten disease is a rare neuro-degenerative disorder that leaves children #blind, #immobile, cognitively impaired and is #terminal. Blake's diagnosis is of one of the #rarest forms of Batten known as CLN6. A disease so rare that Blake is the 11th person alive in the world with the #condition.
Blake's tireless mom, Beth, writes if she could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew sooner. It truly gives new meaning to living in the present. "My child enjoys: #Thomas the #Train, #swimming, #seaanimals, and giving his baby #brother#kisses.
My child is awesome because despite his diagnosis he will teach the world #empathy, #compassion and #love, something he has shown since he was born. He has always been the child to be with other children who are hurting to comfort them and show them that everything will be ok. Blake will show the world what true #acceptance and #inclusion."
Blake is #JustLikeYou
***PLEASE SHARE! Blake's family would like to #connect with another family who has Batten Disease. It is so rare that we are hoping to through your shares, they can connect with another family. They also are in a race against time to raise $200,000 before December 31st for the mounting medical bills. If you feel so inclined to contribute on their gofundme page, they greatly appreciate help. There is also a corporate matching page for tax deductions on the crowdrise page. Thank you.*** https://www.gofundme.com/brave-blakecure-batten-disease
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Tina! This is her story.
According to her compassionate mother, Barbara, "My daughter Tina survived a #stroke before birth. We had no idea anything was wrong until she started missing milestones at 3 months. An MRI gave us this surprising #diagnosis. Who knew an unborn baby could have a stroke? Her #left-sided #weakness became more apparent as she became a more active child.
As she's aged, various other diagnoses have been added, as a result of the stroke. Her #vision has always been #impacted, and resulted in tiny bifocals at 18 months. She wore a leg #brace from the time she could walk, until about age 12, when she decided she would not wear it anymore. She developed #seizures at age 4. Later, we discovered that her vision is missing on the left side of each eye." School has been a challenge, with #ADHD and other learning issues that surfaced.
None of this slows Tina down though from enjoying her favorite activities! She loves #anime, Guardians of the Galaxy, #Minecraft and #YouTube. She is enjoying #math, #science, #art and #PE during her freshman year at High School.
Barbara continues, "At age 14, I'm delighted to say she's a feisty teenager. She's constantly accomplishing things I thought would be beyond her abilities. Pretty much, if she decides she'll do it, she does. She may not look like anyone else doing this same thing, but she gets the job done. I've come to learn that she's not disabled, just #differently #abled!" Tina, we love that you continue to accomplish great things with determination! It is this determination that defines your life, not your obstacles. May you continue to be courageous and live life with passion and perseverance!
Tina is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Olive! This is her story.
Olive is three years old and diagnosed with #Autism. According to her brave mom, Ashley, "Olive is a very smart, social, and happy little girl, but her mind processes information differently than her neuro-typical peers. This means she needs extra help learning certain skills that come more easily to other children like #social skills, self-help, focusing/following directions, as well as processing her thoughts, emotions, and outside stimuli because she can become overwhelmed by her own feelings and environment more quickly than other kids her age.
When Olive isn’t busy with preschool, ABA/Occupational/Speech Therapy, or hanging out with her awesome play group friends, she enjoys playing pretend with all of her #StarWars/#Marvel/#Disney/#Pixar#toys, building with #Legos and #Play-doh, snuggling and rough housing with her little sister, building #sandcastles on the #beach, going to the #zoo, watching other kids’ YouTube channels on her Kindle, shopping at Target, and #dancing even when there’s no #music playing.
Olive is awesome because she has a very unique way of looking at the world. She finds something interesting and beautiful in the seemingly mundane and never fails to find joy in simple things. She is never afraid to be true to herself. She is #fearless when it comes to meeting new #people and making new #friends. She brings a #smile to anyone who meets her and loves to bring any one willing to join her into her lively #imagination. She operates on her own wave-length, oblivious of her many dichotomies and contradictions. She is both a #princess and a #superhero, an #explorer and a #villain. She loves to #play in the #dirt and put on makeup. She is both incredibly sensitive and ferocious at #heart. Her hair, like her spirit, can never be tamed. She loves to laugh and her greatest fear is to run out of #playdoh.
Olive, we love that your spirit can never be tamed. We love that you are fearless and kind. You are full of life and fun. Keep exploring, keep climbing new heights and seeking new adventures.
Olive is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Delphine! This is her story.
According to her advocacy mom, Beth, "My daughter is Delphine and she is 18 months old. Del was diagnosed with Down syndrome when she was 3 days old. Down syndrome is not what she is, it is simply a part of who she is. She is a #daughter, a #sister, a #granddaughter, a #niece, a #friend, and a #gift from #heaven. We do not care that she will learn to do things differently, we all learn things differently.
When I first found out she had Down syndrome, I was sad for my husband, as I thought at the time, he would never be able to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day. I laugh now, because I know that is simply NOT true. If she wants to get married, she can. She will be able to do whatever it is she wants to do. Delphine is like any other child, she loves to #play with her older #brother, give #kisses and play with her #toys. When we go to the store, she always waves at everyone, now she blows kisses to everyone that waves back. My child is awesome because she has brought so much #light, #love and #laughter to our family. Delphine has changed the way we look at the world. She is the epitome of #acceptance and when we look at her, all we see is our daughter. She has completed us. She is the part that was missing from our lives.
Delphine, you have a bright and exhilarating future ahead! You live in an exciting time. You can live out your dreams with confidence and strength. We cannot wait to for you to find out all the wonderful opportunities in store and what path you will choose! Be bold. Be confident. Be amazing.
Delphine is #JustLikeYou
Follow Delphine's journey:
Project: Just Like You is proud to present C! This is his story.
C is 6 years old and diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. According to his mom, Courtnie, "My child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at age three. Early on, we noticed that my son had trouble with regulating his emotions. Transitions were extremely hard and he also had a speech delay. Autism spectrum disorder is a spectrum disorder and that means that many children who are diagnosed have different areas of concern. Some children are non-verbal and others may be completely verbal. Some children may have hyper sensory issues and others may have hypo sensory issues. In addition, many children struggle with transitions, change may be difficult, loud noises may be hard to cope with, and you may sometimes see an autistic child flap their hands or walk on their toes. All autistic children are different.
Today, my son is doing outstandingly well. He has defied the odds and proven many professionals wrong. He is in a general education first grade class, his social skills have improved dramatically, and he has developed coping mechanisms to regulate his emotions. I believe in early intervention. My son has been in speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, music therapy, and applied behavior analysis. We used different combinations of therapies in the early years with speech and occupational therapy being a constant for over three years. These therapies in combination with structure and routine at home have made all the difference. My child is my super hero.
My child absolutely loves music! It is not uncommon to see him dancing up a storm while he is listening to his IPod. He loves everything from Blake Shelton to Flo Rida. My child also loves to hang out with his brothers and cousins. Some of their favorite activities together include playing video games in the winter and swimming in the summer.
C, may your love for life always radiate through you. May you always continue to try things that challenge you and grow from these experiences. Stay passionate for people and set an example to us all on kindness and joy.
C is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Bradley!
We are celebrating Inclusive Schools Week by highlighting a child and sharing an activity they enjoy doing accompanied with a quote from someone close to them.
Bradley is in 1st grade. Here he is pictured with his twin brother. "I like to hang out with my twin brother Bradley at Grandma's house...we chase each other around and splash in her water bucket!"
Bradley is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Luke!
We are celebrating Inclusive Schools Week by highlighting a child and sharing an activity they enjoy doing accompanied by a quote from someone close to them.
Luke (on the left) is in 2nd grade. Here he is pictured with his friend Gavin. Luke and Gavin are great friends. Gavin says Luke is a friend "who is very nice".
Luke is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Isaac!
We are celebrating Inclusive Schools Week by highlighting a child and sharing an activity they enjoy doing accompanied by a quote from someone close to them. Isaac (far right with a heart warming smile and his backpack) is in Kindergarten. "Isaac is a sweet boy who is continuously growing, progressing, and learning more and more each day. He always has a smile on his face and loves interacting with others. He shows great potential in becoming a future soccer star!" Jessica
Isaac is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Vincent!
We are celebrating Inclusive Schools Week by highlighting a child and sharing an activity they enjoy doing accompanied by an quote from someone close to them.
Vincent is in 3rd grade. He uses a #communication #device to tell others what he needs. According to his mom, Christine, "From everyone we know, he is described as a sweet, happy kid who loves #hiking, #walks, and #swinging. He sometimes thinks he's a #chef and the biggest food critic. He's often #humming his favorite #songs throughout the day."
Vincent is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Ashlyn! This is her story.
Ashlyn is 8 years old. According to her mom, Susan, "She enjoys #dance, #art, and #cooking. She is on the dance #team at her dance #studio so she also competes in #dance, which she loves." "Ashlyn is diagnosed with #Dyslexia, #dysgraphia, #visual #processing #disorder, #sensory#issues and #anxiety. Therefore she struggles to #read and #write, #copy information from the board to her paper, she suffers from short term #memory #loss, and many other #educational issues. She also has convergence excess and convergence insufficiency (1 in each eye). She has 20/20 vision but when her eyes try to work together she struggles to see and she suffers from anxiety most likely related to her struggles with #school."
Susan wishes to spread hope to new parents by writing, "so many people have these issues. One in five children suffer from dyslexia alone and many of the other issues she has is directly related to dyslexia and also very common. When seeing her test results, I was a bit overwhelmed but realizing that many of these things are linked together has made it easier to tackle. Ashlyn has struggled to read and write since she started school but she has never quit. There are days that she comes home in tears from exhaustion yet she wakes up the next day and does it all again. She is such a kind little girl, she is always thinking of others and very aware of everyone around her including their feelings, mood, needs, etc. She has an amazing since of #humor and #laugh. When she walks into the room, she puts a #smile on everyone's face and she will make you feel like you are the most important person in the world." "Ashlyn is awesome because she is a fighter. She is one of the bravest and strongest kids I know. She sees a challenge and faces it head on. She is a hard worker and never gives up." Ashlyn, despite your challenges, you keep pushing ahead. Keep living life by doing the things you are passionate about. Believe in your inner strength. Believe you can tackle the most difficult challenges with your talents and gifts you have been given.
Ashlyn is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Joe! This is his story.
Joe is 8 years old. He enjoys listening to #music he can #dance to, eating #popcorn, watching Daniel Tiger and reading Pete the Cat #books. He's new to the Special Olympics and competes at #bowling for now. Joe does a couple of games every other week or so. He has officially just started in the Special Olympics, but he's been doing Little Feet Meets through our local schools for about three years.
His mother Lia writes that to "celebrate with their child they have spontaneous kitchen dancing."
Joe has an unidentified genetic syndrome -- still working on getting a name for it! He has what doctors have called "a constellation of issues" -- intellectual disability, short stature, low muscle tone, difficulty with coordination and balance, completely nonverbal communication -- but the testing has not turned up a helpful answer of "______ syndrome" to explain all of it.
If Lia could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wants people to know is everything is going to be fine, really! Things will not go as expected, but they will still be pretty great. You'll meet people, learn things and have experiences that otherwise would not be part of your world, and you'll be so, so grateful for them.
Joe, we all want to join you in spontaneous kitchen dancing! We want to partake in your energy and fun spirit. No matter what comes your way, you know how to hold your head high and keep on dancing. May your joy and zest for living always be strong.
Joe is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Karen! This is her story.
Karen is 31 years old and runs with a running group, swims with other Special Olympic athletes, bowls and works out. She competes in running and swimming events in the Special Olympics.
According to her father, Ed, "Karen also runs marathons, so maintaining a strict training schedule is important. Karen increases her long runs each week and cross trains with swimming and yoga. Karen has three brothers so she has always been competitive! Although she participated in youth baseball, Special Olympics soccer and basketball, she was never comfortable. Karen started running in Intermediate School at age 12. She could not tolerate the loud noises, such as bells and whistles, in the gym during P.E., the Adaptive P.E. teacher identified this and arranged for her to run on the track during gym time. She recognized Karen’s potential.
She went on to represent the United States at the Special Olympics World games in #Ireland, #Greece and Los Angeles; travel and run with the Law Enforcement Torch Run group to the Special Olympics World Games in China; and complete 21 marathons! To celebrate her successes, they go out as a family for peanut butter milkshake after races!
Karen has Intellectual Disabilities. There is no specific diagnosis. Intellectual Disability is characterized by significant limitations in learning, reasoning and problem solving as well as everyday social and practical skills." We asked her father Ed if he could go back in time to the diagnosis, what is the one thing he wished he knew now. His reply: "It is important to tap into available resources to learn as much as possible. The ultimate goal is to prepare a child with special needs to be a respected member of society. We have to accept the limitations that our children have, however we should always support them and give them every opportunity to achieve their full potential." Karen’s participation in Special Olympics continues to build her confidence. Karen has told others, Don’t ever let anybody tell you can’t do something. Work hard and your dreams will come true."
Karen is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jenna! This is her story.
Jenna is one of the special #athletes highlighted this week with Special Olympics Virginia.
Jenna is 21 years old. According to her mom Beth, "Jenna loves #people. She likes being around people and watching people. She loves to race with United Athletics, particularly #triathlons, and to go very very fast. Jenna likes to #dance and #laugh. And Jenna in particular, likes boys." Beth continues, "with Special Olympics, Jenna has #bowled, walked #track, #swam with the skills program, and tried to play #volleyball and #basketball. Jenna enjoys swimming the most. The water seems to calm her. She trains with the Special Olympics swims once a week." Jenna began Special Olympics with bowling in Arizona when she was 8 years old.
A really fun memory and celebration was on Jenna’s 16h birthday, when "we took her to Windy Hills and helped her drive a go-cart, because everyone should drive when they turn 16! For her 18th birthday, she was the poster child for Special Olympics and helped to open the Virginia State games. Everyone sang her happy birthday while she was on stage. And when she turned 21, she had a bowl a thon and raised $3000 for one of her favorite charities United Athletics.
Jenna was diagnosed with Cerebral Folate Deficiency Syndrome. In basic terms this means Jenna has a difficult time converting folic acid into folinic acid which is vital to the overall functioning of a body.
If Beth could go back in time to the diagnosis, what is the one thing you wish you knew now? "To Never stop trying and never stop believing in your child and yourself. I was told when she was 6 mths old by an MD that she would never roll over, never sit up, never talk and would need to live in an institution. That didn’t work for us, and I simply helped Jenna do what she wanted to do.
Currently, she is in the process of starting her own dog treat company, Jenz Bars. Jenna, today you not only an active member on the Special Olympics and race in triathlons, you are starting your own #business! You are the epitome of inspiration and courage!
Jenna is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Nicholas! This is his story.
Nicholas is one of the highlighted athletes representing Special Olympics Virginia this week.
Nicholas is 7 and will be 8 on December 16th.
According to his mom, Traci, "he enjoys playing #basketball, #soccer, #swimming, listening to #music, riding his #bike and being with the ones he loves, especially his #brother, Jacob. He is currently a "Young Athlete" and participates in the 25 meter Fun Run. Currently there is no "real" practice for this sport, but he participates in #practice and #games at the #YMCA (inclusive) soccer with his classmates. Nick has been in involved in Special Olympics, VA since Summer 2012." Traci writes, "We celebrate the small things and the major milestones the same, lots of #praise, enthusiastic #excitement, #love and usually ice cream with M&M's or course!" Nick was diagnosed at birth with Down syndrome. Traci continues, "Nicholas is really the same as any other child...he just happens to have a triple copy if his 21st chromosome, it helps makes him who he is, but doesn't define or limit him in any way. He learns just like other children, but it does take him a little longer especially with his language delay. He is very "identifiable" because of his physical features, people that we don't recognize can spot him in a crowd of people and come rushing over to say hello! It is a wonderful community of support and love. And...Nicholas is like the mayor of a small town, greets everyone with #happiness...a #smile, #wave, #hug or high five!"
Nicholas, you ARE #perfect the way you are. We are attracted to your #smile, your love for people, and your friendly disposition. You naturally know how to draw a crowd with your sheer #joy. Keep striving to the best you can be with the many gifts and talents you are given. Stay inquisitive. Stay fearless. Stay courageous.
Nicholas is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Scott! This is his story. Scott is one of the featured athletes of the Special Olympics Virginia.
Scott is 25 years old. He enjoys listening to music, playing #music on his keyboard/guitar, watching #movies, and taking #walks with his #dog. Scott competes in #soccer skills, #basketball skills, and #aquatics.
Scott has been participating since he was 8 ½ years old. Currently, he practices 1x a week approximately 5 months a year for aquatics at the #YMCA with other athletes (it’s a local event in the fall and a regional/state event in the spring), basketball/soccer--he practices at home 2-3 times a week 6 weeks prior to the state event.
His mom, Joanne, states "to celebrate Scott's victories, they usually celebrate at Dominoes, a favorite restaurant of the family. That’s where all our family birthday parties/celebrations are. Party/celebrations for Scott means #dip, #chips, #pizza and music!" Scott was diagnosed with: A chromosome disorder: Balanced Translocation of Chromosomes 7 & 18.The DSM diagnosis include Intellectual Disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD. He also has a sleep disorder.
This means that Scott is essentially a 2-4 year old in a 25 year old body. He loves simplicity and the basics. As long as he has good music, good food, movies and balls, life is good. He loves to dress-up in nice clothes and dancing. Paper/pencil stuff is not for him.
If Joanne could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing you wish you knew now is that life is not over, it’s just a different life and it can be lots of fun. It will be different than what you anticipate. Every family has its ups and downs, you just need to let go of what is “traditionally” expected and do what you need to do to make your family work. There are times you need to conform to what is expected, and you can, or try to and the other times just be you!
Scott, you have a smile that lights up a room! May you always enjoy the essentials of life- good music, good food, family, and friends, and a good game of soccer. Keep dancing to the rhythm and beat of life with gusto!
Scott is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Sophia! This is her story.
Sophia is 6 years old and she enjoys #dancing, #drawing, her Daisy Girl Scout troop, playing with #friends, #hugging, and #helping around the house.
Sophia is diagonised with Down syndrome. She is globally delayed. If her mom, Jill, could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wishes she knew now is she is our prize jewel and I would tell myself that I shouldn't have been so worried." My child is awesome because she just is! Sophia adds #light to every room she walks in. She brings so much #joy to our lives and all who encounter her. We feel really lucky that she's our daughter." Sophia, may your smile and joy lead you through any situation. May those around you be comforted by your kind and gentle spirit. Be #courageous. Be #brave. You are #perfect just the way you are.
Sophia is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Markey! This is his story.
Marky is 13 years old. Marky loves to swim, he is an amazing gamer, he can complete puzzles in record time and spelling is his favorite subject. His favorite activities include Comic Books & Nate. He loves to watch cartoons and Dave & Busters is a winter must!
Markey is diagnosed with #Autism. According to his mom, Carissa, this means, "That our star will always do things a little bit differently but is capable and if given the chance, will #teach you something along the way." And if she could go back to the diagnosis the one thing she wishes she knew is "I was not alone. I felt so alone, I did not have resources nor the support from friends and family. 13 years ago seems like a lifetime with how much has changed to present time. Today, I can walk into a room and scream with courage, "my son has Autism". Back then, I probably would not have walked into the room." "Markey #smiles. He smiles all the time. He does not know how to lie. He aims to please. He #loves with his whole #heart.
He teaches #perspective in all he does, without ever knowing it. Each day brings new #challenges but each day also brings #hope. He is the kindest young man, he teaches by example and his heart is pure.
We don't know what the future holds, but we are on a mission to have him be #accepted and join in as much as he can." Markey, keep loving with your whole heart. Keep smiling. We know you are so capable and every day you accept new challenges and conquer them. We know you will teach us all new and unique ways of learning and living life. You give us all hope of a better tomorrow!
Markey is #JustLikeYou
Markey's mom, Carissa, is a tireless advocate and strong voice. She created the webpage called www.knowdifferent.net
On Facebook it's: https://www.facebook.com/knowdifferentRVA/
It is a site for special needs families to share, gain info and learn of resources. The site is her passion and her goal is to have all families know we are #KNOWDifferent.
They love to have guest writers share through art, words or videos.
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Zahliyah! This is her story.
Zahliyah, "Liyah" is 3 years old and enjoys dancing and singing her favorite song Juju on the beat. According to her mom, Jatori, she also "calls my name every second" and enjoys #laughing.
My child was diagnosed with Trisomy 21 aka Down syndrome. This is a genetic chromosome 21 disorder causing development and intellectual delays.
If Jatori could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wishes she knew now is that she would be born with a heart disorder. "Knowing my child would have surgery to repair her heart drove me insane. They repaired it at 4 months old and she is now 3 she is fine and well no more surgeries." Zahliyah is awesome because she "loves #counting and playing paper rock scissors. She is doing sign language that I never knew she knew how to do." Zahliyah, keep laughing, dancing, and spreading your #joy! We all love your #smile and your bubbly #personality.
Zahliyah is #JustLikeYou
Zahliyah can be followed on Instagram @liyahboo03
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Walter! This is his story.
Walter is 5 years old. He enjoys doing anything #outdoors! He is a very physical little boy and his siblings won’t let him say “I can’t”. They expect him to keep up, and that is amazing for him. He loves to make up stories to #play and he loves #movies. He thinks he’s the funniest thing ever, and invests completely in his slapstick #humor. Even if no one else gets it, he knows he’s funny. He is very friendly and can really read others emotions pretty well.
According to his mom, Elaine, "Walter was diagnosed with a deletion of information on his 4th chromosome. His karyotype is 4q34.1q34.3. He is also diagnosed with Pierre Robin Sequence.
Elaine continues, "his diagnosis is pretty rare, so we are still figuring it all out. His geneticist actually said “I will probably learn more from you about this disorder than you will from me” the first time we received his diagnosis." If she could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew that it was NOT the end of the world and he would still have a great life!! I wish I knew that it absolutely was going to be harder than raising a child with normal development but that I was strong enough to do it. I wish I knew about all the therapists, support and resources out there for families with special needs children."
"My child is awesome because he is so caring! He really thinks of others when he is playing and working. He lives life and is not afraid of anything. He lives life and is not afraid of anything. He can make friends with a wall! He loves #God and is very deep in his discussions about and with God. It’s amazing to hear." Walter, keep laughing. We love that you always keep trying, no matter what the challenge is. Never, ever give up! And always keep your faith, courage, and kindness alive. These will help you through any situation. Walter is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Aadvik! This is his story! Today is Aadvik's birthday! He is 3 today! Please help us wish him a happy birthday! 🎉🎁🎈Aadvik also is part of our global initiative as he and his family live in India!
Aadvik is 3 years old TODAY!! He loves playing with cars like any typical boy. He enjoys #car rides, #alphabets and #numbers are his new craze. He can say 2,3,4,10. He is on his way to learning the rest.
Aadvik was diagnosed with #autism when he was 21 months old. According to his mother, Deepika, "Honestly this diagnosis helped us to know how we can work on him. I knew he was different from the kids of his age but never knew how? This diagnosis opened the doors of awareness for us and we looked out for the best possible ways to help him." If Deepika could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes knew about autism earlier. "I never understood the common signs of not responding to his name, avoiding eye contact, not social, no smiling etc. I wish I was more aware about it. The earlier we receive the diagnosis, the better we can help our kids." "My child is awesome because he has his own little personality that I love. Though he is still non verbal but he is #inquisitive, #smart, #witty, #mischievous. He is always #exploring everything around him. And most importantly he loves me and his papa the most. He is my world." Aadvik, we love your determination to learn to speak! We know you will take that same determined spirit to everything you learn throughout life. Keep exploring and learning new things! We know great things are in store for you. Aadvik is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jack! This is his story.
Jack is 7 years old. He enjoys #dancing, #boating, playing #baseball, #soccer, #basketball, cheering for the Cincinnati Reds, #playing with his cousins and friends from #school, #swimming, #traveling, setting up Matchbox car tracks and marble runs, and doing obstacle courses.
Jack just danced in the Cincinnati Ballet’s Nutcracker. He was the first person with Down syndrome to ever dance in the Cincinnati Ballet. Jack earned the spot due to his enrollment in the Ballet’s Ballet Moves class, a program designed in collaboration with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center for children with Down syndrome. He worked hard to learn his choreography and all of the details of his performance, and when the time to perform came, Jack rocked his part out perfectly! If his mom, Ashley, could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew "how many amazing friends we would make our journey. Jack’s therapists and physicians have become some of our best friends, and we’ve made incredible, deep, real connections with some many other families that are impacted with the special needs community. Our hearts have grown so immensely with these relationships." Ashley continues, "My child is awesome because he’s Jack! Jack lights up a room like nobody’s business. He is hysterical, telling jokes even though he’s somewhat non-verbal, teasing people with his eyes and gestures, and busting out dance moves with spontaneity. Jack teaches us to slow down when life moves too quickly and to ignore the details when we get bogged down in them."
Jack, you just made history with the Cincinnati Ballet because you continued to work hard and shine in your classes and in practice. You set the example that when one works hard, they can accomplish anything! We are so inspired by your determination and motivation to succeed! Keep playing and working hard in all you do!
Jack is #JustLikeYou
Photo credit: @cincinnatiballet and Peter Mueller
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Zoey! This is her story. Zoey is 6 years old and enjoys #art, #math, and #reading. She also really loves being #outdoors and eating fruit snacks.
She was diagnosed with Ulnar Dysplasia, Asperger's/mild Autism, and sensory processing disorder.
#ULNARDYSPLASIA: She has only two fingers and a thumb on her left hand, and the left arm is slightly shorter than the right. As a baby, the two fingers were webbed together and she had to have surgery to separate them and a skin graft.
#ASPERGER'S/AUTISM/SPD: She has had some social challenges, anxiety and struggles with sensory seeking or becoming over-stimulated at times, but she has come a LONG way. She is also SUPER #smart and innately excels at math. In her 3rd month of kindergarten she is already reading #chapterbooks and has been known to do division in her head.
If her mom, Shenoah, could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew at the time of diagnosis-
ULNAR DYSPLASIA: That we were absolutely making the right decision when we had the surgery to separate her fingers, but make more handprints first so you can always remember that baby hand the way it was at birth!
ASPERGER'S/AUTISM/SPD: How to go about getting a diagnosis! We actually sort of lucked into a situation where she was evaluated and diagnosed as part of a trial. I still don't know what the proper channels are and who you go to for a diagnosis like this. A psychologist? OT? Pediatrician? It is all SO confusing!
Shenoah continues, "She [Zoey] wakes up every morning with a #smile, ready to take on the day. Her days can sometimes be harder than those of the average kid, but she doesn't even realize that. It has never occurred to her to think that someone might consider her to be "different." Her self-confidence and love of self is inspiring! She also happens to be #brilliant, #beautiful and a quite talented #artist, if I do say so!" Zoey, may your self confidence always shine through. May you paint this world a little brighter and kinder with your love for art and beauty. We cannot wait to see what life has in store for you and all the amazing places you will go! Zoey is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Waylon! This is his story.
Waylon just turned 1 on December 8th! He just started #walking a couple weeks ago and is always on the go. He loves to be #outside and enjoys terrorizing his big #sister.
Waylon was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. It is a combination of four defects, basically a large hole in his heart caused his heart valve to grow on top of his lung valve, causing it to be very narrow and would restrict the amount of oxygen in his blood.
If his mom, Kara, could go back in time, the one thing she wishes she knew then is "not to get so absorbed in his diagnosis. There were definitely times that I got so wrapped up in searching, googling or speculating that I missed out on enjoying the first few weeks of him as a newborn. Of course, it was important to read about his condition but there comes a point when you just have to realize, it is what it is and accept it. It may not have been the journey we had imagined but this is how he came to us and now this is the journey we are on together." Kara continues "My child is awesome because even with everything he has endured this last year, he remains the #happiest and most #easygoing little guy. He is amazing because of the strength he has displayed and the strength he has given us. Nothing can prepare you for your child's open heart #surgery but he got us through it. He has surgery on a Monday morning and we were home by lunch time that following Friday, just four days later. If that isn't amazing, I don't know what is!" Waylon, you have endured so much in your new journey on this earth, and yet you still smile, play, and radiate hope. You are determined to not let anything slow you down. May your spirit and strength be strong. Waylon is #JustLikeYou
Follow Waylon's journey on FB- TheWarrior_Way
Waylon's family works alongside #BabyJack&Co. and #Spreadthelovey.com project. Kara writes, "It has been so rewarding to collect donations and give these lovey blankets to other kids in tough situations. We are getting ready to take some to our local NICU at the hospital where Waylon was born in honor of his birthday."
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Carter! This is his story.
Carter aka C, or C-Money is 4 years old. Carter loves, sports, digging in the mud, swimming, going to the beach, climbing, and playing tag with his older sister Sophia.
This past May, Carter was diagnosed with Sanfilippo Syndrome Type A. Sanfilippo syndrome (also known as MPS III) is a rapidly degenerative and terminal disease in children. Often times it is referred to as “Children’s Alzheimer’s”. Just like how someone with Alzheimer’s looses their skills, memory, being able to name people, places, and things, the same thing happens to these children. Although this is considered to be a “rare” disease it is not so rare. One out of every one hundred and thirty three people is a carrier of this disease. Every day it goes misdiagnosed; usually as autism as it shares many of the same early signs.
On average around five years old, children with Sanfilippo Syndrome will start to lose their speech and language. They then will lose their mobility, memory, develop seizures and painful movement disorders before untimely deaths usually in their mid to late teens. There is currently no cure. However, there is a very promising gene therapy treatment that just started in May and we are hoping if it works, we will be able to give these children the chance at life that they deserve!
If she could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing Jennifer wishes she knew now is "how precious time was." She explains, "We all know time is so valuable but since getting this diagnosis, it has a new meaning. We make sure we truly live to the slogan we came up with for Carter which is, “Live today, hope for tomorrow." Carter does everything with 100% effort! If he is hugging you, loving on you, running, or playing it’s always at his maximum effort. He is so funny and brave!
Carter, we know your journey is filled with obstacles. But you have the courage and internal strength to overcome them! Always hold hope! Carter is #JustLikeYou
Follow Carter- @carterschallenge
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Arthur! This is his story.
His mom, Sylvia explains, "Arthur was diagnosed with #ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) when he was 2.5. At the time, he was almost completely #nonverbal. Between the time of his diagnosis and when he turned three years old, Arthur (with the help of some wonderfully supportive speech therapists and teachers) not only began using words, but he had a bit of a #wordsplosion and gained over 500 new vocabulary terms in the span of a month. Aside from being able to speak, Arthur also decided to take things a step or two (or ten) further. He can #spell almost any word he hears, read entire books aloud, and can say the alphabet....backwards! When Arthur isn't busy spelling impossibly hard words or #reading #books to his younger sister, he enjoys visiting the library, going on walks to the local bakery with his family, and sparring with pirates at the Renaissance Festival.
Arthur's zest for life and his effervescent personality are contagious. He brightens up the room, and he tells some fiercely funny knock-knock #jokes. I love being a part of this journey with him, and I'm looking forward to watching him grow and develop as he overcomes obstacles (with a style and flair singular to him)." Arthur, your ability to read is outstanding! Your ferocious appetite for #inguistics and #words will always be an incredible asset on your journey in life. Stay fiercely funny. Stay close to your family and friends, for they will always be there for you. Overcome your challenges with grace and character and nothing can stand in your way.
Arthur is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Emmalee! This is her story.
Emmalee is 8 1/2 years old and enjoys #watching #DVD's ( Dora, Paw Patrol, Bubble Guppies), playing with matchbox #cars, #babydolls and #learning #games on a #tablet.
Emmalee is diagnosed with #Hyperexplexia, #Autism and more recently, #ADD/#ADHD Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Hyperexplexia is a rare disorder to her nervous system and without any medication she could suffer from seizures.
If her mom could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew "that even though she has these #disorders, they are just a label. It is not who she is. It will not limit her in any way. She's #nonverbal for the most part, but I know what she wants and/or needs. She's just a child learning new things everyday just like any other child." Her mom continues, "My child is awesome because she has the greatest smile! she gets so happy when she sees me and says "Mom!". Hearing her voice just brightens my day.
She surprises me with #new #words and learning new things. When this happens you just want to tell everyone. They might not understand why your so excited about her doing something at 7 or 8 when their "normal" child did the same thing at a way earlier age. Parents of special needs children understand and will celebrate the new milestones with you no matter what age they are. I have met some wonderful mom's of other special needs children, many of which have a different diagnosis than my child." Emmalee, you are progressing so well and in your own way. You are not a label or a diagnosis, you are a growing young girl with a very bright future! Nothing will limit you, unless you decide it so. Keep smiling! Keep learning! Keep pushing ahead.
Emmalee is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Hayden! This is her story.
Hayden is 3 years old. Hayden loves being outside and running around. She loves #animals and taking care of them. She also loves #cars and fixing anything that has wheels on it.
Hayden is diagnosed with Beckwith-Wiedemann Syndrome. It is a growth disorder.
It can cause one side, the whole body or parts to grow faster (hemihyperplasia). Many children have macroglossia (large tongue) that will need surgery. Children with BWS have a higher risk of cancer and will need to do cancers screenings every 6 weeks - 3 months for at least 8 years. The good news is as they get older the chances go down and will grow into adulthood with very little problems (most likely be bigger and taller). Bws is all physical, nothing mental.
Hayden is the size of a 5 year old. She has hemi on the left side and a large spleen and large coneas in her eyes. She has had surgery on her tougne and is now in #speech and #feeding #therapy. She has #aspiration issues and is on a Necture Thick diet. As a baby she has many issues with #apnea and #earring. Along with needing SMO braces on her feet and a cranial remodeling #helmet. She has cancer screenings every 3 months.
The one thing her mom, Hannah wishes she knew at the time of diagnosis is "who she needed to see and scheduling her appointments and therapies she has to be in. But with time she now has her own Aerodigestive team and a few more specialist. After going through 8 pediatricians, she has one that works well with Hayden and doesn't mark her as just another child. And had now graduated occupational and physical therapy and is now in feeding and speech therapy." Hayden "has over come so many obsticals. She amazes me every day with her good attitude towards everything and Even when She has had a rough weeks with so many appoinments and testing, she always has a smile on." Hayden, we hope you always have a good attitude, especially when obstacles come into your life. We know you will be a great model to your little sibling of kindness, love, and perseverance. Hayden is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jaiden! This is his story.
Jaiden is 3 years old. Jaiden loves watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, anything #Minions, #JustLikeYou and #playing with any kind of #sports ball.
Jaiden is diagnosed with Trisomy 21. It is growth defect often associated with developmental and cognitive delays as well medical issues such as congenital heart defects.
If his mom Tiffany could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wished she knew now is "I wish I would have reached out more to others for support that were experiencing the same thing. My husband and I often felt alone when the chromosome report revealed the diagnosis. Most of our family and friends could not directly relate to our situation in that they had no experience parenting a child with special needs with the exception of a few people." Tiffany continues, "Jaiden is awesome because his #smile is #infectious and people are drawn to the #joy he carries. He is a ray of sunshine on any given day and will greet us with a hug and kiss upon arriving home from a long day of work. He has taught us the true meaning of #God's #unconditional #love." Jaiden, your zest for #life is #overflowing. Your outward #affection is #refreshing to all those you encounter. May you always be a model of love and kindness to everyone who has the pleasure of crossing your path.
Jaiden is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Bella! This is her story.
Bella is 2 years old. She loves going to the #beach, playing #outside, and #swimming. She loves #cookies and loves to #count everything she sees and she loves to #sing.
Bella was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, and developmental mixed expressive/receptive language delay.
Her mom Heather explains, "Bella learns and develops differently than her peers. She has some challenges with learning new concepts and thrives more on #memorization and #routines. She has #sensory challenges which she is working on in occupational therapy. Bella's main challenge so far has been with verbal communication and spoken language, but she has been working so hard in speech therapy and is improving every day. We are so incredibly proud of her." The one thing Heather wishes she knew at the time of diagnosis is "for some reason, I was needlessly devastated when Bella was diagnosed. I felt as though our world was being flipped. Now I realize Bella is the same #loving, #smart, #sweet little girl she always was, and the #diagnosis just provided the opportunity for us to get her extra services and therapies she needed. It is #new and #scary in the #beginning and the #words are sometimes difficult to hear, but the diagnosis is the key that unlocks the gate to helping your child succeed." Heather continues "Bella has the #sweetest and most #loving personality. She is always #happy, and can turn your bad day into a good one just by seeing her sweet #smile. She has the sweetest little voice that everyone loves, and when she says "I lah you" (I love you), it just melts your #heart into pieces." Bella, never stop dancing near the ocean. Spread love and kindness everywhere you go. May happiness always fill your days. Keep learning and playing. And when in doubt, eat the cookies first! Bella is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jordan! This is his story. Jordan dances with @Miracles_in_Motion_va dance group.
Jordan is 24 years old. He enjoys doing many things, but #dance is his passion. He is diagnosed with Down syndrome. And his mom Jo writes, "it has had a more positive impact on us than negative. There are so many things available to people with Special Needs and awareness is growing everyday. There are still things to do but, the Special Needs voice is being heard. Don't focus on the word "Disability"." "Jordan is an amazing person. He has developed into an incredible #dancer under the instruction of Kim Moncrief and we are so proud of all his accomplishments. Most recently, he was selected to go to Austria to compete in the Special Olympics Winter World Games Dance Competition in March. He performed on stage with artist Jason Mraz in June, and he was just hired in October by Spot On Therapy for his first job. I believe that the #discipline, #concentration and physical #skills he has developed from taking dance with Miracles in Motion has played a huge roll in all he has accomplished lately." Jordan, you continue to dance your way to victory! You have danced alongside celebrities and in national and international competitions. You are an example to us all that hard work, discipline, and perseverance pay off! Keep dancing your way to the stars! We are all excited for your new adventure at the World Games Dance Competition in March! Jordan is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Leah! This is her story. Leah dances with Miracles in Motion dance group.
Leah turned 17 on New Years Eve. She enjoys #dancing at Miracles in Motion, #church, Young Life, hanging out with #friends. Leah is diagnosed with verbal apraxia, global delay, speech and language impairment, and motor processing issues.
If her mom, Denise, could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew now to "Continue to fight for what your child needs. Whether it is a communication device or more private speech...fight for it while they are young! Get them in state funded programs as soon as possible under age 3. Continue researching...therapist are always coming up with something new to help your child. Find a therapist you and your child like...this will help a lot in the long run!" Denise continues, Leah "...always has joy in her soul. Leah has always had something special in her heart. She loves to serve others and make people happy. She has served at church in our AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed) program for several years. This year she has started volunteering in our younger Miracles in Motion company class to show the little ones that no matter what your ability is, you can help out and serve others.
Leah has been a #cheerleader for the past two years at her middle school and this year will be her 1st year cheering at high school. She is so excited to be out there with other girls her age and making people happy." Leah, may you always have a kind and serving heart. We love that you bring happiness to all those who you come in contact with. Let your joy lead you and passion for dance lead others
to find your same level of success you enjoy. Leah is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Charlotte! This is her story. Charlotte dances with Miracles in Motion dance group. Charlotte is 6 years old. Charlotte loves to #dance, ride #horses (equestrian therapy), play with #Legos and her #dolls.
She was diagnosed with Propionic Acidemia and as result of brain damage is on the Autism spectrum.
Propionic Academia is an Inborn Error of Metabolism, in which the child is missing an enzyme responsible for the metabolism of certain proteins on a cellular level. The child is unable to process toxins resulting from this lack of enzyme. Children with this disorder have low muscle tone and limited energy production.
If her mom, Kathleen, could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wishes she knew now is "at the age of 2 1/2 years old we found out about a relatively new way of helping these children with a liver transplant. We wish we knew about this treatment option earlier in Charlotte’s life. I also wish I knew what I wonderful young lady she would become. She teaches me about #love and #joy in ways I could never imagine." Kathleen continues, "Charlotte is awesome because she is always #happy and willing to try new things. She always puts a smile on the face of whoever she meets.
Charlotte has overcome so much in her short life. She was so sick as an infant until she received a liver transplant. Even though she spent so much time in a hospital, she was always brave and has always had a smile on her face. She loves to play with other children and attend school. She also is quite talented with Legos and loves to create new masterpieces. She is kind and loves to help other people however she can." Charlotte, having overcome so much already in your 6 years of life, you are already mentally stronger and ready to live life with #gusto and #boldness . Your great sense of #humor and #imagination will lead your life to new #pathways and #possibilities. May your joy and love continue to radiate off you and reflect in your life through your thoughts and actions.
Charlotte is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Amanda! This is her story. Amanda dances with Miracles in Motion dance group.
Amanda is 19 years old and enjoys #singing, #dance, #church youth group, and school. She also enjoys collecting angels and elephants.
She is diagnosed with premature birth trauma, left sided weakness, and cerebral palsy. This means she has a low IQ /and walks with a limp.
If her mom, SuAnne, could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing she wishes she knew then is "Don't let the doctors limit what they can accomplish, we were told she would never #walk or #talk. She does both and much more." SuAnne continues, "My child is awesome because she never complains and is #content. She is a good #friend. She brings #happiness to all who know her. She figures out how to do things on her on." Amanda, you have defied the odds. Not only did you prove the doctors wrong by walking and talking, you are dancing! You partake in the performing arts with your movement on stage. You bring joy to others through your work. Never stop pushing boundaries and defying odds and bringing joy to others! Amanda is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jimmy! This is his story. Jimmy dances with Miracles in Motion dance group.
Jimmy is 10 years old. He loves dancing with Miracles in Motion! He loves music in general, but when he is on stage with the lights and applause, that is his everything!! He also loves to participate in Inclusive Racing! With a jogging wheelchair, he is able to compete on a team and has completed many races, including two half-marathons! He loves the speed of the chair, the cheering, and the music during the race! He also loves skating with his dad, and he is able to use a walker and wear skates. Every year we have a huge birthday party for him at the skating rink, and he absolutely loves it. He also loves school, church, and family time. He is a social butterfly and thrives on attention.
His mom, Jen writes "he doesn't have a full diagnosis despite numerous tests, but it is suspected that he has a genetic syndrome. He also had a brain bleed around the time of birth and has cerebral palsy." Jen writes, "back [at the time of diagnosis], we wanted to know that life would go on and that we could do this. Life does go on, and the biggest thing that has surprised us is that it is so much more meaningful and fulfilling than we could have ever imagined. We have made it our mission to include Jimmy in everything we do as a family. We take him in his wheelchair apple picking in the mountains, on the sand at the beach, everywhere. We take pride in the fact that at any given time his chair may have smashed blueberries on the seat or leaves stuck in it from family hikes through our woods. We do not want his challenges to get in the way of him experiencing life.
Despite all he's been through, and all the challenges he faces every day, he never stops radiating pure happiness and love. The children in his class fight over the seat next to him. They look forward to saying hi to Jimmy, getting a smile or a high-five, and look forward to saying hi to Jimmy, getting a smile or a high-five, and reading to him, just as much as his family does."
Jimmy, your kind presence and joy is felt everywhere you go. Jimmy is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Ashley! This is her story. Ashley is 11 years old. She enjoys #singing, #dancing, and #gymnastics.
She is diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis. This causes benign #tumors in her #heart, #kidneys, and #brain. It also causes seizures. It is a major factor of Autism Spectrum Disorder.
If her mom Linda, could go back in time, she wishes she "knew about it earlier. We would have started interventions sooner." Ashley is awesome because she is a great #dancer. Ashley is also amazingly musically talented. Singer Susan Greenbaum said, "She has the best tone of any child she has ever heard." Ashley, keep following your #talents of singing and dancing. Let nothing get in your way of your #dreams and #goals. #Broadway, watch out! Ashley is on her way!
Ashley is #JustLikeYou
Daxton is 6 months old. Dax #coos, #smiles, loves attention, and is very #interactive so far. He loves Mommy's voice overall, but daddy and his older brothers' (6 and 2 years old) are a very close second. He really seems to love life so far.
His mom Stefanie writes "Daxton was tentatively diagnosed with Trisomy 21, Down's Syndrome (DS), early on in the pregnancy with several screening tests. As you can imagine, we went through a tail spin of emotions, researching, prayers, and for a short while kept it quiet from family/friends until we knew more. After having had two miscarriages, we did not risk an amniocentesis for confirmation because it would not have changed what we would have done. Some statistics show there is a 90% abortion rate for DS babies, but, without getting political, we knew this was not for us and this was our son come what may. We were encouraged to know what strides have been made for DS kids/adults in both medicine and community. We soon discovered through in-vitro ultrasound and echo-cardiogram that he had heart condition that can be common for DS babies, which essentially gave us his diagnosis.
We had an uncomplicated delivery and he came out perfectly! There was no need for the NICU as he was oxygenating better than anyone was expecting, he was the best nurser on the hall, and he was holding his own. Since he was born we have been through a number of different pediatric, genetics and cardiology appointments, as well as early intervention sessions. Luckily he has not needed any additional therapies to this point, but we fully expect the need for speech and physical therapy due to low muscle tone and developmental challenges.
Dax, you have a whole lifetime of "amazing" in front of you! You live in an exciting time where so much is changing and as you get older, your world is so bright with so much opportunity. You get to be part of incredible time! We cannot wait to see what you will do with it and how many doors will open for you!
Daxton is #JustLikeYou
Project: JustLikeYou is proud to present Daxton! This is his story and it has just begun!
Elyssa is 11 years old. She loves to draw and #color pictures of animals. Her favorite books to #read are any books about #dogs, #dinosaurs, #insects, and all sorts of animals. She also loves listening to #music and #singing... especially around the holidays! Her favorite song is " I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas." My child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. This is a disorder of the brain that may include difficulties in social interaction, repetitive behaviors, and verbal and nonverbal communication.
One thing her parent, Te, wishes he knew was that "with time she would improve many skills and know that I am not alone. Also focus on what she can do. Always take some time four yourself. You will feel better and be ready to handle whatever comes you way." Te continues "my child is awesome because she is #loving and likes to make her family #laugh! She loves #animals so much and knows all their names. Even the rare ones, this including dinosaurs!" Elyssa, you amaze us with your intense love and knowledge of animals. May you take that interest and knowledge to help make a better world for all living creatures by educating others. We know great plans in store for you with the gifts and talents you have been given. Elyssa is #JustLikeYou
Piercen is 2 years old TODAY!!! Please help us wish him a happy birthday! 🎉
He loves to #play with his #brother and #sister, #swing, EAT and #walk around like everyone else. He enjoys playing with his #cars, #trucks, #trains and #blocks.
His name comes from his dad’s passion for #firefighting. The manufacturer of the firetrucks he rides on is Pierce and we added the 'n.' Boy does Piercen love fire trucks and visiting the firehouse! His mom Brooke writes, "My child was was born pre mature and has had many health issues since day 1. He was diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) which is considered to be Cerebral Palsy, but not until this past September when he was 20 months old." In basic terms, this means that a portion of the white matter of his brain was damaged at birth and affects his motor development.
She continues, "If I could go back in time to the diagnosis, I would have had his brain checked long before he was almost 2. I wish I had known the signs and symptoms of PVL so he could have started #Physical, #Occupational, and #speech therapy earlier. "My child is awesome because his brain may have been holding him back from doing things kids his age are able to do, but one thing is for sure, his heart is strong and he has never lacked the love for this life he has been given. He fights every day to get stronger and better than the last, all with a smile on his face. In 4 short months of being in therapy, Piercen has learned to walk independently, communicate to us better, and he is beating the odds." Piercen, you are beating the odds with a SMILE! Because you know whatever comes your way, or whatever anyone says in the medical community that you can't do, you know you CAN do with encouragement and love! Continue to grow stronger everyday and fly to new heights. Happy birthday little buddy, you have so many amazing opportunities awaiting you right around the coroner. Always believe it!
Piercen is #JustLikeYou
Meg is a 3 year old little girl who loves playing with her older sisters (Ally and Teagan), riding #horses and going on #bike #rides with her #Dad. She also loves #puppies, #babies and #Mickey and Minnie Mouse. She also attends a #PreK at a local elementary school.
Meg has been diagnosed with Cerebellar Hypoplasia, Cerebral Palsy and Short Stature. Due to her short stature and not gaining weight like the doctors wanted her to she also has a feeding tube. Meg has the coolest wheel chair that is pink and green and has owls on the spokes. She also uses a walker and had braces for her feet. Meg attends multiple therapy sessions each week. She is in physical therapy, speech therapy and participates in hippo therapy.
If her mom, Meredith, could go back in time for when we received her first diagnosis she wishes she "had not googled everything on the Internet. I was going through some many emotions and reading the what ifs just did not help. I would encourage any parent to wait and talk to the doctor because each child is different." Meredith continues, "Meg is the strongest little girl. She is determined to do everything everyone else is doing. She is always so happy. Her smiles lights up a room! Meg has faced multiple challenges but she never stops smiling." Meg was recently elected President for the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals in the Roanoke area. We cannot thank all of our family and friends, members of our community and individuals that we have never met for everything they have done for Meg and our family! The amount of love and support we have received is amazing!!!! Meg, your strength and positive attitude continue to touch and inspire all those around you. Your smile is contagious! And you are President for Children's Miracle Network in the Roanoke area because of how to choose to view life in a positive manner. Thank you for your courage and inspiration.
Meg is #JustLikeYou
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Glenn is 7 years old. He loves to listen to #music, play #Wii U, play with #trains and #cars, and be #outside!
He was diagnosed with #Autism and #Epilepsy.
Glenn's autism is pretty mild, but he likes things loud and he touches everything. He is a very busy boy and always on the #move.
If his mom Ashlee could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew "that it wasn't the end of the world, just the beginning of a new one. He learns things at his own pace, and sometimes in different ways, but he gets it! #Patience is everything!!" Ashlee continues, "My child is awesome because he never gives up and he is always so #positive!! Glenn is amazing because he is always #smiling, and eager to #play. He has such a wam personality and loves #helping around the house." Glenn, keep growing strong and always be comfortable with who you are and your specific talents and gifts. You have so much to offer others and so much #joy to spread. And always, always keep #smiling!
Glenn is #JustLikeYou
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Project: Just Like You is proud to share Glenn's story!
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Sasha Pina is 22 years old she enjoys #working with #children of all ages, #BMX #racing, playing with my #dog, listening to #music almost 24/7, spreading awareness of #epilepsy, hanging out with #friends, #texting, and #learning just about everything I can. "When I was young in elementary school I was diagnosed with #ADHD. Along with the ADHD came learning difficulties with comprehension issues and math. In September of 2010 I suffered a #traumatic#brain #injury from playing competitive #soccer. I still have daily struggles with the side effects from that injury like learning comprehension issues, peripheral vision loss, ringing in the ears, memory loss, and attention issues. Back around the time I was injured I went through intense physical, occupational, and speech therapy. A lot of the side effects from the injury have gotten better because of the therapy.
In 2011 I was diagnosed with #Epilepsy as a result from the injury. I can have seizure activity anywhere on my left temporal, occipital, or frontal lobe. Early in 2016 in January I was Diagnosed with refractory Epilepsy (meaning no medication has been able to control my seizures) after trying 6 different medications. In February 2016 I had VNS surgery (pacemaker for the brain) to help control my #seizures, though I still have auras (small seizures and seizure activity), and seizure activity in my sleep, things are well.
On December 22, 2016 I #graduated from #CNA school, which has been the biggest accomplishment since being diagnosed!! The people in my life including God have been my support in all of this! There is no way I could do or go through this without my support system. My family is very close and always has been but my mom has been the rock of this all! She is the main person in my life who gets me through this!
I am an #ambassador for Danny Did Foundation, the Special Project Coordinator for the Epilepsy Foundation of Nevada, and VNS Therapy ambassador (vagus nerve stimulation, the surgery I had for my seizures)
Sasha, thank you for the beautiful reminder that we are never to be ashamed of who we are and to let our light shine.
Read Sasha's full story on Facebook.
Sasha is #JustLikeYou
Mikey is 20 years old. Mikey enjoys hanging out with his #friends, #helping others, watching #sports &#movies, playing #games, observing #nature, going for #walks and #cooking. He attends #camp annually and plays #baseball for Miracle League.
Mikey is diagnosed with Lesch-Nyhan. Lesch-Nyhan is a rare genetic condition caused from a deletion of the HPRT enzyme. Symptoms of it include gout, development of excess uric acid, physical delays and self injury.
Mikey has reached many milestones in life that we never thought were possible. He has grown to become an amazing young man. We hope to continue raising awareness about his disease, so other families can receive an earlier diagnosis and begin treatment sooner.
If his mom Amy could go back in time to the diagnosis, the one thing you wished you knew now is "Mikey was diagnosed at age two and a half. At that time the doctors told us to search the Internet for information. Unfortunately there was nothing positive, including the potential for a short life span. We never expected to see him reach the age of 20 and are so blessed for each and every day we have with him." Amy continues "Mikey is a #sweet, #caring young man with an amazing sense of humor! He is #kind and always thinks of others. His #laugh can brighten any room and his #smile will warm your #heart. He has super power strength beyond this universe!" Mikey, may your smile always brighten every room and your sense of humor bring a smile to everyone you encounter. Keep beating the odds and living life with the utmost strength and courage!
Mikey is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to share Mikey's story!
To learn more visit: Lesch-Nyhan.org
This week we are celebrating adult week on Project: Just Like You!
Deanna is 41 years old. Her passion is #genealogy (I'm a professional genealogist). She owns a business in genealogy.
Please check it out on Facebook-
I also love #reading and #photography, and I #volunteer with several #animal rescue organizations.
Deanna was diagnosed with #Fibromyalgia 15 years ago. Fibromyalgia is a condition whose hallmarks are all-over body pain, insomnia, "brain fog," and extreme fatigue. It's like having the flu each and every day.
Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of exclusion; there is no medical test that will prove a person has it. Fibromyalgia is an #incurable (though non-progressive) disease that manifests differently in each person who has it, so finding the right recipe of medication and lifestyle changes that help with the pain can take some time. Fibro patients are particularly prone to depression, as are others who have "invisible illnesses" - diseases that aren't visible to the naked eye. A workplace does not understand a #sickness that comes and goes with no warning, different each day; friends don't understand why someone has to cancel plans or why it's so difficult to schedule get-togethers. It takes a very special person to be a partner to those with this disease, due to the amount of support and understanding involved. #Chronic#illness definitely shows a person who his or her friends are. For myself, I used to be athletic and incredibly driven, and now #sports are out of the question. While I still have the drive I used to, I don't have a body that cooperates. I've had to learn to be forgiving of myself and my limitations, and it will be a lifelong learning process; I have to take it day by day.
Deanna, despite daily struggles, you continue to carry on each day with strength and blend yourself in society, while in quiet pain. By sharing your story today, you #courageously #advocate for all those who suffer from Fibromyalgia. May you continue to go forward with #kindness in your #heart and #courage in your soul.
Deanna is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You celebrates adult week!
Christina is in her 30's. "I love musical #theatre, and also #Shakespeare. Being on #stage is by far one of my favorite things ever. I also love to #travel by myself or with my #family, especially being in New York City and #walking for miles. Since having kids, I'm finding more things to do that I can work on in my spare time, like crafting. Not being able to use one arm was a hurdle from the beginning. It started with: how is she going to crawl? How will she drive? Each time I saw a hurdle ahead, I would think it through, look at how I was going to overcome it, and I'd do my best. I learned how to swim as an infant, so when I joined a swim team at the age of 9, so many thought I'd fail. I didn't. I can swim a pretty fast 25 m breaststroke with one arm. I learned how to ride a bike, do my hair, get dressed. You never really think about something like getting dressed as a situation to overcome, but it was! When I was 14, I remember locking myself in a room for a day JUST so I could figure out how to do my hair. The #theatre was one of my biggest struggles. #Choreography for someone with brachial plexus is very hard, especially when your arm won't move like you want it to! In the 25 years I have been on stage, I've only had to tell audience members twice after the show about my arm. The struggles to get there are hard, and I often feel like crying when I have to modify a dance move for the entire company. All that said, the one thing I was the most worried about was how I was going to handle a baby. How would I change a diaper? Hold a bottle AND the baby? It was amazing to realize that because I had adapted my whole life, it wasn't too difficult to manage. A supportive #husband certainly helped.
Diagnosis: Erb's Brachial Plexus Palsy from Shoulder Dystocia at birth
The advice for parents and/or younger people is "...Make sure that the child knows that you are their net, and you support the journey they'll take.
Christina, you continue to amaze and overcome obstacle after obstacle with a smile. You are unstoppable!
Christina is #JustLikeYou
#ErbsBrachialPlexusPalsy from #ShoulderDystocia at #birth
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Jase!
At just 9 months old, Jase is the definition of a warrior! He has an ASD Atrial Septal Defect-commonly referred to as a "hole" in the heart), as well as Cor Triatriatum (a heart anomaly where the right atrium is divided into two chambers by a membrane). This brave boy underwent surgery on July 20th, and, according to his mom, Sue, is doing great now!
Jase adores his mommy and daddy, and especially loves playing with his brother and sister (his favorite game is Peek-a-Boo!) Jase is inquisitive, happy, and loves playing in the bathtub!
Jase is absolutely thriving and has a smile that can light up a room! Jase is #JustLikeYou!
# Project: Just Like You is proud to share Jase's story.
(photos shared with permission)
Friday is Friendship Circle of Virginia day! Today we feature Brandon. Brandon will be speaking on the evening of February 12th at the Chabad Of Virginia in Richmond, VA. It is a free event. Come and listen to Brandon!
At just 17, Brandon Farbstein has set to make a name for himself not only in the Richmond, Virginia community, but also worldwide. He has been performing as an actor for eight years, but has always been an #inspiration to many.
Brandon is a strong believer in #philanthropy and is passionate about giving back. Diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism at the age of 2, Brandon has a unique perspective on the world and aspires to inspire as many people as possible.
He is the recipient of various esteemed honors/awards, most notable being the youngest individual to ever receive Style Weekly Magazine's Top 40 Under 40. He also was honored as part of CBS 6 "Heroes Among Us" and WRIC "Positively Richmond" segments.
Brandon was selected as a speaker for TEDxRVA 2015, and his career as a speaker has since taken off. Each and every moment of his life, Brandon does anything possible to make an impact and induce much change as he can in the world. n his future, Brandon aspires to be a #broadcast#journalist as the next David Muir or Scott Pelley.
Brandon writes "No matter what comes at me- the good, the bad, or the ugly...I'm going to use it as my fuel each and everyday, to inspire and impact the world." Brandon continue to fly high, dream big, and crush your goals and aspirations!
Brandon is #JustLikeYou
Geir's story comes to us from Norway! Project: Just Like You continues to celebrate adults!
Geir Ove Himle is in his 40's. He writes "When I was little, I lived on an farm with my family. I have friends that are farmers, and I enjoy visiting them and joining them when they work with the animals. I mostly watch them work, because I'm not able to help them due do the fact that I am in a wheelchair. But I am good company.
I also enjoy my job. My job involves woodwork, like making benches and tables. I have friends at my workplace. I have an assistant, who does most of the work, but I keep an eye on things.
I have a lot of friends, and I am a social guy. I like to spend time with my friends, sometimes we go to concerts or other events. And I like the ladies:-) A few years ago, I got a baclofen-pump operated into my stomach. This helps my body relax, and I do not spasm as much as I used to. It was a very painful procedure, and I had to stay at the hospital for longer than planned. I found the situation scary, and I was afraid. I had too much morfine in my body, the doctors thought I might die. But I am still here, going strong!
I have Lesch-Nyhans syndrome and my body bears the scars of this illness.
My advice to parents that have children with my diagnose would be to not push so hard. Listen the to children, and what they believe they can do.
I would like the world around me to know that I am not stupid because I am in a wheel chair. I am also a person who enjoys a good laugh - and like some banter." Geir, no condition or diagnosis has slowed you down. You continue to live a productive life filled with your woodworking and good friends. You have endured scary situations and yet, you are still on top and going strong! May we all live a life of courage like you and be surrounded by those who love us.
Geir is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is presents LOGAN!
Logan is 14 years old. He has a sweet soul and an active life! Logan loves to #skimboard, #swim, play #golf and ride #horses!
Logan was born with Ebstein's Anomaly with a coarctation of the aorta. After 3 open #heart #surgeries. he is now living off just the right ventricle. The left has been shut off. After his 3rd surgery, Logan was diagnosed with Protein Losing Enteropathy at age 6.
Logan is unable to play contact sports, and therefore he can’t play team sports. He looks the same as any kid to the naked eye, but when people see the awesome zipper on his chest they have a lot of questions. We try to educate people when they have questions.
Logan’s super-mom, Dana, said that if she could go back to his diagnosis she wishes she had known that things get better after the initial shock of the diagnosis! She wishes she could have known that her baby would grow into a child who plays, runs, jumps and even falls just like every other kid. She explained that the diagnosis initially brought sadness and grieving the life she had dreamed for her child. She prayed and then one day it clicked: "Wow! God picked us as the parents of this amazing human". "He could have picked anyone but he picked us". She says she is honored to be his mom.
Dana wants other parents to know that when their child receives such a diagnosis, they will be on a roller coaster ride. She says It's ok to cry, it's ok to say why us? It's ok to rest and miss a day at the hospital. Parents can't be helpful if they're exhausted. Will you ever stop worrying?? Heck no, but I promise it won't consume you like it does in the beginning.
Dana says her child is awesome because he is so #strong. He doesn’t blink at getting a shot or having blood drawn. She says he has turned his journey into a strong sense of #compassion for others.
Logan is #JustLikeYou.
Project: Just Like You is proud to share Logan’s story. (photos shared with permission)
Project: Just Like You continues to celebrate adults!
Anne is 36 years old. She loves to #read, #email, #write cards and correspond with #friends, #Facebook, #sing, #yoga, #swim, go out to eat, #bowl, #movies. She loves Dolly Parton, Celine Dion, and Barbra Streisand, watching The Batchelor, Dancing with the Stars, and her #church community.
Anne was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
If her mom, Marybeth, could go back in time to the diagnosis,the one thing she wishes she knew now is "that life with Anne would be the most rewarding part of our family life. We appreciate the small things, and her siblings learned unconditional love and empathy. Her two older brothers are her biggest supporters. Anne is very, very thoughtful and has a huge spiritual connection." Marybeth continues "Anne has always tried her very hardest in all situations. She is #independent and does not like it when others try to “help” too much. She has attended a community college program for 2 years after high school and has worked in the community for over 15 years. She keeps friends for a LIFETIME! She was the first self advocate member of the local Down Syndrome Association board of directors for over 10 years, an accomplishment she is very proud of. She is a #lay reader at our church, and many in the congregation say that when she reads they are more attentive and get more out of the scripture passage. This makes her feel so great, and it is a wonderful opportunity to share her gifts. She has #advocated many times to the General Assembly, beginning in middle school, and continues to desire to have her own voice heard. It is very important to her to be a contributing member of society, and we are proud that she accomplishes that." Anne, you continue to be an advocate and leader in both your public and religious life. You have earned the respect of those in your community by the examples you set. You are a strong and active voice for not only those with Down syndrome, but all of those with special needs. And even more, your life serves as a bridge between those with special needs and those who do not. You continue to serve and educate all those around you.
Anne is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You continues to celebrate adults!
My name is Ryan and I'm a 20-year-old with #Aspergers (Autism). I was "officially" diagnosed with #Autism at age 8.
I attended public schools, a boarding school for 2 years and a private school for my last years in high school. I was lucky to have good teachers and a mom who was very active with my schooling and educating my teachers (and classmates) on autism. But, I still had struggles (and still do) with what many with autism do: making friends, having conversations, sensory issues, and some anxiety. Through #therapies, #supportive #parents, and just "growing", I have had many #successes and am living as a #productive, #happy #adult. I do not drive and still live with my parents, but I take some #classes at a #community#college and (through the vocational rehabilitation program) found a job working as usher and ticket taker at the movie theater.
One day I hope to move out on my own and have a job I enjoy and have relationships with friends who share common interests with me. These interests include: playing the drums (I've been taking rock drumming lessons for 3 years), listening to rock music, playing guitar hero, and looking at various videos on the computer.
I have chores at home which include: washing my clothes, cleaning my bathroom, taking out my trash, and vacuuming. I love Starbucks and cheeseburgers (especially at 5 Guys). And, I work out with a #trainer at a #gym a couple of days of week. So, really…I'm just like you! I continue to struggle, but have overcome so much. I am proud of this. And, I am happy. My final advice is: "Don't ever let Autism be an excuse for whatever you try to do or want to do!" Thank you!
Ryan, your inner determination and courage push you forward in each situation and season in your life. Your love and passion for music amaze us all as you can name any song and know everything there is to know about it. You have an inner strength and curiosity that propel you to keep going and keep trying!
Ryan is #JustLikeYou
Benjamin is 15 years old. He loves to play #soccer, #basketball, and #baseball. He also runs Special Olympic #track. He loves watching #sports games and can name players of his favorite teams. In fact he relates to most folks based on their sports teams and when he meets you he may ask you what teams you like. He loves school and being a part of his #church #youth group.
Benjamin is diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. People with Down Syndrome can do most anything that typical people can do. They many times just need a little longer to learn or more supports to accomplish tasks.
If his mom, Leigh Ann, could go back in time to the diagnosis, she wishes she knew then "...just how much Benjamin would accomplish and how much he is just like the rest of us. He adds so much to our family." "My child is awesome because he is incredibly easy going. His smile is contagious and I honestly I don't know anyone who doesn't like being around him. He is athletic and is good at most any sports he tries. When he decided he wanted to compete in the Special Olympics he signed up for the 400 meter. Not knowing how long a run that would be, he trained and got a time good enough to go to the State Olympic Competition." Leigh Ann continues, "He is incredibly #funny. Speech has always been a hurdle for him but he has tried so hard over the last few years and is now able to communicate if you are willing to listen." Benjamin, keep excelling in your passion with various sports! Keep running the extra mile in everything you do. Continue to smile, continue to laugh, and continue to give life your best everyday!
Benjamin is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to share Benjamin's story.
Today is Friendship Circle of Virginia Friday!
Elisabeth is 16 years old. She loves Anime, playing board games and Wii games, read Manga books and magazines like People Magazine, watching ID Channel, news, and movies (especially animation), going to amusement parks, Anime conventions, talking to friends, Digital Art, listening to all types of Music, likes watching videos on Utube.
Elisabeth was diagnosed with Autism.
In her case she wasn't able to communicate. She couldn't use words to make conversation or answer questions, yet she could talk and could name items. She also has Sensory Integration Disorder, meaning she doesn't always process sounds, tastes, sights, tactile normally. Physically, she has low muscle tone and some fine motor deficits. Additionally, she has Attention Deficit Disorder.
Her mom, Marcia, writes "If I had to tell other parents something, I would say do not place limits on your child because of a diagnosis. I see a lot of guilt, and a lot of trying to make the child's life easy because they are "disabled". Treat them as if they can so that they will try. Treat them as if they were typical as much as possible so that they know they're just as equal. Let them be unsuccessful or fall ---if it happens, teach them how to deal with this in a positive manner and maybe next time things will go better. Let there be "a next time"---one failure at one time does not mean it will stay that way. Do not take everything you read or hear as the gospel, you know in your gut what is right for your child." My child is awesome because I know every day is a struggle for her. She's old enough now to tell me how she feels, how things go in her day. I can see when I watch her how she interprets the world, and it is difficult. She has fears, anxiety, the need to be perfect, pressures she puts on herself. She is amazing because even after she comes home overstimulated by the school day, drained from trying to make sense of everything, trying to remember what she needs to do, she's just a great kid! I can hear her laughing with her internet friends she talks to, singing songs, trying to help others with their problems." Elisabeth is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to present GORDON ROCK (G Rock)! Gordon is 15 months old! Gordon loves #music, #playing with his big #brother Dante, and he loves to #eat! Gordon’s favorite TV shows are “Yo Gabba Gabba,” “Blues Clues,” and “Word Party!” Gordon has CHD (aortic stenosis), cystic fibrosis, microcolon, and pancreatic insufficiency. Gordon has already undergone several surgeries and procedures and will need Open Heart Surgery to replace his aortic valve.
Gordon is thriving and doing so well!
Gordon’s Super-Mom Tannia describes Gordon as a warrior! She says that sometimes the key to dealing with the hard times is asking for help. She says ”Never be scared or shy of asking [for help]; I have met and made some of the best people this way, even if it's just to offer you a hug or an ear to listen. It's always good to have people that will be there to pick you up.” Gordon, may you continue to thrive, share your heart-warming smile with everyone around you, and continue to be the warrior that you are!!!! Gordon is #JustLikeYou
Project: Just Like You is proud to share Gordon’s story!
Please follow his journey on his FB page: GORDON ROCK SMITH
(photo shared with permission)
Project: Just Like You is proud to present Sean Jaxson!
Sean Jaxson, nicknamed "The Purple Hulk", is 7 weeks old & was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome with Intact Atrial Septum & Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return. He also has Factor V Leiden mutation. He had his first of three open heart surgeries at 4 days old. He is still in the hospital. It took 3 attempts to finally close his chest & he was finally extubated 2 weeks ago!
He is the definition of a #fighter! He has a fiesty personality, and keeps every one on their toes at all times. He loves snuggling with #Mommy, listening to #Daddy & #GiGi talk, sitting in his #mamaroo, laying with his #Snugapuppy & watching his monkey mobile. He is not a fan of diaper changes, baths or being unswaddled.
He has had a rough start to life but he continues to fight with every heart beat. He only has half of a heart but twice the fight! Sean Jaxson is #justlikeyou!
Project: Just Like You is proud to share Sean Jaxson's (AKA The Purple Hulk's) story.
Please follow his journey on his FB page: www.Facebook.com/jaxsonsheart (photo shared with permission)