Caring for Two Special Needs Children in Family

Like so many young women, Angie thought she would marry and have a beautiful, perfect family. But life has a way of putting some speed bumps on our road in life.  When she and her wonderful husband, Brett, had their first child, it looked like her wish had come true. Their oldest daughter, Anais, was bright, precocious, and very active. So when they had her second child, Angelle, she and Brett realized early on that things were different. At three months of age, she wasn’t acting like a normal three-month-old. As time went on, she wasn’t sitting up or crawling and was nonverbal, but she had a very lovable nature.  So Angie turned to her Mom, who recommended taking her to the pediatrician. Unfortunately, the doctors couldn’t do a full assessment until later. Finally, at age one, she received the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, which is a kind of umbrella for many different symptoms. One of the things they were able to correct quickly was her eyesight, and glasses helped tremendously.

Brett and Angie found a physical therapist, whom they considered an angel, to do intense therapy for six hours a day, and Angelle did begin to walk. However, since she also has scoliosis, she can’t walk normally.  She is still nonverbal. Despite all of hurdles, Angie says, “I believe God chose us, and Angelle chose us.”

Their third child, Grant, was a surprise. He was their third child in five years. It became clear early on that he manifested behaviors that matched autistic children. He was diagnosed with mild to moderate autism. Angie says that Grant “lives in his head.” He talks all the time, but he mostly repeats movie lines. He doesn’t have physical issues, so he doesn’t look different. Angie feels that autism is such a baffling disorder. For example, initially he would only eat five types of food since he has food texture issues. However, he has come a long way with help and love.

At first, Angie wondered why she was given another special needs child, and Anais struggled with having two special needs siblings. However, both Brett and Angie’s mom were a huge help. As they were growing up, it truly took three adults for three children. Also, Angie has nothing but good things to say about the Plano Independent School District for her children.

Angie says, “I can’t look too far ahead as it becomes too overwhelming, I have to simply trust in God.” Brett is a personal trainer and rises early so that he can be home in the afternoon to help. Angie works part-time out of her home. Together they are in the trenches 24/7. She says Brett’s strong faith has been a huge help, and they are celebrating their 30th anniversary soon. They manage to have “daytime dates” every Friday as they are just too tired in the evening.

Their oldest daughter lives in Montana and, as much as they want to visit her, it is very difficult to take a family vacation. Just going out for dinner causes problems as Angelle has verbal outbursts which frighten people. Although Angie explains the situation to people, it is frustrating. She says that people say, “I don’t know how you all do it.” Angie and Brett do not feel special – rather they are like any other couple who would do anything for their children.  “It is what it is. You have to make the best of it,” says Angie.

Grant is now 16, Angelle is 18, and Anais is 20. Throughout the years, Angie says her greatest lesson learned through caregiving was humility. She didn’t get her perfect family, but she wouldn’t choose differently. “God has given us our children for a reason,” concludes Angie.  

What has Helped:

  • Prayer is at the top of the list.
  • Trust in God.
  • A very supportive husband.
  • A mother who is always there to help.

Scripture Verse:

Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Prayer

Dear Father, there is a purpose for the difficulties in our lives. You always have a plan for us. We can count on You to give us the strength and the acceptance we need to see us through all of our trials. Help us to come to You with a grateful and trusting heart as Angie and Brett do each day.

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