Our EPILEPSY WARRIOR
My name is Alexia. My husband, John, and I have three children. Two of whom have special needs.
Our youngest is Áine (pronounced On-Ya) Clare who just turned 14 is a feisty, squirrelly, clever, smart, social girl. She also carries the diagnoses of Intractable Epilepsy, Intra-uterine stroke, Left Hemiparesis, Neurological Visual Impairment which makes her legally blind, Dysarthria, Post Status Right Hemispherectomy, Growth Hormone Deficiency, Impulse Control Disorder, she is fed through a g-tube and doesn’t speak. Áine had attended a school in our district for several years, but then she aged out of the program and the district had nothing else to offer. Then we found HBIC’s Cleta Harder Development School, where she has been for 4 years. Although her list of needs and impairments are long, HBIC’s staff has embraced, loved and valued my daughter.
Our 22 year old son Brendan, already known to HBIC through his little sister, became an official member of the HBIC community in 2012 when he joined the Transition Program. Brendan is a gentle giant with a beautiful spirit of happiness and pride in himself and the desire to learn new things. Brendan carries the diagnoses of moderately severe classic autism, epilepsy, and bipolar disorder. Brendan’s experiences in school settings have not been good until recently to say the very least. In fact he was homeschooled for 5 years before his last school placement before switching to HBIC. Brendan started at HBIC’s Emily’s Place Adult Day Program in January 2015.
Like Áine, Brendan’s wonderfulness is embraced. Even his not so wonderfulness is seen as a challenge to be faced as opposed to a reason to stop teaching him.
The people at HBIC just get it. From the administration, to the teachers, to the support staff. Never had we experienced anything like this before. The knowledge of the staff at HBIC is impressive, but even more impressive is the genuine care and love the HBIC community has for each student and each student’s family. To see my children so loved primarily and then to see them learn new things and then to have my family as a whole embraced is a gift we do not take lightly. The care and concern the entire HBIC community has shown our entire family during times of happiness and times of challenge is clear and bold and ever-present.
Our middle child, Ciara, is a junior in high school and started volunteering at HBIC three years ago. She is an advocate for her brother and sister and for HBIC in general. During her freshman year, she professed so eloquently about HBIC’s mission that her class voted to donate over $500.00 to HBIC.
Our children are loved here at HBIC. This organization personifies what all special needs programs should aspire to be.