Emmanuel is fun-loving kid with a curiosity for the world that seems endless. This same curiosity can lead him into some challenging situations when his mom, Dora, has her eyes on one of her other three children. Emmanuel was diagnosed with Down syndrome five months into Dora’s pregnancy.
"Lifespan takes care of everything. Anything I need, I can just call and they will help."
Since his birth, Dora and Emmanuel’s doctors have been diligently treating him with physical, speech and occupational therapies. His mom brings him to occupational therapy swimming classes to strengthen his body and to a specialized play area to teach him how to follow rules and focus.
Emmanuel’s thirst for knowledge is not slowed down by his condition. In fact, he often gets himself into trouble when exploring his surroundings by unlocking doors and running away to explore the outdoors. His behavioral issues are addressed by a psychologist that comes to the house and works with Emmanuel.
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Dora knows he is fascinated by sensory details, so on nice days the two walk to school together; Dora tries to take him on walks as much as possible so he can learn about his environment. While this method is good for Emmanuel’s brain, Dora still has a bit of trouble containing him when he sees something he wants to investigate. Emmanuel will run into the street to discover something new, so Dora teaches him about safety and helps him understand what danger is.
Emmanuel is a very active child, and his constant need to move around makes sitting still in a car seat difficult. He enjoys going grocery shopping with his mom, though, and wants to help pay with the money in his little wallet. He’s a very affectionate child, and while his Down syndrome presents some challenges for Dora, she is grateful that his case is mild.
Dora is also very thankful to the teams of clinicians that help make Emmanuel’s life easier. Some health problems have plagued him, such as a flat foot that required attention from podiatrist Louis R. Simeone, DPM, and a dark spot on his heart that was treated at the Pediatric Heart Center by cardiologist Sara R. Ford, MD.
Emmanuel also sees ophthalmologist D. Robbins Tien, MD, dentist Eileen M. Danaher, DMD at the Samuels Sinclair Dental Center, which specializes in providing dental services to children and intellectually or developmentally challenged patients of all ages, otolaryngologist (ear, nose, and throat specialist) Jan C. Groblewski, MD, and pediatric developmental behavioral specialist Pamela High, MD, at the Children’s Neurodevelopment Center.
“Lifespan takes care of everything. Anything I need, I can just call and they will help,” Dora says of her son’s care teams. She is glad to have help from people who know about the intricacies of Down syndrome.
Dora is learning along with her son every day; she takes advantage of all of the different workshops that Lifespan has to offer, such as Parenting Matters workshops at Bradley Hospital that happen a few times a year. Dora realizes that it’s up to parents to be prepared and educated on their children’s health. Dora is Emmanuel's advocate when it comes to his education and healthcare, keeping herself and those around her well-informed on his changing needs. Dr. High noted Dora’s dedication to her son’s health needs: “Dora has worked diligently to understand [Emmanuel’s] medical and educational needs and to see that they are thoroughly addressed.” Dora advises other parents in her position to seek help from professionals and to take advantage of the resources around them.
The support she has received from these workshops has helped her immensely in understanding her child’s needs. “Going to doctors’ appointments and therapies can be a lot, but it’s all worth it. At the end of the day you’re happy you are able to learn for your child from all of Lifespan’s available services,” says Dora.