I’ll never forget the look on our son’s face.
Aengus desperately wanted to join the baseball team, like his older brother. Each time we headed to the field, he was so full of excitement and hope. He was in tears by the time we left practice.
I felt crushed and so sad for him. It must have been so difficult for Aengus. Not only did he lack the coordination that came so easily to other children his age, but he couldn’t even formulate the words to express his emotions.
Raising Aengus has been a bit tricky.
We first took notice of his speech delay when he was almost two years old. The specialists we consulted told us it was likely apraxia of speech, a condition in which the brain has difficulty coordinating the complex oral movements needed to create sound. We were so focused on speech therapy to help him catch up, that we honestly paid less attention to many of the other difficulties he was facing.
Though he eventually would learn to crawl, he didn’t really progress to walking like most children. Aengus walked and ran on his knees – he wouldn’t stop even when on cement, ripping his pants and scuffing the toes of his shoes. The doctors told us everything was okay with his hips and legs, and that this was just his special way to get around more quickly.
As he got a little older, we noticed other things. He wasn’t able to put on his clothes or his shoes by himself. He had a lot of difficulty with fine motor tasks, specifically cutting, holding pencils, and playing board games. He would usually refuse to do any of these tasks at home or at daycare.
Everything was just harder for Aengus. As parents, we often felt helpless.
The MAB-Mackay turned all of this around for us. It was one of those situations that I just know I’ll look back on and say “that was the moment our lives changed forever.”
Up until that moment, I had faced a lot of self-doubt and questioned myself as a mother. I remember our first session at the MAB-Mackay that December morning. For so long, I had questioned everything I was doing for Aengus. Was I the right person to be raising him? Why was I his mother? Was I completely off-base in thinking he needed any support at all?
In one short hour with our new occupational therapist and social worker from the MAB-Mackay, things started to come together. They had a plan to help Aengus, which promised to be life-changing for him, for me, and for our entire family.
We are so proud of Aengus, and the incredible progress he’s made. He’s learned strategies to break down the steps of many essential every-day activities. He’s able to get dressed by himself, to eat on his own, and to write, all of which are great for his independence. He’s able to join the whole family for bike rides, and has joined the neighborhood competitive swim team – where he even won a ribbon!
His biggest success has been coming to terms with his coordination challenges, understanding how it affects him and how it might make things harder for him than for his friends and other kids his age. This has really impacted his self-esteem in so many positive ways.
Aengus is now seven years old, and he has just started second grade. The MAB-Mackay is working with him on developing important skills such as getting dressed with proper sequencing, where to place his schoolwork when copying, and how to shoot a basketball. These tasks require a lot of planning and effort for Aengus – including the ability to recognize signs in his body and when to ask for help or for a break.
As a mom, the MAB-Mackay’s support has been truly priceless. It feels like nothing I can put into words, like someone is finally on our side, like I don’t have to face this alone. I now feel like Aengus will have a shot at a normal life because someone finally understands him, believes him, and wants to help him succeed at life.