I am a mother of four amazing children. I am also a Special Education Teacher Consultant who works with students with Disabilities in Monroe County. My husband and I were married nearly 15 years ago and after a very devastating miscarriage, our first child was born. Abigail, our rainbow baby, was born at 41 weeks, two days after a very traumatic induction that caused a head injury. Abigail was in the NICU for three days. This was just the beginning of Abigail’s medical journey as she was hospitalized again at 1 month old for feeding trouble and aspiration pneumonia. Abigail is considered medically fragile and has a host of health conditions including asthma, diabetes, PCOS, IBS, Chronic ear infections with hearing loss (tubes 6x), muscle condition in eyes (operated on at age 3- glasses and vision therapy), Specific Antibody Deficiency, sleep apnea, and tonsils/adenoids removed 2x (have regrown again). In addition to the health concerns, Abigail also has several mental health diagnoses including ASD, ADHD, Binge Eating Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Demotillmania. Developmentally, Abigail was nonverbal until age 2 and did not speak full sentences until age 4. She has received early intervention services, school-aged services (IEP), and therapy since age 3. She is under the care of many doctors and mental health professionals. Two of our other children are Neurodiverse with ADHD and GAD diagnosis and our youngest child has a speech delay and hypermobility that causes pain and requires PT. Our family is very blessed that my husband and I have been able to maintain work through the pandemic, but our medical bills are crushing us.
Abigail truly has had a very traumatic medical journey and struggles with social interactions with peers. This has led her to have a strong love for animals, in particular horses and dogs. They are her non-judgmental, comfort. Abigail is a sweet and loving child who sees the world differently. My husband and I have worked incredibly hard to give her every possible advantage so that she may have a successful life. She is currently enrolled in the Toledo Zoo AdApt Teen Program to help foster independence and work skills through working with her love, animals. She is also attending the Golf Program through Boys and Girls Club of Toledo and has a Big Sister through BBBS of Toledo. We are attempting to give her as much life experience and therapy so that she can, one day, be independent. All we want is for her to have a full and happy life. Abigail attended the Bay Creek Farm Animal Assisted Therapy last year and she absolutely loved it. Jessica, the therapist, truly understands Abigail and has been an assistant to us in finding the best care for her.
Avenues for Autism has helped our family to continue providing Abi with animal assisted therapy at Bay Creek Farm, without having to take away from another activity for our three other children. This therapy is not only important for Abi’s social skills and language development but also for her anxiety as animals, particularly horses, are her comfort. Working with animals is the only time she truly feels confident and calm. We are so thankful that the Suzanne Tyner Autism Assistance Fund has allowed her to continue her therapy.
Story by Rayann (Abigail’s mom)