2018-04-08 / Insight

‘I don’t understand, I just accept’

Sandi Ryan Lapeer Township Sandi Ryan Lapeer Township I’ve raised my grandson since birth. He was a sickly infant. I took 12 weeks of Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (which is without pay).

His first of five sets of ear tubes was at 11 months old. He didn’t keep food and milk down resulting in stomach reflux, meds and doctor trips for three years. They watched him for hydrocephalus, checked for seizures and his heart. He would cry so hard, he would faint.

His first tooth came in at 13 months old. He didn’t walk until he was 3 1/2 years old.

His speech was very limited, he mostly stared back at us. He was diagnosed about the same timeframe with Aspergers and devel- opmentally disabled. As I later found out the latter, that meant he couldn’t button, zip, or tie things. His hands often shake and to date is still not 100-percent potty trained.

He went to Head Start program, had in-house sessions with speech and hand coordination teachers. Because of the stomach reflux, he would be leery of putting anything in his mouth. Twice he was dehydrated and needed hospitalization.

Through all this, I missed many, many more days from work without pay. I thank God for the FMLA, otherwise I would have lost my job at Chrysler. My world was daycare dropoff, work, daycare pick up, dinner, wash, take care of him, up nights late, and back up for a repeat day. I got a little help from family but never a day off to myself.

My kids are grown. Never in my life did I expect to raise more.

I don’t understand, I just accept. He’s most known for his smile. He even flirted with cashiers in stores as an infant and it’s the first thing people tell me about him. He didn’t have much trouble in school with playmates. All through his years, everyone treated him like there was nothing different about him. The LINKS Program (at Lapeer Community Schools) had a lot to do with that, kudos to them! He had many friends outside the classroom.

He just turned 20, but has the mentality of a three-toseven year old. He’s been pure joy in my life, but not without much work.

People have no idea what we go through on a daily basis, some things I can’t mention here. I wash sheets, blankets and clothes almost daily and sometimes the comforter. I need extra clothes packed when we go anywhere.

I stay busy with activities for him, bowling, Special Olympics, transportation to ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis). Rewards have to be earned for a trip to McDonald’s, Chuck E Cheese, or for a toy. He needs a lot of care and it keeps me busy at age 63. I’m slowing down. We still camp, go on adventures, parks, beaches, up north and more. All in all, he is my world.

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