Meet Liam » 2015-Nov-17

My husband and I met when we were very young; we both knew that we would not consider having any children until we had a good foundation built for ourselves. After being together for 10 years, getting married, buying a house, having decent employment we knew we were ready.  Sometimes though, life doesn't follow your ideal path. It took us nine years to get pregnant. We were over the moon, oh the things we can to pass down to this little person! 

Once our son, Liam, was born we had that perfect little honeymoon, new parent phase. We took probably 25 or more photos of him every day.  Liam, so perfect, slept like a dream, never complained about anything.  We attributed this to being stellar parents, having waited for him for so long, we definitely doted on him. His every need we were there!  It couldn't get better.

On February 3, 2011, at just 4 months old, things changed. Our happy go lucky little guy was showing signs of discomfort, making unusual sounds and pulling his arms in like when one goes into the fetal position. Given this was not typical for him we decided to bring him in to TBRHSC to be safe. After a week of testing and the introduction of anti-epileptic medicines we were given the news that our baby was born with a condition called Pachygyria, essentially a malformed brain. Going forward we could expect, severe developmental delays, which would require a lot of therapy and seizures which would be difficult to control.

This was a definite game changer; we were now entering a world full of unknowns. This is something that we had not "gotten ready" for.

Before leaving the hospital a referral was sent to the George Jeffrey Children's Centre. In under a month from the time Liam was referred by the TBRHSC Liam had his initial assessment done and we met his Therapy team; Physio Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Language Pathologist and Social Worker. In the beginning Liam attended the centre twice a week and they taught us many techniques to encourage safe development, handling and play. I would compare the impact of their involvement to moving to a foreign country where you don't know the language and making a friend who is bilingual and extremely familiar with the area. Having the George Jeffrey Children's Centre on our side has been such a vital part of our journey with Liam.

We definitely appreciate the high level of service the George Jeffrey Children's Centre provides, whether helping to modify a bike trailer to help us continue some regular type activities, or knowing that they are there for us whenever needed, like a hospital, out of town, outside of typical working hours, to coming up with out of the box ideas, or inviting us to participate in specialized training. I can with certainty say their involvement has helped steer us in the right direction on this new life path we have been given.

If you were to ask us what our ideal scenario would be, we would love to see Liam receive weekly Occupational, Physio and Speech Therapy and would be ecstatic if the Centre was in a position to hire a therapist who specializes in Neurological disorders.  The reality however is that the specialized services at George Jeffrey Children's Centre are growing faster than funding can support. The number of children with disabilities has risen and families are not able to be seen in as timely a manner as needed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has ever supported the George Jeffrey Children's Centre and ask that you please consider them and the great work they do when you are deciding where your generosity should be directed. Our family is extremely grateful that we are able to have such a resource, staffed with caring individual’s right here in Thunder Bay. Thank you!

~Submitted by Arlene Dennhardt


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