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Our journey began on October 3rd 2005. You have all heard this story before. The due date has come and gone and you are anxiously waiting for the labor pains to come. My husband Gabe left because I said “no honey, not today, there is just nothing going on. Go to work so you can save time for when the baby comes.” Well, guess what? Six hours later Devin was here and, yes, my husband and I think my entire family from the tri state area was in the waiting room. Big brother Nicholas went out and announced proudly,” I have a baby brother”. We were all thrilled and overjoyed. We had no idea of the conversations that were going on between doctors and nurses in the hallway. As far as we could see we had a beautiful, healthy little boy with ten fingers and toes.

The next morning I found out what the conversation in the hallway was all about. It started with the pediatrician trying to break it to me gently that Devin had Down syndrome. He was followed by a cardiologist who informed me that Devin had a hole in his heart that may require surgery and then came the geneticist to explain Devin’s translocation (a form of Down syndrome that could be passed down from a parent gene) and that my husband and I would need to have extensive testing done to see if either of us carried the gene. I would like to say it was a whirlwind 24 hours and then we went home, but we didn’t. On the day we were to be released we were sent to the NICU. Devin needed an operation on his third day of life. Shock and inner strength are an amazing combination. I am convinced it can get you through anything. Anyone who knows me knows that I laugh and try to find humor in everything. I had nothing in this situation except fear, emptiness and SHOCK. I knew, however, that if I was okay then everyone around me would be okay. I remember the social worker coming to me in the NICU and asking me if I wanted her to contact ACDS. I said yes. I figured what is another specialist at this point. I did not know what ACDS stood for and I had no idea the window that was opened up for me.

ACDS Personal Stories

That one phone call has forever changed my life. We came home from the hospital a month later and had our appointment for the ACDS team to come in. I met a very special lady that day, Jane Shimkin, who has changed my life in more ways than she will ever realize. Her smile and empathetic (not sympathetic) way assured me that everything was going to be okay. And from that day forward it has been. There were tears of joy and fears of the unknown during Devin’s first year of life but ACDS was with us all the way. There were cards sent, phone calls made and shoulders to cry on provided to us.

Home base services started as soon as we came home. The therapists lived every moment with us. The first roll over from belly to back, the first spoken word and the first step. They guided us and supported us through our transition into school.

Devin soared through EI and the pre-school program. I was given many opportunities to come in and do parent participation. The more I was in the school, the more I realized I needed to be more a part of this agency. I decided to apply for a position as Director of Day Care. Three years later here I am.

I always knew they had the expertise at ACDS to help our children develop and grow and I always said what an amazing place it was, but once I got inside I realized it really is a” little piece of heaven.” You see ACDS is not just about our children. It is about our children, our spouses, and everyone else that is involved in our child’s life. It is about our children’s delicate beginnings, their middle years and their adult years. They start with us as infants, they guide us through EI, They support us through the scary transition into kindergarten and they provide amazing programs for the Five plus families and for adults.

Without the amazing teachers, aides, therapists, administrators, maintenance crew, support staff, principal, executive director and PTO, ACDS would not be the outstanding place that it is. We are always striving to be cutting edge and offer the best possibilities to the children.

When I give tours to my prospective parents I am honored to tell them they have found a ‘little piece of heaven” in ACDS. I can say that as a parent and as an employee. Our children are given every opportunity to soar. Our typically developing children get the joy of understanding diversity and our special needs children are looked upon as equals. If we could translate what we do here to the entire “outside” world it truly would be heaven on earth. I will be forever grateful to ACDS for providing the warmth and encouragement I so desperately needed when I first walked through those doors. I am so happy to know that Devin will have this “family” with him for a lifetime.

Mary Lynn Dinu


If you have a personal story about ACDS that you would like to share, please contact

Laurie Schaefer
lschaefer@acds.org

With your support, we can continue to assist children and adults with Down syndrome, Autism and other developmental disabilities and their families.
Your contribution can make a difference to a child and family, just like those families in the stories above.

Donate to ACDS Today!

 

 

 
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