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A Dedicated Mom Shares The Daily Rewards Caring For Her Son With Autism

Gina Flores
Caregiver Advocate | Shield HealthCare
08/07/12  6:33 PM PST

Caregiver Story Spotlight | Shield HealthCare “What Makes Caregiving Rewarding?” Story Contest

Story by Tracey P., 2006 Caregiver Story Contest Runner-up

“When Frank was born, I had two young children. A handful in itself, and I was totally unprepared for what was to come. Frank was diagnosed with hydrocephalus and underwent several operations soon after birth. Later he began to have seizures and at about age seven he developed an aneurysm in his spine leaving him partially paralyzed. The biggest challenge, however, has been his autism and his inability to connect socially with people.

Frank is 22 now, and I can truly say that he is my life’s work. Frank likes people and attempts to greet everyone he meets. He has a big imagination and has picked up some reading skills along the way. He has an amazing memory; he never forgets a name, even after years! He plays Nintendo and seems to have an acclamation toward electronic devices such as the VCR, remotes devices and so on. We try to make everything into a game for him, which he really loves. Such as, when we bring his dinner in we always knock on the door and claim to be room service and call him Sir; if Frank has nothing else, he has immense self-esteem!

For me, Frank has been a journey; I have learned things I would have never learned, I have met people I would have never met and I have done things I would have never done, if it were not for Frank being part of our lives. I’ve seen Frank bring out the caring and good in people; many of his peers in school would go out of their way to help and to this day stop us on the street to say hello. I have also seen the opposite in people, unfortunately, which makes me worry about what would happen if I couldn’t be there for him!

I owe Frank so much, he has given me direction and purpose and has made me a better person. I couldn’t imagine my life without Frank. Frank is such a happy child, even with all he’s been through. Once in a while, out of the blue he says, “I love you, Mom” which makes every second worth it!”

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