Parents of disabled children find supportPublished 11:44am Friday, March 8, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
FRANKLIN—With three children who are disabled, Stacey Brown recognized the need for guidance in rearing them. That’s why the Franklin resident was one of several people who recently attended a workshop to find support.
Last Friday, Regina Myrick of Franklin, president of the Ra’Gene B. Myrick Foundation, hosted “Parents Reaching Out – A Networking Opportunity for People Caring for Children with Disabilities.” The event was sponsored by Franklin-Southampton Area United Way.
Myrick, who works with special education children at S.P. Morton Elementary School in Franklin, founded the organization. Her daughter, Ra’Gene, had severe disabilities, such as a seizure disorder. The child died at age 5 in 2000. Networking with other parents of disabled children proved to be helpful in getting resources for rearing Ra’Gene in the time she was alive.
“They weren’t meeting milestones,” said Brown about her three sons. “They were late walking and talking.”
Her oldest, 7, has Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder. The middle one, 4, has autism. At age 2, her youngest has both conditions and is just now starting to form words, she said.
“The oldest is on a medication, which helps him to focus. That’s working pretty well so far,” Brown added.
A therapist who told her about the meeting works with the youngest child by reading to him and getting the boy to imitate her in little tasks such as stacking blocks.
Brown said the workshop proved helpful. She learned of different programs for which she could be eligible, such as getting respite care while running errands. Myrick also told Brown to call on her for support.
“This is all I know. I just go with it,” said Brown. “I don’t go out, but that’s OK because the children come first.”
Sonya and Harron Huie came from Suffolk for the meeting.
“We have a beautiful 9-year-old daughter, Skye, who is autistic,” said Sonya Huie. “She keeps my husband and I really busy. She’s super-energetic.”
The child was about 18 months old when the couple noticed some changes.
“Skills she learned, such as her ability to talk, went away. Other things included clapping her hands when really excited. When we would go places to look at art exhibits or animals at the zoo, her gaze wouldn’t follow where we pointed,” Sonya Huie said.
The couple voiced concerns to their pediatrician, but a formal diagnosis wasn’t made until the girl was 3 years old.
Skye receives speech and occupational therapy and applied behavior analysis therapy. These come through the Suffolk Public Schools, the Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters, Assistive Technology Services and the Mea’Alofa Support Center in Chesapeake. They’ve helped in numerous ways such as toilet training and daily living skills, said Sonya Huie.
Myrick and she met at a workshop last year in Virginia Beach. Through an e-mail, the Huies decided to attend the recent event.
“We got a number of things out of it. We met other great families, and learned of new organizations in the region that offer services for families of children with disabilities,” said Sonya Huie.
If parents suspect their child might have a disability, they should contact their pediatrician or a neuro-developmental specialist as soon as possible.
“Early intervention is key,” she continued.
Myrick has a directory of over 800 resources. For details, contact her at 757-544-0213 or visit www.ragenebmyrick.com