Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Flashback Beckett's Story

I know many special needs parents and caregivers can relate to this story.  It's been 4 years since I really sat down and thought about our journey; where we were and where we are now.  I just want to recap the beginning again for those who came in after the movie started ;)

Beckett's Story:

In November of 2012 we found out that my son Beckett has been diagnosed with a very rare autosomal dominant disorder called SYNGAP-1 gene (6p21.3). I didn’t know whether to cry or breathe a sigh of relief. He was the first to be diagnosed at Texas Children’s Hospital Genetics Clinic. Symptoms of this disorder vary in severity and include mild to severe intellectual disability, speech delay, a spectrum of epilepsies and has been linked to autism. Our son Beckett has been in multiple therapies that include OT, PT, speech therapy, play therapy and music therapy.
I knew that something was not right when Beckett was 4 months old. He was not sitting up or meeting the same milestones as his twin sister. I began my search for an answer beginning with my general practitioner, then adding 19 more specialists to the list since his birth. After many tests such as an MRI, EEG, Cat-scan, Microarray and metabolic tests at 2 years old we found out everything was “normal.” But we knew that it was everything but “normal.”
He was unable to walk, feed himself, babble or talk. We waited 14 months to get an appointment to have an evaluation at Texas Children’s Meyer Center for Autism. They concluded that our son was going to have intellectual disability and a severe speech delay, but still no real answers. The Meyer Center then referred us to Texas Children’s Genetics Clinic for Whole Exome DNA testing.  After a grueling thirteen week wait for the results, we finally got the answer to his problems. It took almost 4 years to get a diagnosis for our son.
I was in shock and knew that it would be an uphill battle.  Our genetics doctor only found one published paper on SYNGAP1.  I knew that there had to be more, but sadly there wasn't.  On the drive home from the clinic I cried and prayed for answers to why.  Thoughts of despair and helplessness overcame me.  It took me about 2 days to process the news, but I was determined this was not going to break me. I had no idea the challenges I would be facing taking care of a special needs child while raising four other typical children who needed my attention and a marriage that I was unsure would survive and that is an ongoing struggle to keep a balance.
After a past of abuse in my own personal life before I was married the second time, I was not going to allow myself to be a victim any longer to anything.  I gathered my thoughts and decided then that I would do everything in my power to help him. Finding answers for him and others was my purpose. I began to blog about his progress and wanted to try and raise awareness of SYNGAP1 and find others like him. 
When I posted our diagnosis on my son’s blog I began to reach people from all over the world who were like me.  I created an information page through Facebook that is strictly for research on SYNGAP1 and brain based research that is related to SYNGAP1. The first parent who found me helped me set up a closed Facebook group for parents looking for support and a place to talk about our children’s medical progress and challenges.
As the Whole Exome DNA test becomes more common we see our group growing worldwide. The network we have created in this group has brought several international doctors together to work on research to define our rare disease. We continue to drive research to help find a treatment that will help our children. We have since created a nonprofit for education and research for SYNGAP1. Our group has doubled in the last year.  We currently add newly identified patients worldwide on an average of one per week.  Though this journey over the last four years has been difficult, we have had triumphs and trials. I wouldn’t change for the world. I have learned more about myself and the love I have for people than I ever thought I would if I had not been placed in this situation. I am very grateful and appreciate life more than I ever have and am truely happy doing a job I love.  I will not stop, I will not give up.  #NEVERSTOPPING