Kelly Wallis,  —

Houston-based Kelly is a music therapist working with special needs children. She’s also the organist for her church. She thoroughly enjoys having music weave into every part of her daily life and work. She’s been married to her husband, Jeff, for 27 years, and they have two daughters, Abby and Emily. She writes about life as a caregiver for Abby, who has Sanfilippo Syndrome.

Articles by Kelly Wallis

Lessons Learned From Unanticipated Positive Outcomes

This is a follow-up to my previous column about my 26-year-old daughter, Abby, potentially being accepted into a clinical trial. To recap, my husband and I were recently notified that she might be accepted into a clinical trial for a drug called Kineret (anakinra). Researchers will study…

Sanfilippo Can Get in the Way of Celebrating

I recently received exciting news! My 26-year-old daughter, Abby, has been selected to potentially participate in a clinical trial for a drug to help manage or minimize symptoms of her disease, Sanfilippo syndrome. My husband inquired about the trial over a year ago, and they contacted us recently…

Helping Others During Times of Grief

Grief has been a prevalent part of my life for the past year or so. My mom unexpectedly passed away early last year, and because of the pandemic, her burial and memorial service were postponed to this summer. I have spent a lot of time planning her service. This…

How Do You Respond to Grief?

I often think about grief, a feeling that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. Whether it involves the loss of a pet, parent, spouse, sibling, child, friend, or marriage, grief is unavoidable. Because it is such a common emotion, one would think that most people could easily discuss…

I Wish I Could Read My Daughter’s Mind

Most parents experience a time when they wish they could read their child’s mind. For example, when children are infants and can’t speak yet, wouldn’t it be great to know what they are thinking? Parents of special needs children may experience this feeling, either sometimes or most of the time,…

A Thank-you Note to My Biggest Supporter

Living with an adult child who has a terminal disease is challenging. It demands patience, flexibility, kindness, perseverance, and advocacy. I don’t claim to always possess all of these attributes, but I try my best. Life gets in the way, though. I work outside the home and try to live…

What If My Child Did Not Have Sanfilippo Syndrome?

My daughter Abby, 25, has Sanfilippo syndrome. It is a genetic, terminal disorder likened to Alzheimer’s disease. She was not diagnosed until 2017, at the age of 22. However, she was diagnosed with autism at 4, so for many years, I attributed her behaviors and delays to…

Let’s Raise Awareness of Sanfilippo Syndrome for Rare Disease Day

My 25-year-old daughter Abby has a rare, terminal disease called Sanfilippo syndrome. The best way to describe the disease is to compare it to Alzheimer’s, but in children. It robs her of cognitive abilities, including speech, attention, and memory, and motor abilities, including walking, mobility, and motor planning. Sanfilippo syndrome…