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

Thank You for the Kind Words, but I Am Not a Hero

I am raising a terminally ill child, my daughter, Abby. This has caused many to call me a hero, warrior, or fighter, among other things. While these are flattering terms and to be taken as compliments, I do not necessarily feel like they describe me. One reason people have used…

Grieving My Living Daughter

My daughter, Abby, is 24 and has Sanfilippo syndrome, which will one day claim her life. I already feel like she’s gone, though. I had never even thought of the idea of grieving the loss of someone who is still living until now. It is a sad reality, but I…

I’m Struggling with Bitterness This Holiday Season

Parenting a terminally ill child carries emotional baggage. It can be subtle or sudden and feel like an extra weight to carry around every day. The feeling of bitterness particularly resonates with me and has developed over time. I am normally an upbeat, positive person. I am generally happy…

Dealing with the Emotional Toll of Sanfilippo Syndrome

Parents of terminally ill and special-needs children experience a multitude of emotions. Our feelings lie across a wide spectrum, and sometimes we feel many emotions at once. Each person’s reaction is different, too — no two parents are exactly alike. However, I think that we all experience similar feelings at…

Feeling Isolated While Parenting a Sanfilippo Child

Raising a special-needs child can be isolating. You think no other child is like yours, and other parents won’t understand the daily challenges you face. When I thought my daughter Abby had autism, I didn’t join a support group or seek out other moms of children with autism. I felt…

Parenting Siblings with Different Needs

Children with Sanfilippo syndrome often have neurotypical siblings. These are rough waters for parents to navigate. You love them equally, but how do you adequately care for their differing needs? My oldest daughter, Abby, has Sanfilippo syndrome. Her sister, Emily, is unaffected. Emily is incredibly smart, beautiful, kind, and…

Please Ask Me About My Child

People often don’t like talking about sad topics. They probably feel they lack adequate words. Most want to offer advice, or say something to make another person’s life better. But if you have experienced a sad event, you can’t avoid it. You wake up thinking about it, and it is…