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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…

Sanfilippo Families Are in This Fight Together

It’s important in all aspects of life to find your people. For example, I have my teacher friends, my college friends, and now, we have our Sanfilippo warriors. When someone you love is living with a rare, terminal disease, it’s an indescribable feeling to find people who are walking a…

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,…

The Things We Carry: Welcome to ‘Plot Twist’

Oh, the things my arms have held. I’ve carried my beloved stuffed animals and blankies, my school books and book bags, my moving boxes and furniture, and my babies. Emotionally, I’ve carried a sense of purpose, a sense of pride, a sense of responsibility. But the most significant thing I’ve…

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…

Grief Is an Unwelcome Visitor During the Holidays

This year’s Thanksgiving was difficult. I lost my grandmother in March, so grief overshadowed a lot of the gratitude that should be at the forefront of this holiday for me. However, having grief at the center of Thanksgiving, among other holidays, is common for those affected by terminal…

The Roller Coaster of Parenting a Special Needs Child

Raising a special needs child is challenging. It is physically tiring and emotionally draining. But it is incredibly rewarding, too. Some days leave me feeling like I know nothing and can’t do anything right, while others are positive and uplifting. This is the roller coaster that parents of special needs…

Living My Own Life as a Sanfilippo Sibling

You live with many fears when a family member is diagnosed with a terminal disease. However, there is a specific fear that comes with being the sibling: What if I move away from home and something happens to my sister? Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare, terminal disease known as…

My Project to Remember and Honor Sanfilippo Angels

For a parent, the worst thought in the world is losing a child. The love a parent has for his or her child is unceasing. Bringing a human being into the world, then raising and loving them only to lose them is unfathomable. Yet, parents of children with terminal illnesses…

Sanfilippo Syndrome Robs Me of Closure

I have an interesting relationship with my sister, Abby. Because she has special needs, our relationship has always been rocky. I often would become jealous of the extra attention she received, and it weighed on me for many years. When Abby was diagnosed with Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare…