Why 300 People Had a Water Balloon Fight With This Boy With Apraxia

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Camden Eubank was excited to celebrate his 10th birthday on July 6, but his mom, Traci Eubank, was worried about throwing a party and having only a few people show up, according to her Facebook post.

Camden has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS), a motor speech disorder, and it’s difficult for him to make friends, his dad, Wayne Eubank told WDBJ.

But when his parents made a Facebook page announcing Camden’s water-balloon-fight party, just a week before his birthday, more than 5000 quickly liked it.

I know all kids should learn disappointment in life- but sometimes other kids are so cruel. Camden is turning 10 on...

Posted by Camden's 10th Birthday Party- An Open Invitation on Sunday, June 28, 2015

Even more buzz came from Reddit.com, a the site nicknamed the “front page of the Internet.” The Eubanks don’t know who initially posted the party announcement to Reddit, but they were excited to see it get more than 4,000 upvotes. Reddit users from as near as Camden’s hometown in Roanoke, Virginia to as far as Singapore and Canada commented, hoping to make Camden’s birthday extra special. Cards and packages started arriving at the Eubank’s home soon after the post went up.

And somehow, the story got even better.

 

Two people sent Camden Blake Shelton concert tickets and included some money for Camden to buy a Blake Shelton T-Shirt. Camden dreams of becoming a country music singer, his mom wrote on her Facebook post.

Cam is walking on air- he just got his Blake Shelton tickets and they also gave him an envelope full of money that he's...

Posted by Camden's 10th Birthday Party- An Open Invitation on Friday, July 3, 2015

The water balloon fight party attracted 300 guests, from family and friends to complete strangers who’d heard Camden’s story. The 10-year-old even got a special birthday wish from Senator Mark Warner:

Hi Camden, wanted to wish you a happy 10th birthday! I wish I could be there for the “ultimate water balloon fight” – sounds like a blast!

Posted by Senator Mark Warner on Thursday, July 2, 2015

“With all the stuff that goes on in the world … you just can’t believe when something this good comes along,” Wayne Eubank told The Roanoke Times. “We just asked for a simple water battle and for some people to come to it. We got more than that.”

See more photos from Camden’s birthday festivities below:

A Special thank you to Aarika @ https://www.facebook.com/technicolorcakes?fref=nf&pnref=story

Posted by Camden's 10th Birthday Party- An Open Invitation on Tuesday, July 7, 2015
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How My Son's Speech Therapy Ended Up Helping Me

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It was an agonizing, gnawing fear.

What if my son didn’t get the help he needed? 

For months my husband and I had been concerned about our toddler’s lack of speech. People kept telling us to give him time and he would magically start speaking one day. Everyone had a story to this effect about someone they knew who was once speech delayed, but suddenly, abruptly caught up. Other people told us we simply needed to read him more books or talk to him more often. This advice was a painful insult to our parenting. Of course we spoke to our son and read him books! More than that, it simply wasn’t true. We could tell our son needed intervention that we weren’t trained to give.

I was desperate. I was afraid my son would continue to fall behind unless we started speech therapy soon. My fear was that he would struggle for years if I didn’t put up a proper fight for him now. 

I cried the day we found out our insurance had approved him for speech therapy. Finally he would get the help he needed. The pit growing in my stomach was beginning to recede.

Still, I was a bit nervous. Having no experience with speech therapy, I pictured my spirited, enthusiastic toddler sitting in a sterile doctor’s office and being drilled on rote speech patterns. Yikes.  

Six months later, I now realize I couldn’t have been more wrong.

My son literally cheers every time we pull into the parking lot. He races inside, eager to meet up with his therapist and then prances across the gym to the toy closet.  I sit on the floor and watch, amazed as his therapists turn every learning activity into a game. Or perhaps they’re turning every game into a learning activity. Either way he adores it.

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During these sessions I’ve learned too. I’ve caught onto the hand signals used to cue certain sounds. I’ve studied the basic signs he’s been taught so I can use them at home.  

But I’ve learned deeper things as well. I now know my son is an enthusiastic and tenacious student. He works diligently at every session.        

I’ve learned I’m not in this alone. When my husband deployed a few months ago, it meant I (temporarily) lost my partner in parenting. While friends and family are supportive, they don’t feel the struggle to hear our son speak as keenly as we do. They can’t appreciate how hard he works or how much time we spend practicing at home. With my husband gone, I thought I would be shouldering this responsibility alone.

But I’ve learned I’m not the only one fighting for my son. Our amazing, patient, encouraging speech therapists have joined our team. They’ve been there when I needed advice. They’ve celebrated his accomplishments with me. I know they want my son to succeed just as much as I do.

As I put my son to bed last night, I gave him a rundown on the next day’s events. “And then we’ll go to speech and see Ms. Britt!”

“Woo-hoo!”

Woo-hoo, indeed, I thought. Speech therapy might be for my son. But it’s been helping me too.  

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10 Things Parents of Kids With Apraxia of Speech Wish You Wouldn't Say to Us

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My son has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).  These are the top 10 things, from my experience, I wish others wouldn’t say upon meeting children like mine.

1. He will grow out of it. 

Really? Are you sure? Google “CAS,” and get back to me on that.

2. Oh, you know Einstein didn’t talk until age 3! He’ll talk when he’s ready…

Refer to answer #1.

3. He’s shy and/or rude.

No, actually, he can’t talk.

4. He just needs a little spank. [During a major meltdown]

No, you need a little spank! He needs some words and a hug — and someone who read #1 again!

5. He’s a what? Apraxic? Don’t you mean autistic?

No, I don’t.

apraxia
Photo credit: Gina Larum

6. Yeah, I’ve heard of it… my brother’s aunt’s cousin’s uncle had it. He’s fine now though…

Great, that’s a relief…

7. But I heard him say, “Mom.”

Yes, he’s capable of saying a lot of things and sounds. He simply can’t talk.

8. I heard *insert odd idea* works.

Thanks for the thought, but I’ll stick with the countless doctors and professionals currently treating my child.

9. When will he be able to talk?

My Magic 8 Ball isn’t working today, so let me get back to you on this.

10. He’s still not talking?! 

Trust me, we’ve got this under control. Just read #1, please. Thanks!

If you would like to learn more about CAS, here are two great resources:

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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40 Boys Put on Suits to Stand Up for Their Friend. It Worked.

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Jennifer Keefe’s 10-year-old son, Timothy, came home from school last November and asked his mom to take him out to buy a suit.

Keefe was taken aback. She was used to her 6-year-old son, Danny, wearing suits — he’d been attached to them since the Christmas before, when his mom bought him a red shirt and black jacket. But Timothy never showed any interest in dressing up.

“Ten-year-old boys like to wear Under Armor and sweatshirts,” Keefe recalls. “I asked him why he needed a suit.”

“We’re all wearing them,” he said, “to show Danny we support him.”

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Kids at school often bullied Danny — they didn’t understand why he wore a dress shirt or fedora each day, and they didn’t understand why he couldn’t talk. Danny has apraxia of speech, a motor disorder that makes it difficult for him to communicate. Kids would go up to him and ask, “Why can’t you talk? Just talk.” He’d come home from school distraught.

But a group of the boys on the Bridgewater Badgers’ football team, where Danny is the official water manager, wouldn’t stand for this. Their solution? A “Danny Appreciation Day,” where they would all imitate Danny’s suave style and proudly go to school. In the Life Is Good video below, you can watch scenes from that day — more than 40 boys wore suits. Danny led the march.

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“It could have turned ugly. The boys could have gone to the playground and said, ‘Who’s doing this to you? Where are they?'” Keefe told The Mighty. “But instead they responded in this very adult-like, peaceful way. It was all about love and support.”

Nearly six months later, Danny confidently walks around the school hallways. No one picks on him anymore, his mom says.

“It’s kind of the opposite now,” Keefe told The Mighty. “Kids go up to him and say, ‘Hey, you’re the kid from TV!'”

Family friends have also started a fundraiser to help the Keefes afford Danny’s expensive speech therapies. Out of the 100 sessions he needs this year, insurance will only cover about 15, Keefe says. It’s a battle she downplays, though — her son’s happiness is a priority.

“Danny started crying when he saw everyone in suits that day,” Keefe recalls. “He was only 6 but it was like he understood the magnitude of what happened. I’m just so thankful the parents in my community raised such kind young men.”

Watch Danny’s story in this Life Is Good video, directed by Tim O’Donnell:


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An Open Letter to a Child With Autism, From a Teacher

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Dear ________,

You may not know it, but you are on my mind more than you may think.  I think about you all the time. I see you. I want to help. I try to honor your inner landscape and intervene, not overpower. I try to talk with you, not at you. That’s why I do what I do; for you, with you, and with the others who care so much about you. Just like I do.

What do I do with you? I work to create a breadcrumb trail for you to follow, each and every day. Even if it seems unnecessary or confusing. Even if the intervention is “repetitive” or “not working”. I eagerly count each success and fiercely guard each disappointment I feel, so that you don’t get discouraged when things are hard. I’m aware of your attempts to reach out, to learn, to understand, and to make sense of the world around you. I’m aware that it can be a fun yet scary place, and that it’s hard sometimes to “fit in”. I try to watch out for you and cater to your strengths and preferences, while being mindful of your challenges and dislikes. I cherish our time together and each triumph, each smile, laugh, and word. I relish the unique mindset and skill set you demonstrate, and each opportunity to help you expand your horizons.

That’s why I use a combination of toys and technology, of free play and structured activities, and spontaneous conversation and elicited question and answer sessions, at different times, to help you learn to:

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So I make seemingly random comments and suggestions to you and your family. I suggest that you do things you may want or not want to,  like (under supervision!)

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  • Spending time taking mini-road trips and outings around the neighborhood

I know, I know, you may think I’m pushy. I admit that I’m trying to teach you lots and lots. But I have a secret to share…..you have already taught me so much more than I could ever teach you! Each and every encounter I have with you enriches my life, and makes me realize things about myself, about the world, that I never knew! I also never knew how much patience and love my heart could hold, or how creative I can get with my lesson and daily planner!

Thank you for being you, and for giving me the opportunity to see who you really are. Thank you for trying so hard and for not giving up on me. I won’t give up on you. We’re in this together, and I can’t wait to see what you do next!

Love,
_________

This post originally appeared on Friendship Circle.

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Couple With Cerebral Palsy Finds an Awesome Way to Get to Prom

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Why take a limo to prom when you can arrive in this fashion?

When Kelsie Levad and her boyfriend, AJ Novotny, couldn’t find a vehicle that accommodated wheelchairs to bring them to their pre-prom dinner, the Arvada Fire Department in Arvada, Colo., stepped in.

Firefighters offered to take the teens, who both have cerebral palsy, in a firetruck. Neither AJ, who volunteers at the station every week, nor Kelsey knew the plan until the night of prom. They’d shown up thinking they were just taking pictures in front of the trucks. Afterwards, the Arvada team broke the news.

“It was exciting for all of us to see the joy in his face,” AJ’s para-educator, Dianna Boyer, told TODAY. “They were beside themselves.”


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