Emily Meagher is a young mother who shares her life on her YouTube channel (EM&KIDS). At the age of 18, Emily gave birth to her daughter Abigail (Abby) who was born with Hypotonic Ataxic Cerebral Palsy. From then on Emily became a strong advocate for her daughter making sure Abby would thrive in life.
Emily shares medical professionals initially brushed off her concerns when Abby was not hitting the ‘average’ milestones as a baby. She was told that Abby would hit her milestones when she was ready. But once Abby was seen at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, she received the diagnosis of having a developmental delay, and was referred to a neurologist who confirmed Abby was born with cerebral palsy which was caused by Dandy-Walker Malformation.
Doctors told Emily and her husband that Abby did not have a chance of walking and was going to be intellectually impaired.
“Once we got her diagnosis, it was a lot of mixed emotions.”
Emily states that getting Abby’s diagnosis was full of mixed emotions. “It was a very positive thing because then we could set (Abby) up for treatments, educate ourselves, and learn how to help her,” she says.
However, Emily also faced difficulty in learning about her daughter’s disability because she did not know any parents in similar situations. She says, “It was also very hard to adjust into a role of a special needs parent when I did not have any support and I did not know any other parents going through similar situations. I felt like an outcast to the parents that I was around because they’re children were able to do things that Abby wasn't yet. They didn't understand what we were going through and really didn't know what to say to us which made things uncomfortable.”
Emily shares the following advice for parents whose children just received a diagnosis: “YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Yes, the diagnosis may be rare. Yes, your situation will never be the exact same as someone else’s but there are so many other parents out there that go through this transition. Things may look different for your future but that is only a negative thing if you make it. Remember that your little warrior is watching you, listening to you. They will feel what you feel when it comes to the situation.”
Community - Inclusion
“Having a community is everything. Like I mentioned before, you're not going to find someone with the exact same situation that you may be going through. But sometimes just having someone that understands and celebrates the accomplishments, no matter how little,” says Emily.
She suggests finding support groups on Facebook like the Warrior Mixer Initiative which has a list of mothers with children with disabilities in different states so you can connect with someone in your area. Emily also advises to check out hashtags on Instagram like #cerebralpalsy #specialneedsmom.
“Someone who can hear about your struggles and tough days and say “yeah you’re right this is so hard.” It means the world.”
Emily’s last piece of advice is for people with curious minds when they see someone who has a disability. Instead of staring, just say hi! However, Emily also reminds us “Not every person with a disability or special needs mom is comfortable with the questions and they may be hurtful or offensive, no matter how innocent they are meant to be.”
“The only goals that we care about are simply INDEPENDENCE and HAPPINESS. No matter what the looks like, no matter what equipment is in use,” says Emily when talking about goals for Abby’s future.
“As convenient as this could be sometimes to just do it for her, I know that it is not the way for Abby to learn and progress with her independence.”
Emily is full of pride when discussing her daughter’s accomplishments. “(Abby) has accomplished so much in the past years, months, weeks. I attribute her success to our daily routines,” she says. Abby may need some assistance throughout the day, but one of Emily’s goals for Abby is to help her become more self-sufficient. “Abby does need assistance throughout the day BUT no matter what the task is, Abby is expected to try,” says Emily.
Thanks to Emily for sharing her story with AbleThrive.com!
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