Recorded Oct. 20, 2017; broadcast on Dec. 14, 2017.
Casey and Jennifer Simmons live in Devil’s Elbow, a tiny unincorporated town in Pulaski County. Their son Hunter has severe cerebral palsy and epilepsy and full disclosure – he goes to a school where my Dad was previously a teacher and the principal.
They shared their favorite Hunter stories and spoke about why you should never let others put limits on what your child can accomplish.
Region: Pulaski County
Related Issues: Disability
Jennifer: There are a lot of stories I can think of that I love when I think about Hunter, but the first one that came to mind was - and I wish I still had this on my voice recorder from my old cell phone. I think it might have been a flip phone then, who knows, but he said, “I love you.”
Which, Hunter is essentially nonverbal. I shouldn't say that. He talks, but it's more just nonspecific.
I spent a lot of time with him saying, “I love my mama. I love my mama." Over and over. And it was as clear as day he said it back to me, and I had it on a recording and its [now] gone for forever, but it's in my memory forever, which is awesome.
That was pretty sweet, and then, just, it's amazing how the little things that they accomplish are so huge and amazing to you, like just seeing him like be able to hold a cup and drink from it.
And I just think about his love for music, and how we use that a lot.
Casey: Yeah. We use music a lot to try to accomplish daily activities with Hunter. Things that you'd think would probably be easier, somehow are insurmountably difficult at times - just like bath time or shower time or what have ya.
When he was younger - and he's always loved music. Any kind of music - for the most part when he was younger it was always, or I guess we made the assumption that it was always more upbeat music like rock-and-roll or rap or what have you.
Well, there was one day, I think it was when we still had a bathtub in his bathroom, I was giving him a bath and he was not very happy about it, and I just happen to be flipping through different songs trying to find something that work and turned Merle Haggard on and he immediately did a 180 and enjoyed bath time from that point on.
So, he's a very well-rounded connoisseur of music.
Jennifer: Yeah, we don't like to talk about his love for Justin Bieber though, but there's a true love there.
When you have a child with special needs - doctors, therapists, even educators - you're gonna hear some terms along the way that you're not too fond of. That sort of limit what your child can achieve.
And when you hear those things, don't believe them. Because your child will do what they can do. I mean they'll do amazing things, but it's in their own time, and so when a doctor says, "they'll never walk," well, I'm sorry but...
Casey: They don't know that.
Jennifer: You don't know that. Who are you? You're not God. I mean, seriously, so don't take those things and just feel like "well, that's what your life is and this is how it's gonna turn out" because it may take years for a child to learn to hold up their own head, but, by God, they're going to do it.
So, just don't let anyone limit your belief in what your child can achieve.
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