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Brenyon — #Iam1in5

Brenyon, or B.B. for short, loves to look his best. Like most teenage boys he always wants the most trendy clothes and shoes. B.B. is an amazing boy who is loved by everyone in his school and town. B.B. also has cerebral palsy.

B.B. was diagnosed at age 3. His family knew from birth that he would be 1in5, but did not receive a diagnosis right away. Once receiving the diagnosis his family’s reaction was to find resources to help him. During B.B.’s time in the hospital, a nurse recommended that they sign him up for the CLASS program due to the long wait. It can take as long as 10-12 years to receive services in the state of Texas. Ability Connection became a part of B.B.’s team and provides the necessary resources to enable his family to receive the care he needs.

B.B. never ceases to amaze his family. They have learned to be more patient and not to put themselves first. B.B. is always so happy and is very much loved by his family.


Abraham — #Iam1in5

Abraham is a typical young man who enjoys social media, watching sports and hanging out with his friends and family. Abraham is also 1in5. Abraham was born with Cerebral Palsy and had difficulty communicating with his friends and family.

Abraham uses a communication device so he can communicate with his family and friends without difficulty. He uses eye gaze technology to access his social media, email and communication apps on a special device. Abraham used the Ability Connection Demonstration Center and attended our AAC User Group to gain a greater understanding of his communication device. Abraham is extremely proficient and is able to keep up with communication in real time. The communication device allows him to do the things he enjoys.

Like many 1in5, Abraham wants to be independent as possible. Abraham wants to be like every other kid and read, study and work. Abraham recently served on an advisory board for Texas Technology Access Program at University of Texas in Austin. Leah Gardner, Ability Connection’s Director of Assistive Technology said “We appreciate having him represent our area and give a voice on the advisory board”.


Amber — #Iam1in5

Amber was not diagnosed as 1in5 until she was two and a half years old. Amber is the youngest of three siblings and shortly after she was born, her mother noticed differences in her that were unlike her other two children. Amber did not seem to respond when her mother spoke to her and had very little interest in things her siblings did. At first, her mother thought she was hearing-impaired. Amber’s mother was also fearful that something else was wrong. With a lot of courage and fear, Amber’s mom mentioned her concerns to the pediatrician. A social worker then came to observe Amber at her home and within a few minutes she asked her mom if she was familiar with autism. Her stomach dropped, she didn’t know much about autism. Amber was referred to a neurologist where they tested her hearing and it was perfect, confirming the diagnosis of autism. Amber’s mom’s heart sank, she could deal with her daughter being hearing impaired but she didn’t think she could deal with autism.

Overwhelmed with little resources, her mother had no idea what to do. She enrolled Amber in the public school system at age 3. Today Amber is a young lady with low functioning autism. Amber is able to express what she needs in one word requests. She is unable to put together a sentence and her mother would give anything to have a conversation with her daughter. She’s hopeful one day she can.

Amber’s mother ensures that anything Amber wants to do happens. She tries her best to accommodate Amber. She may go to the store when it first opens to help Amber from being overwhelmed by large crowds. Amber has taught her mother to be more compassionate, patient and appreciate the little things. Ability Connection is involved in Amber and her mother’s life and has allowed them control of Amber’s care. Amber’s mother wanted to be sure she was making the decisions about her daughter’s care and she is very pleased with the support she has received from Ability Connection.


Isabella — #Iam1in5

Two weeks before Isabella was born a sonogram showed a healthy baby girl on the way. But then at 27 weeks, excruciating abdominal pain sent her mother to the hospital. Born at 2lbs 7oz, Isabella was rushed a children’s hospital where she would begin the fight for her life. After two days, Isabella’s parents were told the devastating news that their baby was on life support. She had a grade 5 brain hemorrhage, blood in her lungs and wouldn’t survive the night. It was recommended they take her off life support that day. Unwilling to give up on their daughter, they asked the doctors what options they had because they were never going to take their daughter off life support. Confident Isabella would be a miracle baby she underwent heart surgery. The days passed and Isabella began to prove she would indeed be a miracle baby.

Isabella continued to receive care at a children’s hospital until she was 4 years old. She later moved to a new children’s hospital where they began using a gate trainer to see if she could walk. She did! She took three steps and every week she took more and more steps. Isabella’s mother was so overwhelmed with happiness seeing her daughter walk for the first time. She was told her daughter would never walk and Isabella yet again proved the doctors wrong. Years later, Isabella’s legs locked up and she was forced to have surgery. The surgery left her immobile and unable to stand. Ability Connection has helped Isabella’s family by having excellent communication regarding her care givers and has made the family’s life easier. Isabella’s mother is thrilled with the care Ability Connection has for her and her family.

Isabella has had 28 surgeries in her short 13 years of life. She is an amazingly smart girl who loves McDonalds, Chinese food, clapping to Michael Jackson’s music, trick or treating, and Justin Bieber. Isabella’s mother loves her daughter unconditionally. She says having a child that is disabled and has special needs is like being on a rollercoaster. It has its ups and downs, straight ways and curves; you never know what’s coming up a drop or curve. You pray and hold on tight to each other until the ride stops. Although Isabella was not expected to survive nor was she ever expected to eat, walk, or talk, her parents never gave up on her. She reached those milestones in her own way.


Bradley — #Iam1in5

Bradley is a very active young man who is always on the go. You’ll often find him at the movies or enjoying time with his friends. Bradley is also a 1in5. He wants you to know that someone with a disability has feelings and needs like everyone else.

With the help of the Ability Connection team, Bradley has learned to do many things on his own. Through Rec Therapy, or as Bradley would like to call it “Life Therapy”, he has learned to schedule his own public transportation rides, plan a day at the movies or meet up with his friends. Life Therapy has really pushed Bradley to do things outside his home he normally wouldn’t do. He also really enjoys Equest Therapy through Ability Connection. These two therapies have made a big difference in Bradley’s life and have been greatly beneficially to his independence.

Being 1in5 has given Bradley a different perspective on life that he would not have if he did not have a disability. Bradley once had to depend on other people, but with programs through Ability Connection, he is able to live his own life more independently.


Dane — #Iam1in5

Born with cerebral palsy, Dane has gained a different perspective on life. Because he is often judged based on his disability; he works hard not judge other people. He is aware of the fact that there are people in the world who need help with many things and has learned to be very patient with himself and others.

With the help of Ability Connection, Dane has gained more independence and confidence; he knows he can do the things he wants to do, regardless of the challenges of being 1in5. Dane’s Ability Connection case manager has helped him have more control over his life and achieve his goals.

Once Dane graduates college, he plans to be a family counselor. His dream is to work specifically with individuals with disabilities, like himself, and their families. Dane is very involved in a student organization and serves as the student leader. Dane loves to ride horses, write stories and play sports; he is a strong swimmer. He has also once co-piloted a small plane. Dane totally believes having a good attitude dictates how you live your life and he is proud to be 1in5.


Shelby — #Iam1in5

Shelby was born a premature baby. In the beginning there were no signs that she would be 1in5 until she was about fifteen months old. Her parents were devastated with the news of their little girl who was diagnosed with brain abnormalities and later autism. There was no indication during the pregnancy of any disabilities.

Ability Connection has helped Shelby’s parents understand the disability services and programs they were eligible to receive and have always been supportive. Shelby has only been receiving assistance for the last 5 years. Prior to that, her parents paid for all of her needs through their own insurance. Shelby’s life has helped her parents grow thicker skin. They have accepted the little things and live a simple life to ensure Shelby’s needs are met. Shelby is like every other kid and she wants to be treated that way too. Her mom wants everyone to talk directly to someone with a disability and not be afraid because you don’t know how to approach them.


Candi — #Iam1in5

Candi became 1 in 5 at birth. She wasn’t alive when she was born and the doctors fought hard for 45 minutes to save her. She miraculously survived, but the doctors told her parents she had Cerebral Palsy and a cognitive disability. Her parents divorced when she was six and she was often left in the care of her sister who was just three years older. When her mother remarried, she was sent to a school for children with disabilities and began a life of institutions and being away from her family. In the 26 years she was housed in institutions, she saw her mother once a year and her father visited her twice. Candi felt abandoned and rejected by her family. She often asked herself ’why me’. She just wanted to be like everyone else, she wanted to walk and talk and have someone be proud of her.

Candi was often misunderstood and underestimated because of her physical disability. She couldn’t walk or talk. Intellectually, she knew everything that was going on but no one knew that besides her because she was unable to communicate. During her time at the institution a teacher saw something in Candi and encouraged her to dream. Unfortunately, the institution where she lived closed and Candi moved in with her sister. After Candi graduated High School, she moved into a Group Home in Terrell, Texas, where she lived for 10 years. At the group home she was very unhappy because she felt there was no one to believe in or encourage her. She spent all of her time on the computer, typing emails with her nose. She wanted a communication device, but the people in the group home where she lived wouldn’t approve it. Finally, a new group manager started and he and his wife took a great interest in Candi. She asked him to help get her into the Partners in Policymaking program, which is an advocacy policy group. Shortly after they attended their first weekend meeting, he and his wife invited Candi to move into their home. They became her mom and dad. She attended the policy groups for eight months and after her training, she fired the company that was her service provider for 20 years and found Ability Connection. She felt Ability Connection’s philosophy was in line with hers and provided the level of service she deserved. Ability Connection helped her get the communication device she longed for to live an independent life. Candi had dreamed of going to college for 15 years and now that was a possibility, she enrolled in 2006.

Now that Candi had such a positive outlook on life she reached out to her father. Her father apologized and was surprised by how much she had progressed and that she achieved more than he ever imaged she would. He asked Candi to forgive him for not being the father he should have been and she let him know she had already forgiven him before he asked. They had a close relationship until his passing. She had also learned to love her mother for who she was and had forgiven her.

Candi says when you have needed help all of your life, it is important to find a way to help other people. She used to think her disability made her less of a person but now she knows its part of her life plan to be in her body. If you know someone with a disability, Candi doesn’t want you to give up on them and realize they are a person and have feelings and want the same things as you do.


Christian — #Iam1in5

Before Christian was born, his parents knew he was 1in5. Because the pregnancy was high risk, a test was performed to determine if the baby was healthy and developing well. The results revealed he had Down syndrome. The parents’ initial reaction was to pray. Their next instinct was to find out if they were having a boy or a girl. The results came back and they found out the baby was a little boy. After tossing around a few names, they agreed to name him Christian. Their unborn baby with Down syndrome was now their son Christian.

During a pregnancy ultrasound, it was discovered that one of little Christian’s heart valves only had two leaves rather than three. Knowing that their tiny baby would need to have surgery to fix the defect, the parents asked their church to add Christian to their prayer chain. Ten days later, the parents visited a cardiologist to determine the action needed to heal Christian’s valve. While comparing the original photo and looking at Christian’s heart in real time on the monitor, the cardiologist could not believe it, but the valve now had all 3 leaves. This could only be a miracle.

Christian was born 1in5 and is an amazing young boy who is so loving to anyone he meets. Because Christian is non-verbal, Ability Connection granted him a communication device so he can have his own voice. This opportunity brought Christian and his parents together with other families whose children are 1in5. Christian’s dad wants people to know that those with a disability can accomplish great things, just maybe not in an expected time frame. Christian’s parents are so grateful for all of his accomplishments and have learned to greatly appreciate the small things in life.


Michael — #Iam1in5

Michael’s mom blamed herself for having a child with a disability at birth, asking what she could have done differently to prevent her son from being 1in5. She herself was born at high risk and beat the odds. She knew her son could do the same. She taught Michael to be very independent. He loves to share his motivation and drive to try new things with others with disabilities.

A person with a disability wants what everyone else wants and can do anything, albeit in a different way. Michael has learned to drive, loves to exercise, designs landscapes and works on trucks. When Michael graduated high school, he received a standing ovation for all of his accomplishments.

Ability Connection helped Michael’s family find resources that have given him a lot of freedom. Michael has overcome many obstacles and is a very active young man. He wants people to know not to give up on your dreams because anything is possible.


Hayden — #Iam1in5

Hayden, a twin, was born with Down syndrome. He was a healthy, happy little boy. At one and a half years old, Hayden suffered from an RSV infection that completely changed him. Rushed by ambulance, Hayden coded and suffered two strokes. The RSV infection severely damaged his lungs, nearly suffocating him, causing life changing brain damage.

Hayden’s mother was completely taken aback by this unexpected nightmare. At Hayden’s birth, her only concern was Hayden being accepted and now she was thrown into a world of wheelchairs, braces, and feeding tubes. Ability Connection was able to step in and clear a path through the jungle of disability services by providing her guidance and support for her son’s care.

Today, thanks to Ability Connection’s assistance, Hayden is a healthy, smiley high school student who loves music. Although Hayden and his family had a traumatic journey, they can’t imagine life without him. He brings his family so much joy it’s beyond words. Hayden’s mother tells anyone she can that having a child with Down syndrome is a lifetime of joy and they are beyond lucky.


Jason — #Iam1in5

In 8th grade, Jason was a straight A student and a very talented athlete. On August 10, 1982, his family received a tragic call that Jason had been struck on his bicycle by a hit and run driver. The panicked family rushed straight to the hospital having no idea of the condition of their young son. The first sight of him was lying on a bed shaking uncontrollably as the doctor told them he wasn’t going to make it. His devastated parents waited by his bedside, praying for a miracle. They sat vigilant for days as Jason clung to life and finally, Jason’s father received a clear message that his son would make it and shortly after that Jason was breathing on his own.

After months of feeding tubes, health issues and answered prayers; Jason was finally released from the hospital. Still in a coma, his family cared for him at home and took him to visit family and friends. Ability Connection became part of Jason’s team and gave the financial support necessary to enable Jason’s family to receive the care he needs.

Although Jason’s family has been through a long painful journey, his father can honestly say he is the luckiest guy in the world. He wants everyone to know no matter how tough it is to be 1in5, individuals with disabilities have feelings and they come first.


Surella — #Iam1in5

Surella never expected to say “Iam1in5”. She was always very active in her El Paso community. For years she brought dinner to widows, volunteered with many organizations and was always there to lend a helping hand. Unexpectedly, Surella fainted during a physical therapy session and hit her head. She suffered an internal bleed and was taken off her heart medication. Tragically, she suffered a severe stroke the day before her checkup. Her right side was debilitated, leaving her unable to speak. The very active Surella now needed help and was in her daughter’s care.

Surella’s daughter was initially very shocked and angered at this life changing event. She saw the way people treated her mother differently by not speaking directly to her, although she completely understood what was being said. Forced to quickly learn medical terminology and search for resources, Surella’s daughter found Ability Connection. After hearing about Surella’s acquired disability and her inability to speak, Ability Connection granted Surella a communication device. The technology will ease her frustration of being unable to speak by giving her a voice. The device is equipped with software that uses photos and pictures to construct sentences based on her selections.

Surella’s daughter is very grateful she is able to spend more time with her mom as she continues to advocate for her. She wishes that people would learn to speak directly to someone who is a member of the 1in5 and treat them like everyone else instead of making assumptions about what they understand.


Philip — #Iam1in5

Philip is very involved with his church, loves the TV show COPS, works on his computer and attends summer camps. Philip also has cerebral palsy. He wants you to know that you will be surprised by how much someone with a disability can do.

With the help of the Ability Connection team, Philip took his very first steps at a young age. Now Philip attends Ability Connection’s adult day habilitation program where he is a big help in the Technology lab. Everyday, he manages the computers and iPads as well as answering any questions he can.

Philip is independent at home with only minimal assistance from time to time. He schedules his own public transportation. He very much enjoys spending his time making jewelry, especially necklaces. Philip loves animals even more than people, especially dogs and cats. Philip was born 1in5 and is an independent, happy young man.


    • Andy Keye + Whitney Photography

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