Don Simms grew up dealing with a wide range of complicated health conditions including cerebral palsy, seizures and asthma. Although Don is twenty, he is non-verbal and needs constant care and oversight by his family.
Don was the family’s first child and mom had a normal pregnancy so her son’s diagnosis was a shock. “It was traumatic. You have goals for your kids, not having any idea that this is the journey we would have to walk. The reality of him not meeting milestones was really heartbreaking,” shares his mom Shaketra.
Through the years, the family has learned to adjust. They found Children’s Diagnostic & Treatment Center after leaving the hospital and have been grateful over the years for the good doctors and care they received. Dr. Lafrance has been his physician from the start. Her nurturing aura, ability to genuinely listen to concerns, and her honesty have been a source of comfort and strength to the family.
Thanks to the support she has received, Don’s mom is most proud of no longer being afraid of the unknown. She knows his care is not her burden alone and she’s learned to be vocal when it comes to advocating on behalf of her son’s care. “I have no fear of the unknown because she (Dr. Lafrance) is good at educating me on the possibilities of what could happen,” says Shaketra.
Today, Don is the nucleus of the family and every decision is made around his care. Even Don’s siblings are devoted to his care. They help look after him and assist with his meds and feeding. They are also willing to “go without” in a heartbeat if that means accommodating their brother’s needs.
Now that Don is 21, Shaketra knows the day is quickly approaching when the family will have to leave the care of CDTC. They have been working diligently with the Center’s Transitioning Adolescents Forward Into Tomorrow (TAFT) Program to plan for how to keep Don healthy and happy through adulthood.
The family’s dedication and perseverance makes them our hero. But to the family, Don is the true Hero. “He’s so resilient. Last year he almost died… but he’s such a fighter and because he’s such a fighter he makes me want to fight for him more.”