Don’s a TAFT Hero

Don’s a TAFT Hero

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.”

About our Hero of the Month

Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.

Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.

A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.

But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.

Isabella & Madison

Isabella & Madison

Isabella and Madison were born at only 23 weeks, 6 days. The impossibly tiny micro-preemies weighed just over one pound, Isabella weighing only 1.4lbs and Madison even smaller at 1.3lbs.
Being born so early, both girl’s systems were underdeveloped. Isabella had blood clots and required multiple surgeries including heart and eye surgery. Madison also underwent surgery and battled infections. Both girls required oxygen treatments to develop their lungs.

It was a long road for Mom and Dad, Glorimar and Jared. Both were devoted to the care of their children and remained with their daughters every day. Remarkably, the girls thrived and miraculously were discharged around their original due date without requiring oxygen support.

The family was relieved and emotionally drained from their time at the hospital when they were finally settled in at home. However, like many babies born this early, the girls physical development coupled with their medical issues also left them at high risk for developmental delays. The family quickly discovered bringing providers and therapists from Early Steps at CDTC into their home would be a welcome experience.

Immediately, Isabella and Madison took to their occupational therapist, Debbi. She was warm and friendly and the girls looked forward to seeing her. Debbi, along with a physical therapist, would teach them how to crawl properly, sit properly, and eventually walk. Glorimar noticed after each visit how Isabella and Madison would utilize the techniques they learned, and the girls excelled even faster.

Both girls have also received therapy helping them with sounds and verbalizing words. They’ve had to work hard at increasing their ability to express themselves and socialize with others around them.
At the age of two, the children are now all caught up to their age group. And, the family could not be more grateful for Early Steps and the assistance they received.

About our Hero of the Month

Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.

Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.

A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.

But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.

Sophia

Sophia

The day just got better in CDTC’s Dental Clinic. Seven-year-old Sophia is coming today!

This jubilant little girl is a little ray of sunshine for our dentist Dr. Alonso and her team. They look forward to her chatty, happy visits.

“Instead of us cheering her up (during her visit), she’s the one that cheers us up,” exclaims Dr. Alonso.
This wasn’t always the case.

Dr. Alonso remembers her first visit three years ago. She cried the whole time. Her mom had to hold her the entire time. That day the team worked overtime to comfort the little girl.

Sophia, who has Turners Syndrome, came to the Center for our Early Steps program. In 2015, after aging out of Early Steps, she joined Extraordinary Children, Healthy Outcomes (ECHO). The family has lots of support when it comes to Sophia’s health. Besides seeing our dentist, she regularly sees Dr. Robinson in our Primary Care Center. Her ECHO Care Coordinator Ange assists the family with her medical needs and services.

Today, Sophia welcomes her regular six-month checkups. She has outgrown her thumb sucking. Her teeth are healthy and bright. Which is an important thing for an always smiling, outgoing child!

You’ll never forget Sophia once you meet her. There is no such thing as a stranger to her. She makes sure to meet everyone she can; always asking questions, getting to know you and sharing with others.

“She’s always happy and brings smiles to everyone,” shares Ange.

About our Hero of the Month

Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.

Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.

A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.

But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.

Zoe

Zoe

Eleven-year-old Zoe was born with Down Syndrome. Her journey has been challenging, but she’s proven that nothing will hold her back.

Zoe’s milestones were tough. Communicating was a barrier; she was only pointing until the age of three. Early intervention would be key for the family.

Coming from a small town, Zoe was loved and accepted. However, the family didn’t have access to the many services they could have. Luckily, when they moved to Fort Lauderdale, her uncle who is a pediatrician suggested CDTC.

At age 6, the family starting seeing Dr. Robinson and joined our Lift a Child to Health program for help. In fact, today they live in Coral Springs but continue to travel to the Center for the assistance the family needs.

Zoe’s family have always remained optimistic though managing her health needs has been challenging. They’ve made sure her condition has never changed how much she is loved of how she’s treated.

Mom has always been eager to learn more about her daughter’s diagnosis. Working together with her CDTC care team has helped the family stay on track and Zoe thrive.

Speech therapy aided the little girl learn to communicate. Zoe became calmer and more wise. Now a pre-teen, Zoe is becoming more aware of the things she can and cannot do. She is stubborn and occasionally frustrated, but she is growing into quite the extraordinary young lady.

Thanks to a wonderful special needs teacher, Zoe is doing great in school. She has started the sixth grade, enjoying science and reading. Zoe loves homework, making sure it’s the first things she does when she gets home. Her tenacity earned her “Student of the Year” last year.

School isn’t just about learning though. Zoe is popular and social. She loves making friends and is always empathetic about her fellow students’ well being.

Zoe continually strives to be the best version of herself. With the love, acceptance and support of her family and CDTC, she is a positive and happy child.

“Overall, it’s hard and there will be moments you feel like crashing down,” shares Mom Zoe. “But it’s good to remain positive.”

Her mom has learned a lot about Zoe over the years. She continues to be proud of her daughter and amazed at how smart and motivated her amazing little girl is. She is thankful for the love and care Zoe receives at CDTC.

About our Hero of the Month

Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.

Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.

A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.

But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.

Octavio

Octavio

Eleven-year-old Octavio just won his debate competition. It was his team’s first time competing. They argued on topics from bullying to immigration. Their success is sweeter when you realize the members of his team are hearing impaired.

Like all parents, Miriam and Octavio were excited to welcome their son into the world. But joy turned to concern, nervousness and worry when little Octavio was born premature and required care in the NICU at Broward Health Coral Springs. It heightened when doctors transferred the family to Broward Health Medical Center’s NICU to provide the more intensive care and services he needed.

The worry was emotionally draining. For three months they traveled back and forth to be with their son, exhausting themselves physically. But caring for Octavio remained the most important thing in their lives. 

The physicians and nurses in the NICU educated the family on the to Early Steps and the Pediatric Center at CDTC when he was discharged. They immediately made their appointment for an evaluation.

It was Early Steps that would help with developmental issues resulting from his slow growth. They have built a deep relationship with their Primary Care Physicians at CDTC as they worked through Octavio’s diagnosis and treatment.

At age three, Octavio joined Extraordinary Children, Healthy Outcomes (ECHO). The Center’s Medical Home program helps the family navigate the specialists, procedures and care Octavio needs. It’s also an additional support system that helps the family thrive.

The rarity of his genetic condition has made a diagnosis difficult. Until recently, his condition was believed to be Meier-Gorlin Syndrome, a rare genetic condition affecting growth and often hearing. They are currently looking at other possibilities. Regardless, Octavio’s hearing has suffered.  

In 2015, physicians agreed Octavio was finally ready to receive implants to restore his hearing. His CDTC Care Coordinator Rosa has been amazed at his progress ever since. “He’s caught up with his peers. He’s very outgoing and has lots of friends. He talks a lot,” she shares.

His mom Miriam, is grateful for the support they have found at CDTC the past eleven years. She stopped working to be home for her son when he needs her and is devoted to his care. Her advice to other families caring for a child with special needs, “give your child a chance to develop and grow without making him feel less or spoiling them.”

About our Hero of the Month

Each month, CDTC staff nominate one of our children as our Hero of the Month. These special boys and girls are heroes in our eyes. They show strength, perseverance, determination and a positive outlook while facing great challenges.

Their stories are powerful and heartwarming and reflect the impact CDTC and you, our community, has on their daily lives.

A trip to our Clinic is more than just a doctor’s visit to a child with special healthcare needs.

But, insurance doesn’t cover everything. That’s why your gift is so important.