Posts Tagged ‘cerebral palsy’

Pope Francis Blesses Child With Disabilities on Easter

April 4, 2013


“The moving images of this Easter Sunday moment at the Vatican have spread around the world over the last few days. Greeting followers in St. Peter’s Square from the “Popemobile,” Pope Francis called for 8-year-old Dominic Gondreau, who suffers from cerebral palsy, to be raised up to him. He proceeded to hug Dominic, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

Paul Gondreau, a theology professor at Providence College, had traveled with his wife and children to Rome to teach for a semester. He was shocked to see his son in the arms of the newly elected pontiff, and he shared the amazing experience with Megyn Kelly on America Live.

Gondreau said he was seated with his four other children further away from the pope. Dominic and his mother, Christina, had been summoned earlier by the Swiss Guards to move into a closer seating area with other disabled children.

Gondreau said one of his other sons pointed out what was happening, telling him it was actually Dominic that was being held by Pope Francis.

“(My son) said the pope is holding Dominic! That’s when I looked up at the Jumbotron and beheld  this grand moment and was immediately moved to tears with my son. I will cherish that memory forever,” he said.”


This moved me to tears, just had to share. May God Bless them both.

Children with Disabilities and Their Dads

November 10, 2010

I recently came across a wonderful story of a Dad who shares his story and insight about the struggles and joy of  raising  his child with disabilities.

I wanted to feature this story since fathers speaking out about their children with disabilities is quite a minority, but very important.

Chris Gabbard and his son August

As explained by his Dad, “August has cerebral palsy, is a spastic quadriplegic, has cortical visual impairment (meaning he is legally blind), is completely nonverbal and cognitively disabled, has a microcephalic head, and must wear a diaper. Moreover, he is immobile—he can’t crawl or scoot around or hold himself up or even sit in a chair without being strapped in it. …

At home, in the eyes of my wife, Ilene; our 7-year-old daughter, Clio; and me, he seems merely a little eccentric, possessor of a few odd quirks, as I said. We don’t think of him as being different; he is August, just another member of an already quirky family.”

The important part – via August’s Dad –  

“That is not to deny that August, along with my daughter and my wife, is the most amazing and wonderful thing that has ever happened to me, for he has allowed me an additional opportunity to profoundly love another human being. A person such as Peter Singer well may conclude, reasonably, that I have become overpowered by parental sentiment. So be it. I can live with that. There are limits to reason.”

A very worthwhile story to read. Chris allows the reader to travel through his fatherhood journey. Please read it, I highly recommend it !

Toys with a Mission featuring Differently Abled.

May 31, 2010

Too many always focus on the disabilities / deficits. Though as a Behavior Analyst, I always look for the ABILITIES  and strengths too.

I came acrossed this story and I love it. Just have to share it with those that come by here.

What a very worthwhile idea for people with disabilities !

Polson resident creates figurines for “differently-abled” children
A Toy With a Mission

Cyndi Elliott of Polson takes out her hand made dolls in her studio. – Craig Moore/For the Beacon

By , 05-28-10
POLSON – Cyndi Elliott is on a mission. 

It’s a mission fueled by the love of her brother, David, who, the youngest of 10 children, was born with Down syndrome.

A pediatric occupational therapist, Elliott has worked for the past 16 years with parents and children facing a variety of challenges, from birth defects to injury-related disabilities.

But she’s long been troubled by the traditional approach that seems to focus more on the disability and less on the person’s unique abilities.

An artist and painter and musician, Elliott’s initial idea was to write a children’s book – in honor of her brother, who now is 40 – to illustrate what the “differently-abled” community can do, not what they can’t.

But when she couldn’t sketch to her satisfaction, she set out to make a series of figurines.

“Kids with different abilities will have something to relate to, because they’re strong and because they have hobbies,” said Elliott, sitting in her Polson studio. “And they will have something to talk about, rather than the one condition that is on people’s minds.”

“It’s as simple as saying you have blues eyes,” she added. “(Say) ‘I have cerebral palsy,’ and then move on. It’s a piece of them, but it’s not cerebral palsy boy.”

All the figurines have names, diagnoses, are dressed in attire she designed and painted, are engaged in an activity and have a story to tell.

The eight-inch figurines took three months to complete and another three months to sew attire for, clothe and paint.

“Lily,” she said, was born with a partial limb, wears a prosthetic and is a dancer.

“She has a very strong personality,” Elliott said as she laid her work out on the table and told each doll’s story.

Elliott expects each doll to evoke different emotions. But the figurines are also an expression of Elliott’s own views, life experiences and clients with whom she has worked.

“I try to be a unique person,” she said. “To me, I think it was self expression.”

There’s “David,” in honor of her brother, as a musician; “Mary,” a barrel racer who suffered an infant stroke; Robin, an artist with cerebral palsy; “Steven,” a bike rider with epilepsy.

It’s David, who she laughs has “Up,” not “Down,” syndrome, that Cyndi has the hardest time talking about.

As the closest sibling, Elliott took care of David, but said in her adult years she realized the opposite was occurring.

“He was really a significant person in my life because he taught me,” she said.

“He even impacted me in the way I dress, the way I play (music), the way I build my house, the way I live … There’s no worry. There’s no stress. There’s no resentment. He never held anger. He is the most loving person in my life. I could have fun in a paper bag and I know I learned that from David.”

David also influenced Elliott’s career.

“The big joke is that I’m supposed to be helping people because I am a therapist,” Elliott said. “I really would emphatically like this message to go out: That when people have a limit in one area of their lives, other areas take off and bloom.”

Her brother David was born with a hole in his heart, common in Down syndrome, thus the name of her company “wHOLEhearted.”

From the situation with her brother David, she would also like parents to realize the values a differently-abled child passes along to siblings.

“This is the best compassion college you can ever put your child through, the best human college or school you could ever give a person.” Elliott said. “David taught me how to already know the richness is right there in the room with another person.”

Elliott is pursuing a toy manufacturer and, additionally, wants to use the metal, polymer clay coated devices to open doors to further her message.

“If I could leave this earth and know that a few people heard this and it shifted their lives and that a few kids would be saved (from the attempt of being fixed),” she said. “If I can empower parents to have a diverse way of looking at this, maybe that’s a way a parent can feel powerful in a way where they feel powerless.”

You can reach Cyndi Elliott, OTR/L, wHOLEhearted, LLC, at

This Behavior Analyst says to Cyndi Elliott  – mission accomplished !!

Update on 6/22/10 :  Cyndi contacted me directly and she is a very nice lady. She informed me that she now has her own website. Please visit!


Need an Accessible Van or Mobility products in NJ ?

February 7, 2009

I am sure that in the disability community that many are looking for reputable companies to provide disability related product lines at a reasonable expense. So from time to time I may post info about a company that I have had direct dealings with.

If you are looking for an Accessible van with ramps and other mobility options, I can recommend a company based in central New Jersey that I have dealt with. If you would like this info, please send me an email at with the subject line stating Accessible van or mobility. Please include what you are looking for and your contact info. I would be happy to refer your info to the company that I deal with for my clients that I have obtained accessible vans and mobility products for.