When you hear the word “special” it can mean many things, in the case of Jacob, it means living in a world that is truly his own and helping him cope with the world around him. Jacob has a genetic abnormality. He is missing a piece of his 4th chromosome which has led to cognitive and developmental delays. Along with the chromosomal abnormality, Jacob exhibited autistic tendencies and was later diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, on the Autism Spectrum.
I didn’t realize that Jacob was different from other babies until he was one year old. I thought that his developmental delays and the various complications were because he was 5 weeks premature. When doctors and specialists talk about developmental milestones, I had no idea that Jacob had his own agenda as far as development. Jacob walked and eventually crawled, which wasn’t his favorite thing to do and the rest fell into place, but it took a lot of time for these developments to flourish. In fact, he didn’t speak a word until he was 5 years old. Jacob became quite good at sign language and for a child who couldn’t speak he somehow got his point across loud and clear. Now, he doesn’t stop talking.
Jacob is unique in the fact that no one else has this particular deletion of the 4th chromosome. He seemed to baffle the medical professionals, but luckily we’ve found a good mix of medications that work well for Jacob to help him function in his day to day routine. Along with the medications, throughout the years Jacob received many therapies…occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, which helped Jacob develop and strengthen his fine motor skills, his gross motors skills and coping mechanisms to manage his sensory issues. Now, Jacob receives in home therapy through ABA of Wisconsin to help with intense behaviors.
Today, Jacob is 20 years old. He graduated with all of his peers from Union Grove High School in 2013 and is now attending Careers Industries in Racine, WI. Careers Industries is a vocational facility for adult with disabilities, which offers fulfilling work and other programs for adults with disabilities.
I’m hoping that by sharing Jacob’s journey, I may somehow help other families facing similar challenges, and maybe answer some questions on how to cope and how to help deal with the day to day struggles. I think when you realize that you’re not alone and that there are other people who are experiencing some of the same battles with their children, things seem a little easier.