Olivia Donna Gelardin was exquisite. At almost 5 years old, Livy, as we called her, was delighted to watch sunlight reflect off the window, feel the sand run through her fingers in her garden, splash soapy water in the bath tub with her brother.
She was our first, our dream-come-true baby, our patient teacher.
Livy was born with Schizencephaly, a rare neurodevelopmental disability characterized by global delays in gross and fine motor skills, cognitive functioning and speech.
Initially, her diagnosis made us anxious. My wife and I have physical disabilities and understood how to advocate for our own needs, but our daughter’s reality was somewhat unfamiliar ground. Mostly, we feared that her intellectual disability would result in exclusion from participating in play, learning and peer-relationships. We sought every opportunity to help our little girl grow and thrive. With the support of early intervention, intensive therapeutic supports, various State-funded services, love and support from family and, most of all, Livy’s extremely hard work, our little girl blossomed.