12-year-old Brianna loves coloring, painting and music. In the summertime her favorite activity is – without question – playing in the water. She’s even been dubbed ‘the little mermaid’ because of her beloved pastime. Another part of Brianna’s life is her Angelman Syndrome diagnosis. Angelman Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects the nervous system.
Brianna was diagnosed at the age of one, and was raised at home by her mother, Kandice. Around Brianna’s 7th Birthday, Kandice met with Faith, Hope & Charity (FHC - A division of Hope Haven, Inc.) in Storm Lake, IA to learn more about respite services for Brianna. However, when staff heard of the comprehensive care and close watch that Brianna required at home, they also provided Kandice with information about residential services available in an intermediate care facility for the intellectually disabled (ICF/ID).
At the time, Kandice was a single mom raising three young girls all on her own. When she learned that the ICF/ID at FHC was equipped to provide 24 hour medical services, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, among many other services, Kandice evaluated this new option with more thought. Additionally, she took into consideration the “home away from home feel” of FHC, and the growing level of care and attention her other two young daughters also required.
Still, Kandice grappled with the choice. “It was an extremely hard decision, the hardest I've ever made,” she remarks. After careful deliberation, she decided to move forward with the ICF/ID option for Brianna, “I know my child, who needs an extreme amount of care - more than just one person can provide - is getting the constant care and monitoring she needs to thrive.”
Brianna made the move to FHC in 2014, and has experienced significant growth over the past five years. With help from staff, she has identified methods and activities that are therapeutic and beneficial for her, like sensory engagement. Brianna is non-verbal, so she has also learned to use a communication board to share her thoughts. She’s continually working towards increased independence and more social activity.
When she’s not at FHC, she delights in time spent with mom, dad, two sisters and a brother. Her family comments on her playful spirit, sense of humor and sweet demeanor. It’s also noted that when she’s away for long periods of time, Brianna is eager to return to FHC. “She has made huge progress and now considers FHC her home,” affirms Kandice.