Harrison’s mommy, Michelle Gilliam, sat down with Warren Miller of WJCT to talk about raising a son with Down syndrome. You can hear her story and learn more about how this mother of a child with Down syndrome speaks out about her love for her son by clicking here.
In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I’m raising a toast to my nearly 21-month old son, Harrison. While raising a child with special needs has not been the easiest ride, I don’t think parenting is ever simple. However, despite the ups and downs, you have shown me you can do so much more than I ever expected you to do, and you’re not even two.
When I found out prenatally that Harrison would have Down Syndrome, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I cried, I researched, and I wrote. I recently found a note I wrote to myself around that time, listing all the things Harrison wouldn’t be able to do because he would have Down Syndrome. Ironically, one of the things on the list referred to water. “He may never be able to swim,” I wrote. Harrison started swimming lessons this past summer at around 15 months old and can’t get enough. He kicks his legs and moves his arms the moment he sees drops of water, let alone a pool. He got excited yesterday while we were washing the dog because the water droplets hitting his little head might have signaled the presence of a swimming pool nearby.
I was afraid that because of his disability, Harrison would look nothing like us or act differently than his mom and dad. He is the spitting image of his father. Replace Harrison’s blonde hair with brown, and a mini-me of my husband stands in front of you. On my list of pre-Harrison Down Syndrome fears, I wrote, “He may not be sarcastic like his father.” (Looking back, I have no idea why this was one of my dreams for my child, but you can’t change the past.) Just the other day, I asked Harrison to come to me. He doesn’t yet walk, but has this one-armed crawl that takes him from one room to another. As he started to approach me, I said, “Faster, faster,” and he crawled with vigor. He got within arms-reach and turned around, looking back with a smirk. Lack of sarcasm concerns gone, I wonder what other accomplishments on my “fear list” he will soon complete.
I took my Down Syndrome-fear list and hid it in a dark corner of the spare bedroom closet. I don’t want to see it for many, many years. I’ve learned there is no need to be afraid of what my child may or may not do, I need to embrace how lucky I am to have a spunky, charming child, “disability” or not.
Here’s to Harrison. You light up a room when you enter. I’ve never met anyone with your charisma who can cause people to stop me in the grocery store so they can smile and goo at you. Despite your down syndrome, you raise me UP. I love you, Harrison. My life could never be the same without you.
I recently wrote a blog post for Health Source Magazine entitled “Three Tips to Deal with a Special Needs Diagnosis.” Check it out here.
Jacksonville’s Only Full-Service Specialized Cleaning Company to Make $100 Donation to Allergy & Immunology Department at Nemours Children’s Clinic with Every Complete Home Care Service Booked Through May 31
One of my public relations clients with my consulting firm, Point Taken Communications, has some great news. First Coast Home Pros, a Jacksonville-based cleaning service, is recommending ten tips to spring clean your home for better health. Northeast Florida’s only full-service specialized cleaning company is also making a donation to the Pediatric Allergy and Immunology Department at Nemours Children’s Clinic Jacksonville to encourage people to rid their homes of allergens.
“Spring cleaning is often associated with clearing out clutter and making a fresh start,” said Josh Kennedy, president of First Coast Home Pros. “However, spring is a popular time to clean your home thoroughly to ensure you eliminate pollen, dust and mold that can accumulate during the colder months.”
Kennedy offers ten tips to thoroughly and efficiently clean your house for better health such as:
- Wash and dry all linens and quilts: Sheets and comforters can harbor dust mites. Wash in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) and dry in a hot dryer to kill mites. Kennedy also recommends flipping mattresses during spring cleaning and using allergen-proof bed covers.
- Clean all light fixtures and dust all ceiling fans and air vents: Dust mites accumulate on ceiling fan blades and light fixtures. Wear a mask and use a damp cloth or vacuum to wipe blades. Avoid using a feather duster as it can spread mites instead of trapping them.
- Wash and dust all baseboards, walls, door and window molding: Dust, pollen and pet dander often accrues on the lips of baseboards and molding. Wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth. Dab with a dry cloth to avoid mold growth.
- Wash each window inside and out: Sanitize windows to remove all pollen and mildew. Kennedy also suggests taking down blinds and cleaning shades individually.
- Move the refrigerator, stove, washer and dryer and scrub under each appliance: Wash floors thoroughly to remove all dust and food particles which can grow mold and attract bugs such as cockroaches.
- Sweep, vacuum and mop all tile and hardwood floors: Mix a small quantity of ammonia, cleaner and warm water and apply to floor using a sponge mop. Rinse with cool, clear water and dry with a soft cloth. Make sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your skin from the ammonia. Kennedy also suggests mopping with a vinegar and water solution for maintenance cleaning.
- Vacuum and clean the carpets in each room: Vacuum to remove all dust mites from carpets. Mites can quickly and easily pass through vacuum bags, so use a high-efficiency filter or immediately empty vacuum canister into an outside trash bin. Steam clean to remove even more remaining allergens.
- Wash all area rugs: Vacuum and consult care labels before washing area rugs. Machine-wash on delicate cycle when appropriate and dry on a clothes-drying rack or slatted picnic table to keep the rug’s shape. Natural fiber rugs may require professional cleaning.
- Clean the inside and outside of the microwave, oven and refrigerator: Wipe all surfaces to avoid mold. Empty and clean drip pans and clean or replace rubber seals around doors.
- Dust all high objects: Use a damp cloth or vacuum to remove dust and mites from ledges, door and window frames, photos and cabinets.
First Coast Home Pros offers Complete Home Care cleaning packages including exterior pressure washing, window washing, air duct cleaning, carpet cleaning and tile and grout cleaning. First Coast Home Pros’ Complete Home Care packages also include services provided in the company’s maintenance cleaning plans such as wiping counters, scrubbing sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, wiping light switches and door handles and gathering trash. For an additional cost, First Coast Home Pros can provide other services such as roof cleaning, upholstery cleaning or dryer vent cleaning.
Through May 31, First Coast Home Pros will donate $100 to the Allergy and Immunology Department at Nemours Children’s Clinic Jacksonville for each Complete Home Care service booked. Prices range depending on the size of the home and scope of the cleaning. To book a Complete Home Care cleaning, call 904.383.7721 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About First Coast Home Pros
First Coast Home Pros is Northeast Florida’s only full-service specialized cleaning service offering maid services, carpet, tile, and upholstery cleaning, window cleaning, pressure washing, roof and gutter cleaning, as well as air duct and dryer vent cleaning. First Coast Home Pros employs highly trained professionals and prides itself on offering unsurpassed service. More information about First Coast Home Pros is available at www.firstcoasthomepros.com.