(posted July 6, 2021)

Braden was diagnosed with 22q deletion shortly after his birth on April 8, 2013. He was born with multiple heart defects that required emergency surgery. The surgeon felt certain that Braden had 22q when he discovered that Braden didn’t have a thymus gland. The surgeon’s diagnosis was confirmed two weeks later through various medical tests.

In addition to being diagnosed with 22q, Braden also has nonverbal autism. As a result, he attends a special day class and receives adaptive PE services and speech and occupational therapy. Braden enjoys his small classroom environment and the curriculum that has been specially designed for him to help him navigate easily.

Braden is a busy 8-year-old boy. Between his therapy and doctor visits, Braden stays happy by going to the park, jumping on trampolines, swinging and taking adaptive swimming lessons. He also enjoys going on car rides, playing with light-up toys and riding on theme park rides. Braden’s proud mom says, “Everything he does is an accomplishment to us because they told us he may never walk. Now he walks, jumps and even runs. We celebrate the small stuff!”

According to Braden’s mom, he has grown into one of the most kind and loving individuals she has ever met! His teachers always say how much they love him and how he is so sweet.

Because of his severe autism, his family believes he will be living with them for the rest of his life. However, they want to help him become as independent as possible and for him to live his life to the fullest by exploring and experiencing new and fun things.

Fortunately, for Braden and his family, there is a college for people with special needs close to their home that teaches life skills. Braden’s mom plans on looking further into this opportunity when Braden gets older.

Although having a child with 22q has been the hardest thing Braden’s mom has ever done, she says he has taught her love, compassion, empathy and, most importantly, to treat others the way you want your child to be treated. She advises other 22q parents, “Always trust your instincts. If you think something isn’t right, trust yourself. Always stand up for your child and don’t be embarrassed. Sometimes to get the help we need, we have to scream from the tops of the mountains and that’s okay. It might seem silly when you are doing it, but people will respect you for it later. And lastly, our personal favorite, celebrate the small stuff! Everyone living with 22q is truly a miracle!”