(posted January 22, 2021)
Jackson was born August 19, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was diagnosed with a VSD and ASD the day he was born. Thanks to the intuition of the on-call pediatrician, he was tested for DiGeorge based on these CHDs alone. We are still extremely grateful to this day for such foresight from this doctor. We truly believe this has made all the difference in Jack’s life. Thanks to him we were diagnosed early and received amazing early intervention throughout his younger childhood. Jackson underwent 5 surgeries before the age of 4 including open-heart surgery, a hernia repair, and a VPI repair. As many of you understand, it felt like we lived at the hospital for many years. If we weren’t preparing for a procedure, we were dealing with chronic sinus and ear infections or therapy sessions. Jackson struggled with speech until his VPI was corrected at age 4. He was non-verbal until age 3 and unintelligible to everyone besides close family. It is almost unbelievable to listen back to old videos and see how far his speech has come. Currently, you would not be able to tell he had any speech issues at all. He graduated from speech therapy 2 years ago. We are so grateful for all the amazing doctors and therapist that have worked with Jackson these last nine years. They truly have made all the difference.
Even with such an extensive medical history, Jackson has remained a silly, fun, smart, and loving little boy. He is currently in the 3rd grade and is doing amazing! He receives some classroom intervention due to his ADHD, but other than that is pretty much at the same level as his peers. He loves video games, YouTube, and Beyblades. We have tried multiple sports throughout the years, but the one that has really stuck is karate. He absolutely loves it! He has done extremely well competing in tournaments and has medaled in every competition he’s entered. He even took home his first Gold medal this year, which he worked extremely hard for.
Even though we have struggled with medical issues in the past and continue to struggle with behavior issues currently, I would just like to give a glimmer of hope to someone maybe new to this diagnosis. We were told initially that Jackson would probably have a low IQ and would never go to college. Although I do believe in being a realist and setting realistic expectations, I never had that mindset. From day one, I always believed Jackson would be Jackson, and he could do anything he wanted to in this life. I don’t know if he will choose to go to college, but I do see it as a possibility. I don’t like putting people in boxes. Continue to believe, dream, and hope because there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we all have a path that we were meant to walk. We are so proud of Jackson and everything that he has overcome and accomplished so far. We will continue to encourage him to dream big and work hard for all his goals.