by Kimberly Garland
July 22 is a very special day for our family. First, it is the 31 st anniversary of motherhood for me – 31 years ago, my oldest son, Jonathan, was born. Second, it is the day our youngest son, Caleb, will be on stage in Parkway Playhouse Junior’s production of Disney’s Beauty and Beast Kids (His 5th Parkway Playhouse Jr. production). Third, July 22 is Fragile X Awareness Day Worldwide.
Fragile X Syndrome is a gene mutation that is the most common inherited cause of autism and in many, who have the full gene mutation, like Caleb, it also causes developmental disabilities. We discovered that Caleb had Fragile X Syndrome when he was three years old. He was slow to meet his milestones, but the real red flag was that he could speak well, but did not really use speech for communication; he just the repeated everything we said to him. That is called echolalia and it is a common characteristic of people who have Fragile X. (It is called Fragile X, not because the person who has it is fragile but because when the person’s X chromosome is looked at under a microscope, it looks like the end is broken.) Another common characteristic of Fragile X is perseveration – the tendency to become hyper-focused on one topic or to repeat one phrase over and over. Anxiety is also common and often causes the most problems.
We could not ask for a better place than Burnsville to raise our children, and that even holds true for Caleb with his special needs. Since the day Caleb was diagnosed, he has received therapy, care and instruction from some of the best and most dedicated therapists, doctors and teachers we could have ever had, but it wasn’t until we discovered his love of theatre, through Parkway Playhouse Junior, that we really felt like Burnsville offered everything he needed.
Parkway Playhouse Jr. has fully included Caleb since he was in his first play three years ago. They have never treated him like he was any less than a capable actor, dancer and singer. They even cast him as Prince Charming in their production of Disney’s Cinderella Kids!
Because they have always treated him as fully capable, he is his most capable, confident, happy self when he is at rehearsal or on stage in front of a full house. He comes home from six hours of rehearsal, energized and full of joy, because he has been in his element all day. (Our middle son, Gabriel, is also in his element when in a Parkway Playhouse production.)
Our family is so thankful for Parkway Playhouse and Parkway Playhouse Junior. You have been a huge blessing to our family!
So, come pack the house this weekend for Caleb and all the other campers!
We love our Parkway Playhouse Junior students and parents! Kim is just one of many who volunteers at the theatre and we couldn’t do what we do without people like her. It bears mentioning again we are also grateful for her and her family. We are equally delighted to see kids come alive on stage and to be a part of their education.
If you would like to share your Parkway Playhouse story, please send it to us.