Every child should be limitless
“We all have something unique or different about us,” according to Padgett Mozingo, experienced public relations professional, wife and passionate mother of two children, a 15-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter.
Padgett is sharing Lila’s story and that of her family as she navigates the process of creating a South Carolina nonprofit organization, Limitless Purpose, to support families like her own who have children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome so that every child can reach their full potential.
“We’ve discovered that no matter how limitless we may consider our daughter, getting others to think the same is not easy. Some embrace and love her unconditionally. Others make assumptions based on her diagnosis and appearance.”
Four months before her birth, Padgett and Mark Mozingo learned their baby daughter would require open-heart surgery and that she would be born with Down’s syndrome. Today, 8-year-old Lila is a bundle of energy and thriving in her family and school despite the earlier assumptions of others.
But family adjustments have to be made for everyone, and Padgett, Mark and brother Garrett have filled that job with enthusiasm, hope and lots of love. Lila is benefiting from an engaged family and an inclusive education. She started public school classes at age 3 and is now enrolled in an open Montessori School.
There are many challenges too. Early intervention is critical for Lila’s success. She attends four hour-long weekly therapy sessions, plus doctors’ appointments with a cardiologist, endocrinologist, audiologist ENT as well as speech, occupational and physical and recreational therapies.
Lila is in good company with other activists who happen to have disorders considered as handicaps such as Greta Thunberg and Temple Grandin both of whom are on the autism spectrum.
Like Down’s syndrome, autism including Asperger’s, is a highly variable neurodevelopment disorder whose symptoms first appear during infancy or childhood and generally follow a steady course without remission.
Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist, says, “I have Asperger’s Syndrome and I’m sometimes different. Given the right circumstances, being different is a SUPERPOWER.”
The leader of a global movement to slow, stop or reverse climate change, this international celebrity is also a Nobel Peace Prize nominee who recently graduated from secondary school despite extensive international travel during her last school year.
Another advocate and international spokesperson for people with autism, Temple Grandin was very young when her parents disagreed with the medical advice to have her institutionalized. Instead they took her to the world’s leading researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital.
From the age of two, she received personalized speech therapy from the medical community, and by age three, a nanny was brought into the family to play educational games with Temple for hours. Enrolled in a kindergarten, her teachers and classmates helped create a positive environment for her special needs.
Grandin was in her 40’s before being formally diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. She is an international expert on animal behavior and humane treatment of animals having earned a PhD and published over 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers,
Grandin advises families of children with autism to begin very early intervention and to find supportive teachers using appropriate methods and care. Despite her many accomplishments, Grandin says that autism still effects every aspect of her life.
Padgett Mozingo’s mission to advocate for Lila and others born with Down’s syndrome will be a resource for South Carolinians and beyond. www.Limitlesspurpose.org
As she awaits non-profit status for the foundation, her entire family is preparing and delivering gourmet food around Columbia – melt in your mouth sourdough bread, fig and blueberry preserves, a butter pecan Bundt cake with maple glaze and more. For more information, text or email [email protected] or call 803-476-7124.
I’m awfully proud of Padgett, one of my earliest co-workers whose enthusiasm and creativity helped to jumpstart the 1989 Seatbelt-use-law in South Carolina. That effort has saved countless lives ever since.
Susan Hendricks was the Executive Director of Safety Belts for South Carolina (1985-1992). Today, she leads personal writing groups and workshops approved for CEU credits by the SC Social Work Examiners Board for licensed mental health counselors and is an instructor for the online Therapeutic Writing Institute & Center for Journal Therapy. All of her previous Columbia Star Newspaper articles are online: www.susanhendricks.com/columbia-star-news
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