Feb 6, 2017

A family works together to show their daughter the value of a life without limits

There’s no limit to what can be accomplished when you’re a young girl brimming with enthusiasm, energy and happiness– even when faced with what many would consider unsurmountable health issues.  That’s the case with Jayleigh Dotson. No matter what the forecast is outside, the sun seems to always be shining when she is present.  With the help of a supportive family, and local programs designed to enrich and support lives, Jayleigh shows us all that the sky’s the limit!

Facing an uphill battle from birth, Jayleigh required immediate life support for heart and lung issues, spending the first 20 months of her life in the hospital. Diagnosed  with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, PVL, a form of brain injury, that can affect newborns, and diminished muscle tone,  she and her family have faced her formidable health challenges with determination and strength — fueled by abundant love and strong faith.

After a recent visit with Jayleigh, it become immediately apparent that she won’t let her disabilities create barriers to living a life without limits. In fact, from the moment the enthusiastic five year old  answered the door all by herself, it was clear that she and her loving family treat her disabilities as mere challenges to overcome, and their success at doing so was immediately obvious.

To learn more about Jayleigh and her family, we decided to head over to the nearby park.  As the family prepared for the outing, Jayleigh displayed  her independence by putting on her own shoes and excitedly announcing “Shoes on!” when she was ready to go. Upon arrival at the park, the kids played while we discovered more about Jayleigh, her health, her challenges and her accomplishments.

Her mother Amy, a stay-at-home mom, and father Sonny, a telecommunications account   manager and hands on dad, were welcoming and ready to talk with pride about their special family and the challenges they’ve faced.   They explained her two brothers, four year old Jaxton, is sensitive and patient with his sister’s special needs, while eight month old Jaymison, is happy to sit by and watch his siblings play.

Amy and Sonny felt confident the choices they had made to treat Jayleigh as normal as possible were key to her ongoing development.  Jayleigh entered preschool at the age three, while still on formula, accompanied by a nurse, completely nonverbal and wearing a spica cast. Several months after attending class she walked for the first time.  Although tasks such as dressing, bathing, combing her hair, walking up and down stairs, holding a pencil and writing continue to challenge her fine and gross motor skills, she has made phenomenal  growth in many other areas including eating, walking, talking, and becoming potty trained (just in time for kindergarten).

Both Amy and Sonny feel confident that entering their daughter in pre-school was exactly what she needed to challenge her growth, and they are confident kindergarten will be just as beneficial.  They feel strongly that her skills would not have advanced as quickly in any other setting. She no longer has a nurse, her health and behaviors are stable, and she is talking and communicating more with teachers and peers. Jayleigh has abundant determination and drive for her young age, trying hard to accomplish more each day. She thrives in social settings, enjoys gaining independence, and with the help of medication for ADHD , she now has the ability to control her past anxieties, allowing her to accomplish even more.

Jayleigh’s family knows she still faces significant challenges but they feel her progress has been remarkable.  They refuse to focus on weaknesses and choose instead to concentrate on strengths, saying, “she can do so much, she understands so much, she WILL accomplish so much!  We are always grateful – and we are never without hope.”

Guest Blogger: Alan Flynn

Do you know a family living with an adult or child with developmental disabilities including autism, epilepsy, intellectual disability, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy?  If so, do they know about UCP’s Family Respite Service? Respite can provide families with a much needed break by coming into the home and caring for a loved one. Respite helps reduce stress by allowing caregivers to run errands, spend time with friends, or give them time to take care of their own personal needs.