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Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's off to Camp I go! Wyatt's Story

Updated: Jun 15, 2021

Everyone, meet Wyatt, a new member of our Empower Me Family!

In so many ways Wyatt is your typical, energetic 6 year old, but Wyatt is unique in that he faces the daily challenges associated with Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS). This very rare and complex developmental disorder is caused when a portion of chromosome 17 is missing and it affects multiple organ systems of the body. The incidence is estimated to be 1 in 15,000-25,000 people in the US and symptoms vary between individuals.

Wyatt’s mom Jessica shares, “Wyatt had quite a number of medical issues from birth to about 9 months old. He was born with a heart murmur and scoliosis was detected when he was three months old-which is very rare. He wasn’t thriving like a typical child his age. We saw developmental delays very early on, for example, he struggled with eating and drinking. After working with a number of specialists, we began genetic testing which resulted in his diagnosis. It was very overwhelming for us, especially being first time parents. Because of the rarity of the syndrome, we sought out parent networks and conferences throughout the US to learn as much as we could. We wanted to do everything we could to help Wyatt meet his full potential."

Jessica continues, “Wyatt has been in therapy since he was 3 months old. He is six now and he is mostly nonverbal. He struggles with behavioral issues. He has frequent outbursts and can be easily upset. He relies on routine and order. He is easily excitable and at times exhibits self-destructive behavior and aggression. He also has an inverted circadian rhythm, which means his production of melatonin is the reverse of the norm. His body tells him to sleep during the day and play at night, so we have to work really hard on reversing those effects.”

“My husband and I both work, so childcare has always been always an issue. We’ve struggled for years to find a place where Wyatt could fit in and we could feel comfortable leaving him. Most daycares are not equipped to handle a child with special needs. When we heard about Empower Me, we were elated! We could tell from just the first couple of days of camp that it was somewhere he was going to love! My mind was at ease and I no longer worried about him. I could tell they were truly invested in my child. Their level of experience became evident very early on. We spent time talking with Michelle, who was very familiar with Smith-Magenis, and she gave us advice that we had not heard in six years.”

“With Wyatt, when he is in a group where he feels like he fits in and feels accepted and loved for who he is, his behavior improves. We did not see a lot of negative behavior when he was at camp. He was super excited to get up and go each morning. He received his special certificate for the Newcomer Award while he was there. He keeps it on his dresser beside his bed and points to it and gestures and smiles all of the time. It is a real source of accomplishment for Wyatt. Empower Me helped Wyatt be proud of who he is, just like he is. I feel like he made lots of friends. We look at the videos and pictures on their Facebook page and his face lights up. I can tell he recognizes his friends, the staff and he feels true joy.”

“It’s so important for us to be a part of the Empower Me family. We know it’s a place where they will grow to know and understand Wyatt more with each encounter. We could not have asked for a better experience for Wyatt!”
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