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Meet the Parents

Brian and Vanessa Gibson

Brian and Vanessa Gibson

Parents
Brian and Vanessa Gibson

Profession:
Import Business and Teacher

Age of parents:
37 and 32

Child’s name:
Michael

Age: 5 Years

Is this your only child?
No, older brother and sister.

Diagnosis of child:
Down Syndrome

What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
Feeding Michael has been our biggest hurdle over the last year. A year ago he was living 100% on formula and wanting nothing to do with food. He is a very picky eater and we have to introduce new textures slowly. He has a serious gag reflex.

What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis
It took years - so much patience and so much time, but his health is better than ever and we are seeing his personality come through and I am loving it. He’s constantly getting into things, and it honestly makes me so happy to see him doing all the silly things that the big kids did when they were younger.

Are you married?
Married.

Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
Quarantine dating happens in the car, I had an errand to run for Noahs birthday this weekend - and we jumped at the chance to be able to have a kid free “mini date” aka time alone in the car without kids, we’ve all gotta get creative these days to have actual dates. We have only been one other place together without kids since February-talk about overdue! Are you still going on dates with your spouse? Getting a sitter or doing dates at home? I know it’s easy to get pushed to the back burner, but I swear just that hour away was exactly what we both needed- to breathe, talk uninterrupted, or just sit in silence.

Are your family and friends supportive?
Your family and friends will likely say the wrong things - remember they are just wanting to support you - the best thing you can do is be honest and say what you do/don’t need/want to hear.

I used to worry a lot about how Maddie and Noah’s (older brother and sister to Michael) life would be impacted because of Michael - and I see it now that they will be better, kinder, and a whole lot more compassionate because of him. Which in today’s world- makes me pretty dang proud to be raising kids that are kind.

What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
We have good and bad days and Michael has his struggles but I am so grateful that his victories far outweigh his challenges and challenges are easily overcome. It may take time but we are in no rush. Mike is running his race well. Down syndrome is just a name...it doesn’t define or determine who he will be! And so I ask you to look at my son, to remember his name because I am telling you he is going to change the world!

What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
I recently decided to take a break from his therapies. I know that I got a lot of “what if he regresses” questions in my inbox when we decided this, the truth is WHO is he trying to keep up with? The kids his age- that isn’t even a fair comparison. Kids with disabilities are on their own timeline- Michael is turtle speed and that is OKAY.  We as caregivers- cannot be ON at all times. And especially Michael can’t. There comes a time when it is ok to take a step back, reevaluate and let us all just breathe for a second.

What is your dream for your child?
Thank you to every single person who celebrates our Michael, who cheers him on in his race.

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