Life as I knew it ended the day my son, Ty, was born. He was 6 weeks premature and was born with Down syndrome as well as a birth defect in his nose that did not allow him to breathe. Six months later, my daughter Madison, then 9 years old, was diagnosed with Dyslexia, a hidden, often disregarded phonetic processing disorder that makes it difficult for kids to learn to read.
I quickly became and advocate for my kids, researching as much as I could about the struggles they faced, getting them the help they needed. We knew Ty would be delayed in speech so we began to learn sign language and he excelled quickly. I couldn’t imagine our lives without it. Madi and her sister, Emma, loved learning to sign with Ty and learned new words every day. Being a visual language, sign language is a viable foreign language option for Madi given her issues with Dyslexia. It’s easier for her to learn because she can watch it rather than read it.
I knew we couldn’t be the only family in this situation. I began teaching basic sign language to anyone who wanted to learn and it exploded. Shortly after Ty was born I wrote him a series of stories. Stories of him growing up and experiencing life like any other little boy and the In the Backyard series was born. It is an alphabet based series and incorporates sign language and Dyslexia awareness.
And then, only 3 ½ years after Ty was born, life as I knew it once again ended. Ty passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly. And although I continue to try to rebuild a new life, day by day, I know now that it is no longer my responsibility to raise Ty, but to continue the message he was here on Earth to deliver.
So I began to tell people our story. A story not only of perseverance and never giving up, but also of diversity and accepting those differences in ourselves and others. Spreading the message of finding out what it is that makes you YOU and using it to change the world.
In these three areas: sign language, the book series and the telling of our story, Emmadity was formed. Each area utilizes and supports the other and helps me with my newly found mission in life. A mission that not only aids in the function of our family’s day to day life, but helps others to do the same. Because our motto has become: “It’s okay to be different. You don’t have to be perfect. Just be you.”
I invite you to come join us!