Multicultural News

Boy diagnosed with down syndrome thrives despite pandemic setbacks

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Making progress during the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t been so easy, particularly for people who have disabilities.

But, one Martinsville boy born with down syndrome is showing is showing it can be done.

When we’ve talked about figuring out how to get through this pandemic, a lot of families who have children with disabilities have felt left out of the conversation. But just like so many of us, those families managed to pull through with specialized support, and for one Indiana boy that means improved mobility and language.

This time last year, Fenton Siebert would have had trouble moving around. Doctors diagnosed him with down syndrome, a genetic, chromosomal disorder. So those early milestones like sitting up, crawling walking and talking took a while to reach. His mother, Erin, said he’s finally meeting them all at 5 years old.

“Having him walk independently has been huge, not just for our family but for Fenton as well,” Siebert said. “When Fenton starting walking his opportunities for learning exploded.”

That progress almost stalled right as he was getting going. The physical therapy he’d been getting at Easterseals Crossroads moved virtual, and, for people who thrive with in-person support, the fear grew quickly.

“I wasn’t sure what was going to happen because at that time, Fenton was just 4 and that’s a huge developmental critical point for him,” Siebert said.

It was a learning curve for Fenton and everyone. Providing virtual physical therapy and speech support wasn’t part of the plan, and navigating how to do it took some trial and error to get it right.

Easterseals Crossroads pediatric physical therapist Deanna Proimos said, “It was hard. I have figured out my job, and I can be fun in person. I can play and do things but now I’m stuck behind a screen and I’m just sitting there and you’re on the other side and I’m not quite as fun.”

Support for a typical kid comes in a variety of forms, but meeting the needs Fenton and others require a little extra attention. Although these stories may fly under the radar, they, too, are worth celebrating.

For a kid being able to explore their environment however that may be for them it just opens up a whole new world, Proimos said.

Easterseals Crossroads is holding its end-of-the-year fundraiser to continue to support families, and a donor has come forward to match donations.