Why PHRED’S PLLACE?
Phred was our yellow Labrador Retreiver. She was a beloved family member, and in a way, our first baby. We drove from northern Virginia to western New York in order to pick her up from the breeder, sight unseen, at the age of 8 weeks old.
And oh, by the way, Phred was a FEMALE dog. The name was a compromise between a husband who wanted a female dog and a wife who wanted a dog named Fred. Oddly enough, her kennel was named Fieldstone Kennels. So yes, we had a dog named Phred Fieldstone.
Phred was an amazing animal. I say this not because she was our dog, but because she was amazing. Being a Lab, she took to the water like flies take to honey. Phred understood about 20 spoken words and hand signals. She was able to convert the fear two small children had of dogs (they had both been bitten at a young age) into unconditional love.
Phred had a knack for touching people’s lives. Whenever I was sick, she would not leave my side, literally. She stayed in bed with me, resting her head on my neck when I was asleep. After our daughters were born, Phred let the girls do anything they wanted to her. The majority of the girls’ childhood photos are on top of, next to, or touching Phred. Phred loved everyone and wanted to be loved on. Which brings us back to PHRED’S PLLACE.
We want to touch the lives of other families like Phred touched ours. Families of children with disabilities often go without a lot of things. Their sacrifices are incredible when they are doing their best to help treat and heal their children. We know this first hand. So, why not create programs that will support the growth and development of young adults with special abilities? In conjunction with Camp Blessing Texas, the Next Step program is growing and evolving to help our young adults learn work life and social skills that prepares them for independent living.
Jessica is now 22 years old and will graduate from college in May of 2020. She is currently the assistant chef for The Mighty Waffle, a nonprofit that employs individuals with special needs. She absolutely loves her job and serving others. Since her diagnosis in 2000, we can honestly say our lives have been somewhat consumed by her Autism. When Jessica was diagnosed, there was very little information available on Autism. We constantly researched the different protocols on the internet and talked to anyone and everyone who would listen.
We have spent the equivalent of a four year college tuition on testing, treatments, therapies, supplements, etc. Our goal was to not leave any stone unturned. We know what having a child with a disability can do to your family, your emotions, and your social relationships. We realize how important baby steps are over the course of years of development. As a parent, the cost versus care battle is an emotional and stressful struggle.
Today, there is an abundance of information and treatments available. Unfortunately, it is still very overwhelming and confusing. We think back to those early years and tell ourselves, if only we knew then, what we know now. We might have done things differently and we could have saved so much time and money. As most parents know, some things work and some do not. We want to help parents by presenting our experiences with certain treatments, therapies, etc. Networking will be one of the most important aspects of Phred’s P.L.L.A.C.E.
Our ongoing hope is to use PHRED’S P.L.L.A.C.E. to provide families with support and guidance through the maze of having a child with autism. We have obtained a guardianship, applied for Federal and State services and are now working with Jessica to map out her path for future growth.
Unfortunately, as positive as all that sounds, with growth comes a great deal of internal struggle. Appearances aside, Jessica still needs a shadow to help her navigate the hazards an independent life presents all of us. We are currently facing the challenges associated with having a high functioning child that wants to continue to evolve.
Our Kids in Motion program is evolving each and every day. We are currently collaborating with Camp Blessing Texas on a transition and work program for kids with special abilities. The Next Step program is for those families like ours that have a high functioning young adult who wants to learn skills that will help them gain their independence.
We are proud of the person that Jessica has become. Our hope is that she will be able to work in a restaurant setting in our community. She loves amusement parks, restaurants, shopping, horseback riding, swimming, gymnastics, bowling, water parks, camping, staying at hotels, and playing with friends. We thank God for the people who have taken the time to get to know Jessica and who have worked so hard to get her to the point she is at right now. The sky is the limit for Jessica and we consider ourselves very blessed to have had the chance to learn and grow with her.
It has been a very long road, but Jessica is doing great and is on her way to what we hope will be a very successful and promising life.