This is my 18 year old son, John Michael Wiggs, who has Rubinstein-Taybi Syndrome. He is non-verbal, incapable of sign language due to hand structure and mobility, and not totally potty trained. He tests at a mental age of about 2 years-old though I believe his mental capacity exceeds that. I feel it is impossible to get a fair assessment of his mental capacity when John Michael has essentially no practical means of communication. We are blessed that he has no real health problems, and definitely nothing that could be life threatening.

John Michael now resides in a living/training facility in Valdosta, Georgia. His care became more than I, as a single parent, could manage. That move was the best thing that I could have done for my son. I kept him at home until 11/2000. I think he must have hit puberty because of all the changes that started happening in his behavior and his mannerisms. John Michael has always been a very, very lovable child. I call him my "huggie, kissie baby". But after his 16th birthday he began objecting to me caring for his daily needs. He would do anything my dad told him to, most of the time. And he would cooperate with my dad for going to the potty, getting his bath, changing his diaper, all of the basic care he needed. But he refused to cooperate with me. So finding a suitable facility for John Michael became a necessity. Placing John Michael in a living/training facility was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make in my entire life. I still have bouts with guilt, and I cry alot and really miss him, but when I see how well he is doing I know I made the right decision for John Michael.

At the time of his placement, he was 4'11" and weighed 150 lbs. He is now 5'5" and weighs 115 lbs. He can feed himself and can open the small carton of milk and pour it in his glass. He can also now drink out of a normal glass, without the sippee top. He plays baseball with the Challenger Little League. They also offer soccer, a modified version of course. His favorite sport, though, is basketball. He has to shoot "granny style" but he nails the basket sometimes. The sports programs are directed through the Valdosta YMCA. John Michael and some of his buddies had the opportunity to star in a television commercial promoting the Challenger Program. He goes to school daily in the Valdosta Public School System. The facility has activities planned all the time. There is a medical doctor that visits there once a month, and inbetween if illness requires it. A psychiatrist is also there once a week working with whoever needs his services. Then there is the nursing staff, the therapists, the personal care takers, the activity coordinators, the dietary staff, and so many more that I can't even begin to list. He absolutely loves the people there. I am so thankful for Parkwood Developmental Center and all the workers who love and care for my son.

Cheryl Roberts
840 Rudgate Road
Columbus, GA 31904

cherylyn63@netzero.net

 

John Michael and his sister Michelle.

Cheryl has poems which appear in the family poem section.

Heavens Special Treasure

Trials of a Treasure

Iím Special Too