Tri-State parent leads Down syndrome support group
One out of every 10 children under the age of 14 has some type of special need.
And for every one of those children, there's a parent going the extra mile.
"You're definitely a parent for life when you have a child with special needs," said Lisa Neisen.
It's this reality Lisa came face to face with when her son Brady was born.
"We had no idea that he was born with Down syndrome."
Left with more questions than answers and limited resources, Lisa turned to her community.
She started a Down syndrome support group that she still leads today.
"It's really been a huge help for us to talk to other parents that are dealing with similar issues."
Issues that most parents won't ever face.
"When Brady was little he had seven therapy sessions a week. We had speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy."
"As they get older you do have to prepare yourself for when they go to school and be an advocate for them. You really have to be an advocate for your child more so than a typical child," said parent Reta Richmond.
Even something as simple as driving often isn't a reality for their children.
"Brady isn't driving. Everyone else turned 16 and he wasn't able to do that," said Neisen.
After 19 years, Lisa's support group is still going strong.
"It's great to watch the children grow up in the support group and having the same experiences or if some parent has already experienced what you're going through they can give you advice."
And while they may touch on limitations, these parents come together with one goal, wanting what's best for their child.
"He's just like any other 13-year-old boy. I try to treat him just like my other children, my goal for him is to graduate high school with his class and go to community college," said Richmond.
"I wouldn't change it for the world. God has blessed us with a wonderful child and I wouldn't change anything in the world," said Neisen.
The support group meets every last Monday of the month in the 11th Street Auditorium at Blessing Hospital, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Contact Lisa Neisen at Blessing Hospital at (217) 223-8400, ext. 4190, or (217) 885-3159.