A close-knit family with 6 children ages 13 to one year, Ryan and Camillia feel blessed every day. “I love our family, every stage, every uniqueness is a gift,” said Camillia. When their sixth child, Pierson, was born, it didn’t take long to discover he had Down syndrome and congenital heart failure. The family learned as much as they could about their son’s special needs and got connected to Rainbows’ Butler County Infant/Toddler Services right away.
Pierson had open heart surgery at 5 months old and his tonsils and adenoids removed at 11 months. The surgeries have improved his health, his severe sleep apnea and his development. He has endured many challenges in his first year of life.
Camilla says, “Pierson loves smiling, trying new foods, being read to, tickled by Daddy, sung to by Momma and cuddled by his brothers and sisters.”
Melissa Baumgartel, a talented Rainbows’ early childhood special education teacher, is the primary coach that visits Pierson and his family every 2 weeks. “Melissa has been an incredible support,” said Camilla. “She is ready, always, with an encouraging word as she sees Pierson either in person or by a picture I sent to her portraying his latest adventure. I am thankful for her wisdom as she helps us become even better stewards of "Our Little Braveheart".”
Speech Language Pathologist, Kim Stewart also makes occasional visits to give her professional insight on ways Pierson can try new foods and ensures he gets the nutrition that he needs.
Currently the collaborative team of his family and his therapists are working on helping Pierson sit up and crawl. With so many loving siblings Pierson has plenty of encouragers and arms to hold him close. Camilla shares that one day each child was saying what they were thankful for and his 13 year-old sister said, “I’m thankful that Pierson is part of our family.”
“Pierson has a really special family,” said Melissa. “They want the best for him and they enjoy who he is becoming as he grows and they help him learn. What a joy to work with them.”
“We’re on a wonderful journey of absolute joy,” says Camillia. “We were not planning this journey, but we do know who is.” The family has a strong faith and lives by Proverbs 16:9 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. ESV.