I was touched and impressed with the great work of the Brighton Center team when I was introduced to the organization in 2012 during my time as a United Way loan executive. I had no idea how important this introduction would be for my family a few years later.
My husband and I were blessed with our son, William “Townsend” Bowman, in July 2014. We were fortunate to enjoy a healthy pregnancy and every moment of his typical infancy but began to have concerns about Townsend’s development at 6 months. The diagnosis process took 8 months and was extremely emotional and challenging to navigate. Townsend was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder, Hypotonia and Global Developmental Delay at 14 months. We partner with his Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, Applied Behavioral Analysis Therapist, Developmental Pediatrician, Geneticist, Neurologist, Psychologist and Doctor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation to understand his development and our ability to sustain Townsend’s medical needs.
When we looked up from our focus on his medical needs and team, the need for social, emotional and educational support for our whole family were in front of us. Although we were aware Brighton provided services for our situation, we didn’t immediately reach out to them because we didn’t think of our family as in need of charity. We researched and searched extensively for the best day care environment for Townsend; one that had the ability to support his special needs, provide neurotypical peers as models, and teaches the importance of acceptance and support.
We found exactly what we were looking for at Brighton Center. The early childhood education centers bring typical and disabled/delayed children together in an environment that focuses on enabling every child to feel included and reach their full potential. During his first week at Brighton at pickup, I had the opportunity to witness Townsend’s classmates playing WITH him instead of around him, for the first time ever (at 2+ years old). It was, and continues to be, extremely moving.
This Spring we took Brighton’s special education 101 class in preparation for the enrollment process in special education with the public school system for which Townsend qualifies when he turns 3. Being prepared and having Brighton’s support through the process allowed us to approach and navigate the special education assessment and registration with confidence.
A common response to hearing about our situation is sympathy because it “must be really hard”. We absolutely have difficult and dark moments, fears about how the world will perceive and treat Townsend, and frustratingly, unanswerable questions. With the support of Team Townsend, including the Brighton Center, we have been able to recalibrate our expectations, and lifestyle and focus on the positives. The blessings that Townsend and his specially abled status have brought our family enormously outweigh the challenges.
We are blessed to have the most amazing people on Team Townsend and to witness them work wonders with and through him. We are blessed to start most days with quality family time at therapy and medical appointments. We are blessed to recognize and celebrate inch-stones as well as milestones. We are blessed to see Townsend draw out the best in everyone with whom he interacts. We are blessed to be stretched and pushed to be better parents, spouses, and people. We are blessed to grow more deeply in love with each other and Townsend through this transformation. We are blessed to find the extraordinary in the mundane through his eyes. We are blessed to understand and be reminded daily of what truly matters. We are blessed to bask in Townsend’s light. We are blessed to be able to support and learn from Townsend.
I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason. One of my favorite quotes is “Motherhood is about raising and celebrating the child you have, not the child you thought you would have. It’s about understanding that he is exactly the person he is supposed to be. And that, if you’re lucky, he just might be the teacher who turns you into the person you are supposed to be.” by Joan Ryan. Townsend is the best teacher I will ever have.