Aubrie Jean is our little(big) mermaid. She was not born with the "tail", but on September 12, 1999, at 13 months of age, everything changed for her. She actually walked with her land legs for not even 24 hours and then no more. She was the victim of Shaken Baby Syndrome, a violent and unpredictable form of child abuse. She will be 19 years old on August 7th of this year! She has multiple severe physical and mental disabilities and is cognitively about a toddler with no language skills, but has been blessed with a sunny disposition and a joy for life. Many other survivors must endure daily treatments for anything from simply breathing, to painful joint dysplasia caused by being non-ambulatory and high/low muscle tone. Thus far, she has not had to endure the worst of these things, but the future is ever unsure. She has started down the path of pain management for severe hip dysplasia due to a lifetime of being in a wheelchair and has had bone fusing surgeries, due to the spastic quadriplegia and Cerbal Palsy that she suffered from the severe brain trauma.
We are ALL capable of loosing it with a child, even if just verbally, and just by knowing that we are, we are less likely to give in to stressors. Babies cry, and they cry loud and for marathons sometimes. It's is natural to feel like you just can't listen to it anymore. Knowledge is a big key with this type of child abuse! When a baby or a child of any age starts to push you to the edge, step back... leave them somewhere safe and plug your ears ... catch your breath. Take a moment to reset. If Aubrie's licensed day care provider had done that, she would not have picked Brie up and shaken her so violently that she came within minutes of dying. Instead, Brie will have a lifetime of lost physical and mental functions that most of us take for granted, including myself, but she WILL live, thank God. The horrifying part of this is how incredibly lucky she is to be with us. A heartbreaking number of babies and toddlers are killed each year in exactly the same way, a couple that we personally wish that Brie had been able to know. Some succumb to complications from their injuries years later in their lives, such as a sunny young man that Brie was able to have a playdate with in the park not long ago.
I was enraged and unforgiving for a short while, but then realized that we are so lucky to hear her laugh and enjoy her life, a gift so many parents are not given for this or other reasons. She has the best heart on the planet and is surely one of God's angels here on earth. Aubrie is strong, true and an open book. Even though she is non-verbal, I know how she feels on a moment to moment basis better than probably anyone else in my life. She shares her experience of this life willingly and asks only for kisses and glances and kindness in return. We should all be so real! You'll know what I mean if you have spent any time with her and certainly if you come to meet her at her party. She'll make you smile, for sure!! For those that have met her, you DO know what I mean.
I believe that SBS, as well as ALL forms of child abuse, can be reduced to a marked extent just by spreading knowledge and standing up for children you suspect may be being abused. Be their voice, change their lives for the better or save their lives, altogether.
PLEASE REPORT ANY INCIDENCE OF SUSPECTED CHILD ABUSE TO YOUR LOCAL AUTHORITIES. WE ALL NEED TO SPEAK FOR THOSE WHO CANNOT SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES. Follow the links on the P.C.A.T. site for information on how to do so: http://preventchildabuse.org/resources/expert-advice/
In addition, if you have never heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome, take a look at
this page to gather some knowledge on the subject. http://www.dontshake.org/learn-more
The more who are aware the better.
Thank you for taking the time to read her story, now come party with her!!