My cousin Kelli has two children. Their names are Harter and Hayden and they are 11 and 9, respectively. Kelli’s friend, Heather, has a son that is also friends with Harter and Hayden. His name is Henry Thomas. Henry Thomas is 12 years old and suffers from several physical challenges. More specifically, HT (Henry Thomas’ nickname) suffers from CHARGE syndrome. Simply put, people with CHARGE syndrome have an ailment related to each letter of the acronym. More information on CHARGE syndrome can be found at http://www.chargesyndrome.org/.
I had met Henry Thomas a few times before, but this past Sunday after church I went to my cousins to meet up with Henry Thomas. HT is as resilient as they come. He is visibly impaired. He walks a bit crooked, has very thick glasses, is mostly non-verbal and wears a cochlear implant. Despite all of these imperfections, he is witty and fun and bubbly. He loves to be around people. He wants to know everyone’s life story and will never forget it. I spent most of the afternoon playing with legos, watching cartoons, and eating snacks.
In addition to dealing with CHARGE syndrome, HT was born with only one kidney. At the age of six, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in his only kidney. Sixty percent of his functioning kidney had to be removed. Since Kindergarten, HT has attended a school for the deaf. At age 5, he had a cochlear implant surgically placed. Since then, he has been in speech therapy to recognize speech. He is fluent in American Sign Language and is a proficient lip reader. Mentally speaking, HT is very sharp. He is a bit behind his peers because of the communication barrier, but has caught up over time as he learns how to communicate with those that cannot communicate with him.
HT is on a very strict diet. His diet is consists of only organic foods and he must have no wheat, dairy or...