Native mother on parenting a toddler with particular wants throughout pandemic
MIDDLEVILLE, Mich – Before COVID-19 changed our lives, Jen Kamps already knew the requirements of being a full-time, home mom.
“We get up in the morning and you are out pretty much the whole time,” said Kamps. “It’s the best job I could ever have.”
The days are busy looking after their four children; including her youngest son, five-year-old Quentin, who has special needs.
“He had a six-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit with many complications and infections, so he ended up with cerebral palsy, a chronic lung disease,” explained Kamps. “He’s been through a lot. He has seizures, he has epilepsy because of all of this, but he’s the happiest kid you can ever see. So I like to make sure his life is good and take him out and around and do things and just enjoy every minute while he’s here because he fought really hard for it. “
With Quentin demanding a lot from their attention, Kamps admitted that it was difficult to continue homeschooling him while compensating for their other children’s distance learning at the onset of the pandemic.
Additionally, pandemic restrictions and closings have impacted the outings Quentin looked forward to, including classes at the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding.
“He loves to visit places. We come back and he usually cries when we stop in the driveway,” said Kamps. “He learns a lot from social situations, he likes being alone with people. He likes to meet new people in order to stay happy and get involved, so that was a big deal too.”
Kamps is not alone in facing these problems.
Other families with special needs children take extra precautions to ensure their safety while dealing with added stress and disruption to their usual routines.
“You are in trouble,” said Jane Eppard, one of the founders of the Family Hope Foundation. “It’s alarming. You know the anxiety, the depression, and many other things that I think are going on that are upset by that feeling of isolation.”
She continues, “Recovery is a big thing and it has not been possible for these families who need it. You can’t take a break and it’s hard. And the children can’t take a break either. “
The Family Hope Foundation was founded by Eppard and others with children with special needs; Providing resources, events, and grants to families to help cover the cost of various types of therapies.
Eppard said COVID forced the organization to cancel many of its events in 2020.
She added that the demand for scholarships has increased by about 25 percent, and many are asking for help with coping with mental health issues.
“Exhausted is a word I keep hearing when I take calls,” she told FOX 17 News. “There are so many things to find out, but little glimmers of hope.”
And there is good news: the organization is now planning to resume “sensory-friendly” screenings in collaboration with Celebration Cinema at the end of March.
There was also progress at Kamps.
This year, their older children returned to personal learning and Quentin has since been able to resume riding lessons at the Riding Center for Therapeutic Riding to continue working on his core strength and coordination.
“He was so happy to come back,” said Kamps. “He has missed a lot for COVID and when he comes back you can tell how excited he is to be back … it was really good for him.”
And while the pandemic continues, Kamps decides to maintain a positive attitude despite the unknowns.
“I think everyone has their own stress in life and I think I don’t really compare them to others. I am happy with our situation. I mean there are fights but mine are all worth it and I would not change anything in my life. I don’t love the pandemic right now so I would probably change that. But as for a child with special needs, I wouldn’t trade them for the world. “
To learn more or to donate to the Family Hope Foundation, click here.