Conner D Happy, energetic nine year old

Happy, energetic nine-year old who loves playing with his older brother.

Meet Conner Drummond: He is a happy, energetic nine-year old who loves playing with his older brother, CJ, and values his independence. This young boy with a warm smile and beautiful eyes has come a long way since he was born in 2010. His mom, Katiane, tells the traumatic story of his premature delivery at 25 weeks. At birth, Conner suffered a grade 4 brain bleed leading to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, vision loss, and a seizure disorder. He stayed in the neonatal intensive care unit for 137 days. When the Drummonds were finally able to bring their baby boy home, he still had a feeding tube, heart monitor and oxygen tank. Katiane and Clinton were scared and overwhelmed when they first arrived home with Conner, but they were strong and determined to give him the best possible care.

Almost immediately, Conner began receiving early intervention program (EIP) services, funded in part by the Department of Health, coordinated by Children’s Specialized Hospital. This program provides early identification, evaluation and intervention for children up to three years of age who have a documented condition that impairs or has a high predictability of impairing normal development and/or who have measurable developmental delays. Services provided are speech, occupational, and physical therapies, nursing, social work/family training and developmental intervention (teaching). All of the services are provided in the child’s home or in a community setting where he or she is comfortable. In Conner’s case, in addition to working with a teacher for the blind, he received occupational and physical therapies.

When Conner turned three, he began outpatient physical therapy at Children’s Specialized Hospital’s Plum Street location with Lauren Castagna. “Conner has an incredible strength and willingness to achieve anything he wants,” says Lauren. “With the support of his family and dedication to his therapies, he has made great strides in his physical abilities. He also has the best sense of humor and contagious laugh, making every session with him a joy!”

Katiane appreciated always being involved in every aspect of planning Conner’s care, “All of Conner’s therapists, doctors and nurses always make sure I am included in every plan to benefit Conner’s development and meet his needs and, equally important, they taught me strategies to advocate on Conner’s behalf.”

In fact, this past summer the Drummonds travelled to Washington, DC to take part in Speak Now for Kids Family Advocacy Day and urge Members of Congress to improve healthcare for children with complex medical conditions by safeguarding Medicaid. “Though our story is not unique in that our child is different abled, Conner’s life shows the broad spectrum of difficulties that families face,” says Katiane. “Every child is different and each has a unique story, but too often children require extensive medical intervention that leaves many families like ours in financial distress. Our goal is to continue to work towards the accessibility of quality medical services for all children.”

Katiane also joined the Family Advisory Council at Children’s Specialized Hospital. The council is a group of families and staff working together to promote the hospital’s mission of family-centered care. The Family-Centered Care team provides the focus and unique family perspective required to build awareness, educate, engage, and fully integrate Patient- and Family-Centered Care principled into the healthcare policies, practices and services across the hospital. “I am so proud of al that Conner has accomplished and grateful to everyone at Children’s Specialized who has invested their time in him,” said Katiane. “I joined the council hoping that by sharing our story and experiences, we can make a positive impact for other families in similar circumstances.”

Conner is in school now and he continues outpatient therapies in Mountainside. Always seeking more independence, Conner has learned to crawl and loves the freedom that affords him. His feeding tube was removed when he turned five and with the help of occupational therapy he learned to spoon feed himself. All amazing milestones that he’s crushing! With the help of his therapists and the love and support of his family, Conner is making progress every day. And we can’t forget to mention that he loves to dance, dance, dance!