Close

CaringBridge Is Funded by People Like You

Make a donation to CaringBridge

Honor Brendon with a tax-deductible contribution to CaringBridge today.

Click here to make your donation.

Brendon’s Story

This is Brendon. Before Brendon was born he suffered a STROKE. It is important for us to share his story so we can raise awareness that CHILDREN can suffer a STROKE. Please share Brendon's story to help in our mission.  Brendon's Smile...Raising Awareness for Childhood Stroke Foundation was created to raise awareness and educate EVERYONE about stroke in children.  For more information visit www.BrendonsSmile.org.



Brendon was born a SURVIVOR and we are so blessed to have him in our lives.

At 19 months of age Brendon was diagnosed as having suffered a stroke while in utero. As a result of the stroke he has been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Right Hemiparesis, Muscular Scoliosis, Speech Apraxia and Aphasia. Brendon currently wears braces on both feet and a splint on his right hand. Brendon is two years old and is only able to say a few words. He struggles with his inablility to vocalize and gets very frustrated with himself. He tries with everything he has to tell the people he loves what he is thinking. Brendon has a gorgeous smile and spirit that you can see by looking into his eyes. Through all of his frustration he manages to keep on smiling. Ask any one who knows him...he lights up a room. His spirit keeps us going!

It's important for every parent to know that doctors may not recognize the symptoms of stroke in children. Brendon should have been diagnosed much earlier than when he was. As a new mother I was told I was overly "paranoid." Due to lack of a diagnosis by several doctors and specialists Brendon was deinied the treatment he so much deserves.

You are invited to share Brendon's journey with us.

It is my goal to share with you every step of Brendon's journey so you understand what it is like to advocate for a child you love and to raise awareness. I don't want another child to be denied what is their's!

Please e-mail us at BrendonsSmile@yahoo.com for any suggestions you may have on helping us spread the word.

Thank you!

Jessica & Stephen Spear

Latest Journal Update

Our Speech Hurdles and Ideas for Communication

Brendon's speech has been obviously difficult for him throughout his entire life. This speech deficit because of the perinatal stroke he endured before he was born. Brendon doesn't let this hinder him from speaking - he has a wonderful self-esteem. My husband and I have made a conscious effort to build his up in him - we talked about this long before he was born and before we knew that he had had a stroke.

What I find difficult is the way Brendon forgets to stop to listen to people when conversing. Also, people, who don't know him, try to hurry him along, speak over him or, simply, ignore him. These may actually feed into each other.

I share this because I have some ideas I want to share on how we tackle the communication "bumps" that are presented to us on a daily basis.

My actions as a mom:

1. Learn.  Take the time to learn from the experts you chose to work with you child.  I have been to many therapy sessions, learned the "tools" or techniques Brendon has been taught and how to implement them. 

2. Practice. Use the "tools" or techniques when communicating with anyone and everyone.  Really talk to Brendon every day. (Sounds pretty simple, right!? It is! We all talk to each other, either by spoken, written or signed language.) Always remind myself to slow down and use the techniques when speaking to him (honestly, it helps with speaking to anyone!).  Model this behavior for him, either while talking to him or with other people in front of him.

3. Empower.  Brendon has chosen the "tools" he wants to use. He has many in his mind on ways he chooses to slow himself down (he has been developing these since he began speech therapy before he was 2 years old). When he isn't intent on a topic, I ask him to teach me or "remind" me what his chosen communication "tools" are and model them for me - this to prevent from blatantly pointing out that he isn't using them.  He is proud of what he has learned and to teach others (aren't you, when you learn something others don't necessarily know and you can teach them?). 

(I have learned so much from him and because of him.  It has made me more conscious of how I communicate.  I am grateful.)

4.  Practice Patience.  Easier said than done.  But it DOES get easier.  Our children learn from us and we learn from them.  Practice this.  Don't forget you are human and it is okay to pause for a bit, take a timeout for yourself (I am still learning to do this) so you can start back up refreshed. 

5. Read together! I love reading to my children. When I read I utilize the punctuation (commas, periods, question marks...). I have him (and my daughter) sit next to me and use my finger, as a visible tool, to point to each work and pause at the punctuation. With this he is getting both audio and visual cues. Plus we have created a TREMENDOUS  bond over reading together!
  
(Both of my children love to read and being read to by those who will take the time to read with them!)

I highly recommend books by Sandra Boynton and books like these.  

Here is a link for you to check them out: http://www.sandraboynton.com/sboynton/Introduction.html

I hope this helps! :)