- Posted March 2, 2015 by
Vero Beach, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
Limb-it-less Possibilities Found at UCF
Entranced in a deep sleep, I felt my pre-teen son press his nose into my cheek. It was 4:30 a.m. His words melted my heart. “Mom,” he whispered, “Today is going to be AMAZING!”
It was our second visit to the University Of Central Florida (UCF). We had an appointment to meet with a team of students who, in their spare time, create 3-D printed limbs for children.
In the previous months we had become connected with the team, called Limbitless Solutions, through the Enable network. Our son, Wyatt, learned of the team through a friend’s suggestion.
In truth, I felt Wyatt didn’t need it. He had learned to adapt. We had tried prosthetics when he was younger. He had abandoned the false limbs within months. His main interest was to create a shocking response from on lookers – by pulling it off in the grocery store.
In truth, we had traveled a long and arduous journey out of Autism. Wyatt had been non-verbal and non-compliant until he was almost 7. As we put Autism Spectrums in the rear-view mirror, our efforts were consumed with jam-packed therapy sessions. In time, we reached therapy burn out, and our spare time turned to indulging his afterschool interests: theatre and science.
The anticipated visit was full of what Wyatt loved: science, media interviews, and the chance to be around college students. And yes – he was excited about the promise of a new limb. His wishes were simple: hold his hand, clap with two hands, drive a car, do a summersault, dance with beautiful girls, and ride a bike.
For me, it was a mix of emotions, and anxiety. On one-hand I felt like I learned long ago that I did not need to “fix” my son. Through the process of several events – I learned to accept my son’s limb difference. I found that attitudes were the real disabilities. I had worked hard to arm my child with the fearless faith that he could do anything.
On the other-hand, I also loved that Wyatt was leading the change. He was the one who convinced my husband and me that he needed to get a bionic limb.
That morning our friend, Trudie, drove us to UCF. Wyatt has changing radio channels and talking rapidly. His exuberance could have powered the SUV to Orlando and beyond!
Wyatt’s excitement revolved around seeing his new best friends, Albert and Tyler, and meeting young Alex Pring. Alex was the first child the team fitted with a 3-D printed limb. And yes, he was excited to see what it would be like to have two hands.
We arrived just in time for TV interviews. In that instant, I had to remind myself that Wyatt was once withdrawn, non-verbal and afraid of everything. There he was talking to TV reporters, interacting with college students and showing off the temporary limb.
At one point, a reporter asked me, “What is it like to see Wyatt with his new limb?” I confess it was not an emotional moment. This really surprised me. The truth - I loved seeing my social son thrive!
Yes, I am grateful for the gift of a limb. However, what made me appreciative was the glowing acceptance of others. Wyatt was being celebrated. The adoration of college students was an affirmation that money can’t buy. He was wrapped in the joy of leading and advising students on how to help children like himself.
Wyatt felt like he was making a difference for himself and other children. His sincere empathy and compassion was conveyed through his conversations and actions with the team.
As we prepared to leave, Wyatt said it best, “Mom, I can’t wait to see what I will accomplish with my new arm!” He continued, “I want to be just like Albert and Tyler! I want to go to UCF and help other kids just like me!”
We are excited about the gift of a limb – and the limb-it-less possibilities it will bring to Wyatt and others.