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Say Hi to Halli

“It gives me peace of mind for her to attend the Institute. Everyone here has her development in mind.” --Amie Austin, Halli's mom

Amie Austin lovingly reels off a list of traits that describe her daughter, Halli.

“Affectionate. Stubborn. Sweet. So smart. Motivated. Headstrong. And she is such a cuddle bunny,” said Amie. 

Those traits–not that Halli was born with Down syndrome–are what her family and friends focus on each day.

Halli’s most recent developmental leap is learning to say no. “Last week, Halli learned to say no, and she most definitely used the word in the appropriate context,” Amie said. For this mother of a child with Down syndrome, it’s just another sweet memory of her blossoming fifteen month old who reveals a new layer to her developing personality each day.

Amie found out 18 weeks into her pregnancy that her daughter had Down syndrome. She vividly remembers taking her son Wil, now 12, to the park and telling him his little sister would have special needs. “Our family didn’t know anyone with Down syndrome, so Wil and I immediately started visiting the Resource Library at Siskin Children’s Institute and reading up.” Wil has been an involved big brother ever since.

“Before Halli was born, Wil wanted to go to my specialist appointments with me, to see Halli through thehigh-def sonograms. At her birth, he  gave her a new baby blanket, her “lovey,” which he picked out himself. Her lovey stayed with her in the neonatal intensive care unit and has been with her through all her numerous medical procedures.” As a tween, Wil has all the hallmarks of a born advocate. Amie says that Wil teaches his friends about Down syndrome. “And none of his peers are allowed to use the ‘r word’ in his presence,” Amie relates with a smile. “Wil is definitely smitten with his sister and is a strong contributor to her development. I know he will always want to be there for her,” she says, a fact that allays some of her fears about Halli’s long range future.  

Other than the obligatory worry that comes with being a mom, Amie is confident of Halli’s immediate future, however. Halli attends the Early Learning Center-Downtown at Siskin Children’s Institute, and she is reaching many of her developmental milestones. “Halli is communicating better every day through signing and body language. Her mobility is great,” Amie said. Although Amie still worries about Halli’s feeding and swallowing issues, often a challenge for children with Down syndrome, she’s not alone in her quest to help Halli improve. “The staff at the Institute is working with Halli and with me on that one,” Amie says. “Halli tends to love most foods,” and adds with her characteristic grin, “but if she doesn’t like the taste or texture, you’re going to wear it.” She continues, “I’ve had to be patient. As my knowledge about feeding has grown with the help of her therapist and teachers, I’ve calmed down some.”

With a loving family and the support of Siskin Children’s Institute, Halli is building a strong foundation for success in school and life. “It gives me peace of mind for her to attend the Institute,” Amie said.“Everyone here has her development in mind.”