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Profiles in CHARGE

Profiles in CHARGe


A Safe Place to Sleep

15-year-old Danno Sikora has difficulty sleeping and tends to wander at night. He often engages in dangerous self-injurious behaviors while seeking sensory input. Does this sound familiar? It is a situation that many of our families face and it’s a struggle to find solutions. His mother, Melissa, had met with frustration trying to get an enclosed bed with soft sides covered by Danno’s insurance. After a long and fruitless battle, a friend of the family decided to try a Facebook fundraiser. They raised over $5,000 in 24 hours!  Most of the donations came from people within their own community. Melissa’s entire family was touched that the community came together in such a loving way for Danno. All it took was someone with an idea and the courage to ask.

Lacey Suter, age 21, not only graduated last June from Crotched Mountain school in Greenfield, New Hampshire, she won the 2019 Principal’s Award!  This is the highest award at her school. Lacey was recognized for her amazing perseverance in striving to better herself physically and socially.  When presenting the award, her principal said, “Over the past few years Lacey has made a great deal of progress using her strength and balance to walk with less assistance. She can now utilize her walker to walk to a variety of places within the school and community.

In addition, she has increased her ability to use her communication device to express her wants and needs, to socialize and to make connections with others. When meeting new people at Opportunity Networks, Lacey independently activated her device to introduce herself. We are so proud of all that she has accomplished here at Crotched Mountain.” Her mother, Laurie Suter, was bursting with pride!!!  She said that Lacey had never won anything before which meant the world to her.  Another person with CHARGE demonstrating their amazing ability to overcome obstacles! 

23-year-old Dylan has found a non-conventional communication system that works for him. It allows him to not only learn new concepts but to access higher-level cognition such as past, present, and future. By having his hand rest on mom’s, they draw very basic drawings. Kim Lauger is no artist, but in drawing with her, Dylan seems to gain so much more understanding and definitely has more control than he does with static picture symbols. Paper and markers can come out at any time they want to “have a chat”.

Tactile Drawing in Action:

An example (before Social Distancing) is Dylan seemed to be at the stage where he might enjoy clown humor. With a one-ring family circus coming to town, we thought he might be able to get close enough to actually see. We got tickets for the shorter morning show, drew circus stories to prepare, and headed out. But when we got there early we found we couldn’t go in and get settled into seats before the crowd arrived. Instead, the clown, Nino, was encouraging a crowd to gather before opening the tent. Dylan wanted none of it! He pulled away, growled, and otherwise indicated no thanks. Nino saw Dylan and tried to say hi, but Dylan was intent on leaving. We followed Dylan’s cue and walked down the block a little and found a place we could sit down away from the commotion. As soon as I pulled the paper and markers out, Dylan’s body relaxed and he placed his hand on mine, ready to “talk”.Together we drew a very basic circus tent with a circle in the middle to represent the ring on three different pages. On one page we put horses going around inside the ring with people standing on their backs, the next a trapeze bar with a person hanging upside down, and the third with a clown. Finishing the story, we walked back towards the crowd, standing at the back, thinking maybe we’d wait until everyone went in, and perhaps we would still find a spot where he could see. But no, Nino announced that anyone who needed extra help could come in first – Dylan pushed his way through the crowd and led us right up to Nino and on into the tent to a seat in the very front row. He watched the circus, that luckily happened to have just the acts I’d drawn, laughing and smiling so much, that Nino even asked if he wanted to come into the ring to help him. Dylan’s body pulled back indicating NO. (We drew Dylan watching from outside the ring, he was definitely not ready for going in.) At the end of the show, we left amongst the crowd, with Dylan stopping to shake hands and take a selfie with Nino. Through these spontaneous moments of drawing, we can then co-draw symbols for inclusion in his communication book, building his vocabulary based on his experiences. And the more we draw together, the more his overall communication and language skills continue to grow, with ASL continuing to emerge at Dylan’s pace.

The Take-Away: Find the communication system that works best for your child!


Bon Appetit, Josephine!

Josephine has been in feeding therapy for several years. It was always 1 step forward, 2 steps back. She never told us if she was hungry. She would put things in her mouth, but spit them out. Even when she got to the point when she would swallow, it was never self-initiated. Recently she decided that it’s a good time to start eating. She started asking us to eat multiple times a day and now sits with us for every meal and eats yogurt with us! It’s a milestone that I was unsure she would ever achieve and she did it all by herself. What a proud moment for our girl!



AprilHelp us give outstanding caregiver April Bieri a pat on the back!

April was first introduced to the CHARGE community through working with Jacob Hartshorne, a job she’s done for over ten years in addition to being a special education teacher. Spending so much time with Jacob throughout the years, April is an honorary member of the Hartshorne family. She’s attended multiple CHARGE conferences with Jacob, extending her support to numerous other families by donating her time off to help other individuals with CHARGE enjoy the conferences.

Thank you, April for being such a great supporter and an inspiration to us all!




Aman is 18. He was born in Victoria, British Columbia (Canada). He loves playing video games.  Mario Kart is his favorite – and he beats everyone at it! His favorite character is Morty in Luigi Mansion. Morty is a ghost director. Aman loves water-based activities including swimming in the lake, pool, etc. He loves spending time on the boat. He calls his lakeside home Camp Mehtawood, inspired his favorite summer camp – Easter Seals Camp Merrywood in Ontario, Canada. Aman has a great sense of humor. He loves his younger siblings – his brother Anmol and sister Rynah!



NoahNoah’s dream is to become an actor. He is passionate about writing plays and using his artistic abilities to create characters.  His mother suggested that he become involved with community theater so he auditioned and landed his very first role – as the police officer in the stage version of Junie B Jones is Not a Crook!  The cast delivered five performances. 

Given all of Noah’s experience as a YouTuber, he wasn’t nervous at all.  Check out Noah’s YouTube channel.