Our hearts are broken for everyone affected by the horrible tragedy at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. This one hits very close to home as two of the victims, the Rosenthal brothers, Cecil and David had Fragile X syndrome.
“Cecil’s laugh was infectious,” said Chris Schopf, Achieva’s vice president of residential supports. He added, “David was so kind and had such a gentle spirit. Together, they looked out for one another. They were inseparable. Most of all, they were kind, good people with a strong faith and respect for everyone around.”
Over the years, Brett saw a lot of the older boys becoming Eagle Scouts and decided he wanted to get his Eagle Rank, too. Carl explained the process and Brett said, “Let’s do it”. Everything wasn’t smooth sailing and Brett encountered some obstacles. After Brett decided that he wanted to continue in scouting and get his Eagle Rank, the highest rank the Boy Scouts can achieve, we realized that there were some required merit badges that Brett would never be able to get because some of the requirements were just too difficult for him. The cool thing was that Boy Scouts offered an alternative path for special needs scouts. We worked with both our troop leaders and local council and got the Alternative Path approved.
On Sunday, July 22 at 10:00 pm, Niagara Falls was lit up teal to honor National Fragile X Awareness Day! We are extremely grateful to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for making this happen. The teal lighting created a spectacular experience for all the spectators on both sides of the falls.
FRAXA co-founders Katie Clapp and Michael Tranfaglia made the drive from Massachusetts, and our web developer, Eric Welin, trekked to the falls with his entire family. Our afternoon meet up at Goat Island included Fragile X families from Canada, Illinois, Kentucky, New York and South Africa! Several happy Fragile X self-advocates could be seen running around with their siblings, while everyone enjoyed the Fragile X family reunion. It was great to see all of the different Fragile X shirts our friends wore.
Theirs was an effort by a small group of thoughtful, committed members of the Fragile X Association of Michigan (FXAM) to be sure. The entire project took months! But it was hard work well worth the effort. After writing and revising (and revising), FXAM was awarded a $35,000 grant which the Michigan Fragile X group will now direct to Dr. Todd’s ongoing Fragile X research involving CRISPR!
In the first week of March I attended my first Fragile X Advocacy Day to meet with many of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress. While this was my first time advocating for Fragile X research, I’ve been a longtime lung cancer research advocate and have met with many of the same representatives in the past. It was a pleasure to meet with many of the families as my participation in Advocacy Day was in the spirit of “we are all in this together”.
Jessica Haugen and Jeff Eliason received the phone call every parent dreads in October 2012. Their son’s pediatrician told them their son, Larry, then 1, had Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and “there’s nothing you can do about it.” The couple reacted similarly to how other newly diagnosed parents receiving these results. Denial. Discouragement. Depression.
July 22 is National Fragile X Awareness Day, but I’ll bet few know the history behind it.
In 2000, before there was such a thing as a Fragile X Advocacy Day, FRAXA Research Foundation and David Busby (husband to Mary Beth, father to two adult sons living with Fragile X, a member of FRAXA’s pioneering leadership team, and a prominent and politically well-connected DC lawyer) were running Fragile X advocacy in Washington, DC.
Twenty-two is a terrifying birthday for the parent of a child with Fragile X Syndrome. It marks the end of formal schooling. We were daunted by this transition. Our son, Ryan, had been attending a residential school, New England Center for Children, for the previous 12 years. For almost all his waking hours, Ryan had one-on-one staffing and five additional staff nearby in case of behavioral outbursts. On community outings he was usually accompanied by at least three staff members. Now we were about to move him to Shared Living Collaborative (SLC) where he would have just one-to-one daytime staffing and two-to-one staffing in his residential placement, with no immediate, additional staff for help during a behavioral incident. We were tense and on edge about how this new arrangement would work. Rocky Beginnings This placement did not start out well. SLC seriously questioned whether Ryan could continue in the program. We approached a crisis point at SLC,
Rolling Stone Magazine published a powerful article by award-winning writer, Paul Solotaroff, featuring his son, Luke. Luke is 17 years old and has Fragile X syndrome. What will happen when Luke becomes an adult and no longer has a right to schooling? During his research, Paul visited the Shared Living Collaborative in Merrimac, MA. This is the program where my son, Andy, age 28, works (and plays) during his days. Perhaps it can serve as a model for other programs around the country. Read the article here: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/features/lukes-best-chance-one-mans-fight-for-his-autistic-son-w431012 Read about Shared Living Collaborative here: https://www.fraxa.org/turning-22-fragile-x-adults/Read more
FRAXA Research Foundation is fortunate to attract volunteers and interns from universities far and wide. FRAXA has just four staff on the payroll (three of whom are part time), to keep expenses low and devote your donations to Fragile X research. That also means we are very grateful to our volunteers! This past summer we were joined at the FRAXA Newburyport, MA office by Emily Fluet, a student who had completed her freshman year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. Emily has transformed two FRAXA publications into online resources available to all: Fragile X – A to Z and Medication Guide for Fragile X. My summer at FRAXA Research Foundation by Emily Fluet 9/1/2015 Many of my friends went on gap years last year, and hearing about their volunteering and service really inspired me: I wanted to do something to help out others as well. So I started researching nonprofits and was drawn to
Undergraduate students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) complete what is known as the Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Student groups work closely with local or national sponsors during their junior year to complete a project that benefits their community. Two student groups from WPI are working with FRAXA to provide research-based improvements to the FRAXA.org website, and to develop a mobile FRAXA app. Biomedical Engineering major Krisha Nazareth and Computer Science major Christopher Gillis are working on the app development team (Team App). Team App is working to create a mobile app which will use GPS services on smart phones to inform users of nearby clinical trials, resources and events. The app will also host a discussion board for members of the Fragile X community. Biology and Biotechnology majors Rachel Prescott and Collette Bora and Mechanical Engineering major Heather Lavoie are performing research to make strategic improvements to the FRAXA.org website (TeamRead more
Many older family members in the Fragile X community are affected by FXTAS (Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome). We all hope that knowing the underlying cause of neurodegenerative symptoms in FXTAS will help in the development of specific treatments over the long term. In the short term, we would also hope that having a specific diagnosis would help us to identify particular available treatments which might be more effective than others. One of the available treatments for Alzheimer's Disease is a glutamate receptor blocker called memantine (Namenda), and dementia specialists think this drug could be effective in treating a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. It has been found to be effective in treating Lewy Body Dementia, a disorder which causes parkinsonism and cognitive decline, with features rather similar to FXTAS. This led researchers to think that this drug could also be useful in treating FXTAS, and initial open-label experience with it wasRead more
In a heartfelt, humorous and insightful speech, Elizabeth Higgins Clark imparts the inspiration and love she has received from her brother, David, who has Fragile X Syndrome. Fragile X is the most common form of genetically transferred intellectual disability. Clark gave the following speech in Danbury, Connecticut at the 11th Annual Fall X Ball benefitting the FRAXA Research Foundation. When I was trying to figure out what to say to you all tonight, I called David and asked what should be in the Fragile X speech. He replied, “You say, ‘this is my brother.’” Featured on HuffingtonPost http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-clark/david-is-my-human-barometer_b_4220818.html My favorite part is this: In a way, David is my human barometer. I judge the character of others by the way they treat my brother. If you flinch when he flaps his hand, or turn to dismiss him, you will never be close to me. My brother treats everyone he meets with decency andRead more
Darren's Smile - This is a very difficult post to write because it is about a son, Darren, who has passed away. Darren’s dad has written a memoir – a beautiful tribute to his son. Darren had Fragile X syndrome. He lived a rich life and was very much loved. Sadly he died because of a choking incident at the group home where he lived. There’s not much written about the risk of choking for people who have Fragile X, but I do wonder if it is a particular risk that we should remember. Read Darren's Smile at https://fraxa.org/pdf/Darren.pdfRead more