|The MacMillan Family: Jacques & parents
benefit, mother joins Abilities United board
From her work as a speech pathologist, Amber MacMillan had heard the buzz about Abilities United for years, and she became aware of the agency’s work. Then in 2008, her son Jacques was born with a disability and suddenly her family would become partiipants of Abilities United.
“Jacques was born in 2008 with a condition called hypotonia,” says Amber. “He was in the early intervention program at Abilities United starting at age two. With their therapy we saw lots of improvement in his ability to maintain his balance, and then to be able to stand and eventually walk.”
Like other Abilities United participants, Amber valued how Abilities United helped the whole family. “Having a child with a disability is a traumatic experience that hits like a freight train,” says Amber. “We had plans and dreams for our child, but now we would be taking a different path. It was very disorienting; suddenly my day was driven by doctor’s appointments and therapy appointments, and I didn’t know what was going on with our son or why. With Abilities United, I felt like I was arriving at a place where a team was going to take care of me as well as my child.”
“As a mother I found enormous value in what’s called parent group time,” Amber says. “When the child is with a therapist the parents have 45 minutes with each other and can talk about things relating to their children, or talk about what’s going on in their own lives. Lots of tears are shed there and you know you’re talking to people who understand the challenges. We all benefitted and felt that the parents group did something marvelous for us”
Amber was so impressed with her experience that she worked with three other parents to co-found the Abilities United Parent and Staff Association, and later she expanded her efforts to give back by joining the Abilities United Board of Directors.
At Abilities United, we are proud of the progress that Jacques has made, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with Amber as she strives to help both the organization, and other parents who have a child with a disability.
Based on a 2013 interview. Written by Bob Thomas, edited by Amber MacMillan and Wendy Kuehnl