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National Family Caregivers Month Valerie

A Season of Thankful Hearts, by Valerie Breen

We are in the season of thankful hearts. This time of the year is special for me because of the incredible caregivers and supporters who were by my side throughout my own recent health journey. I learned that there are many aspects of caregiving, such as keeping an eye on someone, anticipating their needs, providing direct support to get something done, providing direction or education, doing something for the person because they cannot do it themselves, or just plain being there when no one else can be, to give guidance and support whenever needed whether in person or by phone.

When I think of the half a million families living in Florida who have a loved one with a developmental disability, I realize that their role(s) as a family and caregiver never stops. Of course, all of us as parents take on the role of caregiving and support when our children come into this world with hopes and dreams of how we will help them develop into functioning, successful adults. But to be by the side of our child diagnosed with a developmental disability such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and other developmental disorders is a different level of lifetime commitment with a level of stressors that change over time, but never go away. It can be an around-the-clock worry with rarely, if ever, an extended break.

On behalf of the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Inc. we celebrate all families whose perseverance is relentless, whose advocacy is fierce, whose resilience is immeasurable, whose commitment to secure their loved one’s future never stops, and whose creative solutions, when nothing else is available, makes an incredible difference in the quality of life for those they love. As we finish celebrating National Family Caregiver Month, remember that you are our heroes this month and every month.

We wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Valerie Breen
Executive Director
Florida Developmental Disabilities Council


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