Stories & Pictures
Eight-year-old Chizaroku from Prince Georges County has Down syndrome. He sleeps with a bi-pap machine to combat his sleep apnea. Five nights a week, his mother Fidela puts him to bed, hooks him up to the machine, and kisses him goodbye before slipping out to her night job. She works as an aide to people with disabilities, and must leave her 18 year-old-daughter in charge of the boy and his 12 year-old-sister. Fidela is gone from 11pm to 7 am. "I worry all night long", she says.
Fidela knows worry well. She is a single parent to her three children. Chizaroku is a playful, affectionate boy who loves school and people and music. But his needs are constant and never-ending. He needs help with bathing, dressing, and eating. He wears diapers. He cannot speak, yet he can open the door and run out. Fidela put a bell on the door so she can hear if her son tries to go out. He loves the outdoors, but he is not safe to leave the house alone.
"I must work two jobs to make ends meet," Fidela says, "but I call out of work a lot because my children need me. I can't manage without help."
Chizaroku has been on the waiting list for four years with no help in sight. When Fidela calls DDA she is told there is no funding for children like him, and to call back when he turns 21.
Please invest in the resolution of the issue before the damage becomes even more overwhelming. Invest in citizens of Maryland with developmental disabilities. www.endthewaitnow.com
Developmental Disabilities Coalition
Dedicated to the rights and quality of life of people with developmental disabilities in Maryland