Jennifer and Jamie Proctor of Halfway, MO were thrilled to find out they were having twin daughters 8 years ago. Their daughters, Alyssa and Bailey were also excited about the news. The signs and symptoms of autism vary widely in children, and with Summer & Autumn Proctor, their parents began to have concerns with their development as time went on.
When the girls started walking a little later than their other two daughters, Jennifer remembers that both of them walked on their tip-toes. Along with a few other milestones that were notably delayed in comparison to their sisters, she also noted that they started talking later, too. At age 3, Jamie & Jennifer saw that Summer was most obviously catching on to things slower than the other kids in their preschool, but decided that they would take both girls in for some testing & a consultation. Little did they know that, just a few months later, both of their beautiful twin girls would be diagnosed with autism.
Although every parent handles their diagnoses differently, Jennifer immediately made the choice that she would do whatever it took to give Summer & Autumn every opportunity for a healthy, normal life, and that she would need to find help to do so. Not long after their diagnoses, Jennifer connected with Jamie Hazelrigg, their long-time CHS Service Coordinator, and the rest seems to be a happy history.
“Even in the very beginning, Jamie was able to help us get the support we needed to provide the girls with music therapy, equine therapy, speech & occupational & physical therapy,” Jennifer explained. “Jamie became much more than a resource, she became a friend of the family, and we can’t thank her enough for sticking with us and advocating for Summer & Autumn over the years.”
Now 8 years old, Autumn & Summer are fortunate to attend a small school in Halfway, with a extremely supportive staff & student body. Autumn is still very detail-oriented & all about organization, while Summer thrives with an excellent memory and recall abilities, yet they still struggle with a variety of challenges that autism imposes.
Over the last couple of years, CHS has helped the family secure self-directed support services so that the girls and the family have a trained caregiver available to support them during outings & offer the parents respite care once in awhile. Their new Service Coordinator, Deanna, along with Jamie and several others at CHS, continue to play a vital role in the Proctor family.
“Not only does Deanna now come to our school meetings and work with us to keep up with the girls’ Individualized Service Plans (ISP), she is our go-to person,” Jennifer said. “Whenever I’m not sure what to do or how to find something, I can always count on someone at CHS to help.”
Summer & Autumn have been blessed with a terrific family that not only supports & encourages them, but celebrates their differences. They generally do well in school & both enjoy playing basketball in a league in Springfield. The girls have even been ambassadors for Easter Seals, Children’s Miracle Network, & Wendy’s – just to name a few. They have learned to help others by sharing their story & lead by example by embracing their disability & educating others.
“The girls’ autism diagnoses has taught us to open our eyes to another world, to be patient, & to enjoy the little things,” Jennifer & Jamie shared. “Thanks to the help of Jamie & Deanna at CHS & our friends and family, we are just sure that we can continue to pave the way for Summer & Autumn to be successful in whatever they choose to do in life. What a blessing.”