I pause before sharing Hannah, primarily to reflect on the incredible journey that parents with special children “just know”. There is so much to share, so many blessings; so by way of introduction, here is the “Mommy Version” of Hannah 25 years into being a part of the wonderful “Fragile-X Family”.
Diagnosed at age 5 in England, and an interesting find for the medical researchers as a female, Hannah was an inquisitive, happy-go-lucky little beauty with an older sister and a younger brother. At age 8, the family made a move to the USA which seemed a good move since the schooling practices for special education programs were supported much more than in the UK. Yes, she was supported well in school, but as she became a teenager and then young adult, her ability to stay connected socially, without the support of a parent or sibling, dwindled. She was left out, often bullied and teased and decided living life in her “own little world” in the comfort of her home and alongside adults was the safest place to be. We struggled with the transition from school and into the working world; there didn’t seem an ideal option or a place where Hannah could thrive. After many trials, a bowling alley, a hotel to name a few, Hannah decided to volunteer her time two days a week at a local pet store, just to help. The pet store seemed to work. Hannah’s need for routine helped; she was true to her volunteer commitment and loved working among animals and I’m happy to say the volunteer role still exists today alongside a three day week role in a local animal hospital – with pay! Ask her to do anything related to the cleaning, fetching, carrying or general duties of the vet’s office and she’ll do it, with a huge smile. Hannah skips out of her job each evening, with a great, positive attitude and always an “I Love My Job” statement as she jumps into the car. She proudly leaves the message on her cell phone as the Super-Behind-The-Scenes-Vet-Tech who is unavailable at the moment and shares great relationships with the people she works with. Approaching her fourth working year in what she sees as complete delight, we have seen transformational effect on Hannah’s outlook and enjoyment in life. So, we are about to celebrate her “30th” and I’m sure dogs will have something to do with it.
25 Years On: I Love My Job!
Hannah Bayly & Jo Barr
There’s something very humbling about setting about writing a story that comes from deep within the heart; and it’s my intention that this piece is Hannah’s words not mine (her Momma). So when asked to reflect on what is now 30 years of Hannah, I thought….no problem! We’ll gather around the table and interview her; ask questions that she can speak of her own experiences; she has come so far. This will be easy. Yet, here I am stalled at the swarm of memories drifting in and out of my head and how to begin.
Hannah at a Fragile X Society Conference in 1994
In Hannah’s words…..
Q: What are the best things you remember about when you were younger?
One of my most favorite things was when we went as a family to Disney World in Florida to meet Mickey Mouse. It was really hot! My nose was sweating and it dripped off my face. I was completely sunburned. It made me a little sick but I still had fun. We went to EPCOT, Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios. I was 8 years old. In 1990 I won a swimming medal, it was Silver. I also won a Special Olympics medal it was great fun.
Q: Who was the most special person you met along the way?
My most favorite person is my friend Courtney. Courtney is a Mommy with two little babies. Kingston who is 2 and Lynn who a new baby. Courtney takes me out sometimes and we do girl stuff. We go shopping, we go out to dinner sometimes. When we were younger we went to Youth Camp together is Estes Park Colorado. One time when I was asleep on the tour bus, she sprayed cheese spray in my mouth. Yuk. She did it for fun. Courtney helps me and talks with me we have been friends for 14 years.
Q: Where was your most favorite place to live?
My most favorite place to live is Kansas City in the United States of America. I have lived in Kansas since 1997. In my neighborhood, I can go to the pool, walk on trails. We have squirrels, rabbits and raccoons sometimes in my back garden.
Q: What types of things do you do at work now?
When I arrive at work I put the Blue Valley Animal Clinic leashes around my neck – just in case the dogs try to run off or escape. Then I wipe down all the gray kennels with soap, water and a rag. I have a bucket. Then I clean the bathrooms. Then I sometimes vacuum the dog fur after the groomer is finished cutting the dogs hair. Then I use a standard vacuum around the dental ward and the area where they have the dog food. Then I use the hose vacuum to clean in the areas where the dogs are after they’ve been groomed. I clean windows, I sometimes help with some of the surgery clean up. Sometimes I clean the daycare area, indoor pens. I really love my job. I am very dedicated and love the people I work with. I have been there since 2012. I wear my own Blue Valley Animal Hospital T shirt and have my picture of the web site. My job title is Behind-The-Scenes Super-Assistant.
Q: What is your favorite memory about school?
My most favorite memory about school was being a Panther Cheerleader at Prairie Star Middle School, when I was 13 years old. It was great fun to jump and dance and learn the moves to be a cheerleader.
Q: Tell us about the best place you went on vacation?
My most favorite vacation was to Pensacola Florida with my Mom and Step-Dad to race sail boats. We drove through 7 States and stayed on the beach with Cooper my favorite dog. The lovely beach and enjoying the sunshine and tube surfing was my favorite. I had salmon to eat and it was hot.
Q: What have you learned about at the Vets?
I’ve learned how to work with dogs about how they behave, how they interact with people and how to take care of them. Sometimes, we take care of cats. I have watched surgery sometimes. It’s kind of gross.
Hannah in 2015