Hello, my name is Jenny DePaul. I am so happy to have the opportunity to talk to you tonight. I would like to start by introducing you to my son Kental.
Kental was 3 and a half when we made that video. Just six weeks later, his speech started to slur and his motor skills weakened. The regression progressed over the next week until Kental could no longer speak or communicate in any way. He was always frightened, confused and uncomfortable. He needed hand over hand assistance in all areas. He was incontinent, ate objects,would act out behaviorally, tantrumed for hours and went days without sleep.
He was diagnosed with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder – a rare condition characterized by late onset of developmental delays in language, social function, and motor skills. The prognosis is not good.
Kental was a foster child who came to live with us when he was 1 year old. He joined my husband and I and our two daughters, Lilli and Annabelle. I remember the moment I first saw Kental; I knew instantly he belonged with us. Our hope and prayer for Kental was that he would be happy, safe, and know what it meant to have a family and a home.
After Kental regressed his biological parents no longer fought to get him back. They asked that their rights be terminated. If we didn’t adopt Kental, DYFS would immediately move to a group home and he would be considered unadoptable. Within a few months, Kental officially became a DePaul.
The next few years were very challenging. We had very little help. I was unable to work. My husband would have to take on a second full time job. Our lives were consumed with doctors, hospitalizations, evaluations, tests, neurologists, nutritionists, special diets, medications, OT, PT, Speech Therapy, and much more.
We were consumed with fixing Kental. Any normal daily activity had to wait until Kental fell asleep…IF he fell asleep. The stress eventually affected us financially, emotionally and physically. I wasn’t sure what the answer was. I only knew God would provide. And he did.
Kental was accepted into the Kennedy Kreiger Institute – a 6 month neo behavioral inpatient program inMaryland. While there, the specialists came up with a behavioral plan to address Kental’s behaviors. After his discharge, the Department of Developmental Disabilities offered us funding for in home behavioral support services and introduced to YCS, 5 years ago.
YCS joined our family the day Kental and I returned home. Behaviorist, Aslam Ali would learn Kendal’s intense behavioral plan and train our first Behavioral Assistant, Anthony Baskin.Kental also started attending theSawtelle Learning Center.
Until today, YCS support workers are with us up to 12 hours a day; 7 days a week. They spend ever holiday with us and are a part of all family celebrations. They are also available to us overnights, if needed. They have been there to encourage us and remind us of what Kental can do, when we start to think he can’t.
YCS has made it possible for us to function as a family. They make it possible for me to do simple things like make dinner, help our daughters with homework, and go to see them perform in a school play or softball game.
This summer, Kental attended YCS sleep away camp. I never thought could happen. It took much encouragement and convincing from Anthony and Ali. They promised to keep me informed on how Kental was doing. I got daily updates and pictures of Kental on the zip line, rock climbing and more.
Kental came home from camp with two awards: Cutest kid at camp and Best hair. YCS also made it possible for Kental to attend the Summer Enrichment Program by offering us a full scholarship. We are thankful to all the people who made this possible by their donations.
When YCS came into our lives things became manageable. It allowed us the space to consider the possibility that fixing Kental may not be part of God’s plan for him. YCS made it possible for us to breathe and refocus. We no longer feel the need to fix Kental. We are able to enjoy Kental where he is, while continuing to research and try interventions to increase his abilities.
Kental may always need this level of supervision and supports but he is happy, and safe with a family who loves him. Kental is a very special little boy with great purpose. He is still the same beautiful, loving, funny, inspiring, little boy we all saw a few minutes ago in the video. In many ways, Kental is very blessed. He was once thought to be unadoptable and without family. The reality is that he not only has a family but he has a great extended YCS family that includes all of you.
Thank you – Aslam and Anthony for all your support, understanding and dedication over the years. Thank you – for all you have done and continue to do for so many children and families. You are all truly an inspiration.