Military Special Needs Mom, Jennifer S. and “Kaitlyn’s Law”
I had the chance to interview Jennifer S. recently about her experiences as a special needs mom AND military spouse. She allowed me to share her daughter’s story and her own battle with Tricare over the treatment.
About Jennifer: As a military mother with a special needs daughter, she has a heart touching story of a true fighter.
Jen is married to a Navy captain and together they have three children. Their oldest, Kaitlyn, suffers from cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, and scoliosis. Kaitlyn does therapeutic horseback riding, where riding a horse regularly prevents her spine from curving a certain degree that would crush her lungs and cause her to suffocate. This therapy is actually less costly and more effective than any other form of therapy for Kaitlyn’s disabilities. However, the government has decided to revoke the family’s Tricare coverage over her life-saving therapy, as well as making the family pay for previously covered sessions, even though a court ruled in favor of the Samuels family’s matters.
After two years of legal wrangling, Jennifer took her case to Congress and has been fighting to get “Kaitlyn’s Law” passed. It’s a bipartisan bill which would guarantee that military families who are covered under Tricare do in fact receive coverage for therapy that special needs children and wounded warriors must get.
- What are your child’s special needs? Severe global developmental delays due to congenital brain malformation; CP; Scoliosis; Epilepsy
- Please share your journey as a special needs mom:Kaitlyn was diagnosed at 7 months old but I knew something was wrong much sooner but no one, including the pediatrician were concerned. It was a true grieving process. At the time I thought I’d never make it. But now I am a better, stronger person.
- What has been the greatest difficulty/challenge you have faced in parenting a child with special needs? During the toddler years comparing her to typical kids. It was gut wrenching. I rarely do that anymore and just love her for the sweet little person she is.
- What advice would you give other special needs parents? You are stronger than you think you are. Give yourself time. Definitely reach out to other special needs parents.
- Why/How do you advocate for your child and/or other children? I don’t take no for an answer if my child’s needs are not being met. I started Kaitlyn’s Foundation to help fund physical therapy using the horse while we work to clarify the law thru Congress.
- Struggles/Achievements/Overcoming obstacles – I had to go through a long process to accept and be at peace with the fact that she will need care for her entire life. I will be her caregiver as long as I am living.
- What has been the greatest difficulty in dealing with the military as a parent of a child with special needs? No respite care because of our situation with wait-lists. When we move we start at the bottom of the list in the new state.
Connect with Jennifer:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheOnlyThingThatWorksAmericansForKaitlynSamuels
- Twitter: @KaitlynsFDN
- Website: www.kaitlynsfoundation.org
- YouTube: KaitlynsFDN
The Samuels family created Kaitlyn’s Foundation in partnership with Rocky Top Therapy Center to support special needs children in military families who use horses for their physical therapy. The Foundation also creates awareness about insurance coverage for military family physical therapy treatments. Kaitlyn, the Foundation’s name sake, was born with severe congenital brain abnormalities and suffers from severe scoliosis. Physical therapy using a horse is Kaitlyn’s life saving method of treatment.
Thanks to Jennifer S. For sharing her story! Please visit Kaitlyn’s Foundation and help make changes with Tricare.
Live, Love & Learn,