A Family’s Journey: The Fraziers

Donovan “Donnie” Frazier is thriving in his second year at the Frazer Center according to his mother Lauren. But the Frazier family’s journey hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing.

In the summer of 2014, when Lauren was 36 weeks into her pregnancy with Donnie, she experienced what felt like stomach pain. Her husband Dashaun took her to the hospital, and Lauren quickly went from the ER into Labor & Delivery where she was scheduled to be induced the next day. But it turned out that her intestines were blocked, and Donnie’s heart rate dropped before they could induce labor. Lauren had an emergency C-section, and because her body essentially had to choose whom to save—the mother or the child—she went into a coma. Donnie was born not breathing.

Thankfully, four days later, mother and child met for the first time. Ten days later, the Fraziers got the diagnosis: Donnie had spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy. The doctors said they would just have to “wait and watch.”

Spastic diplegia can present itself differently from individual to individual, but generally, it affects muscle control. In Donnie’s case, his left side was impacted, so before he was a year old he began seeing a physical therapist through Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Donnie was 14 months old before he learned to crawl. He was in a childcare center at the time, and Lauren found that getting his teachers to maintain Donnie’s exercise practice outside of therapy appointments was a challenge.

By the time Donnie was 2 years old, he had progressed to walking and running, but he had a speech delay. Lauren felt like he needed to be in a child development center that could provide him with specialized support, but the places she looked into were cost prohibitive. Then one day a professional from Babies Can’t Wait—Georgia’s early intervention program for infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities and their families—told her that the Frazer Center had an immediate opening. “He’d do well there. Call them; go there today,” she told Lauren, who leapt into action.

The Frazier Family

Donnie was enrolled right away, and thanks to the inclusion services that Frazer offers, Donnie’s physical and speech therapists all come to him here, making life “so much easier” for his exhausted mom who had been running all over town to get Donnie to his different appointments. Donnie was making strides in his speech and movement, but he was beginning to have issues with aggression. With observation and documentation, Nympha, one of Frazer’s Inclusion Consultants, was able to correlate sensory over-stimulation with Donnie’s aggressive episodes. Nympha shared strategies with Donnie’s teachers, and Lauren says the teachers have gone “above and beyond” to adjust the classroom to accommodate his needs, such as providing for more structured transitions from one activity to the next.

Lauren is hopeful that the skills Donnie is learning at Frazer will set a solid foundation for the rest of his life. She gives big credit to Donnie’s teachers who “give him the love as well as the structure that he needs. Ms. Cathy loves him like one of her own.”

Knowing that Donnie has such a good support system behind him has allowed Lauren and Dashaun to exhale a bit so they can focus on their 1-yr-old twins, Shaun and Sophia, who will soon be joining their big brother at Frazer. Finances are tight for the Fraziers, but with some help from family and the DeKalb County Human Services grant that allows the Frazer Center to assist eligible families living in DeKalb County, Donnie is helping to create an inclusive early childhood environment that all Frazer Center children benefit from.