Adams Garrett is like any other 7 year-old - precocious, curious and full of spirit. Even as he faces several physical and genetic ailments, his energy is simply inspiring to his parents and three siblings.
Adams was born with multiple disabilities: moderate/severe hearing loss in both ears; cervical stenosis, a condition that causes the narrowing of the bones at the base of his neck that slightly pinches his spinal cord; mild cerebral palsy; several genetic abnormalities, that include Klinefelter's syndrome - sometimes referred as the XXY syndrome - a chromosomal condition that affects male sexual development; eczema, which causes inflammation on the outer layer of the skin; and he was recently diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), a form of autism.
Adams goes to speech and occupational therapy in Lawrenceville every Monday, while attending Covington Academy during the rest of the week. He will also be starting aquatic therapy that will help his joints and muscles due to the cervical stenosis and cerebral palsy. He will be undergoing an MRI on Aug. 25 to check the progression of the cervical stenosis and a mass in his skull which doctors believe to be bone growth.
"What his pediatrician is trying to do is curb the hyperactivity with more therapy instead of medication," said Erica Garrett, Adams’ mother. "He had an acute dystonic reaction [which causes sustained, often painful muscular spasms, producing twisting abnormal postures] when they prescribed Ritalin. It was scary. He was focused — he planned his entire birthday party that night — but it was a like a manic state of focus."
To help treat his autism, Erica plans to get a hearing/mobility/autism service dog that will help Adams with his everyday needs like carrying his books for him while in school and keeping his attention from straying.
"Adams is very social and loves people," said Erica. "But he’s different. And kids know he’s different. Kids aren’t generally nice. They’ve never been mean to him, but everybody loves a dog. So the dog will help bridge the differences between Adams and the rest of the kids and help his social skills."
The service dog will be trained at Highland Training Canine located in North Carolina. The cost of training and placement of the dog will cost the Garretts nearly $9,000.
Along with the service dog, the Garretts are looking to purchase a Recaro car seat suitable for Adams’ needs. The Recaro car seat will help Adamss maintain proper posture to stabilize his spinal column.
"He has a booster seat, but it is not safe for him," Erica said. "The cerebral palsy makes it to where when he falls asleep in the car he slides either to the left or right or lays to the front, almost in his own lap. If his neck were to become instable a car accident could internally decapitate him."
To give the Garretts a helping hand, Chick-Fil-A will be hosting Spirit Night, a fundraiser for Adams, on Aug. 13 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Ten percent of all purchases will be given to the family to help them purchase the car seat and an autism assistance dog. Chili’s in Loganville will be doing the same for the Garretts, though the dates have yet to be confirmed.
"Adams’ school has offered their parking lot to us so we can hold a benefit for him," Erica said. "But we have no idea what we are going to do and how we would go about doing it. We just moved here in November, and don’t know too many people around here. We really just need all the help we can get."
For more information or to make donations, visit Adamssdog.chipin.com/my-sons-service-dog; or call Erica Garrett at (678) 549-5988.