By Cristina, a Children’s National parent
My 4-year-old daughter, Madison, loves to play outside. I love watching her have fun with other kids. She hasn’t always been able to enjoy herself, though. Madison has experienced a lot of family-related stress in her life. Her behavior has often been difficult for me. I’m a 24-year-old relative and soon-to-be adoptive mom to Madison and her younger brother, Jason. They’ve been with me for two years.
Madison and Jason have DiGeorge Syndrome. It’s a rare genetic disorder that causes poor development. A complex care pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital treats Madison for her condition. I mentioned our struggles and also about her nightmares and how she would cry all night. The pediatrician suggested behavioral therapy. She introduced us that day to a Dr. Julie Heier, a psychologist in the hospital’s Whole Bear Care Integrated Behavioral Health program.
Dr. Heier was helpful, easy to understand and curious about our story. She listened to my concerns. She also told me I was doing an incredible job, that I didn’t have to be perfect all the time and that it was okay for me to take a break and use my support system. It meant a lot to hear this.
Madison has evolved into a happier little girl thanks to Dr. Heier. Madison’s behavior also improved. She talks more, plays with her dolls and sleeps through the night. It’s been a happy roller coaster to watch her feel better as Dr. Heier has coached me to help Madison succeed. Her precious mental health would never have improved without care at Children’s National. She feels happy when she sees Dr. Heier. That makes me happy, too.