Mom reaches out to parents of special needs kids

Christine McCarty began to suspect something atypical about her daughter, Addy, when Addy was just a few months old.

"Something was just different with her," said McCarty, whose oldest daughter was preschool age at the time Addy was born.

The biggest indicator, McCarty said, was Addy's inability to look her in the eye. As she grew, Addy was unable to point or pick up small objects. There were therapies along the way, but it wasn't until after years of investigating, testing and doctor's visits that McCarty and her husband finally got the answers they were looking for. At age 7, their daughter was diagnosed with autism and a genetic disorder.

Addy's genetic disorder, adenosine monophosphate deaminase 1, often is accompanied by autism. In Addy's case, that includes speech delays and sensory issues. The disorder, McCarty said, involves a disconnect between the brain and muscles. Muscles are generally weak and tire easily, and motions that come easily for neurotypical children are difficult for Addy, McCarty said.

"She doesn't know how to shake her head yes or no," McCarty said, offering an example of something that's still difficult for Addy at age 9.

But there are other things Addy can do more easily than most people. She can walk into her classroom at St. Isaac Jogues school and know immediately who is missing that day. If a picture on a wall is moved or replaced, it takes Addy no time to take notice.

"She remembers everything," McCarty said.

Determined to help other parents, McCarty launched her website,, two years ago. There, she has compiled information, recommendations, resources and even her own thoughts and experiences into a one-stop resource for other parents of children with special needs. McCarty describes the website as "a place where parents and caregivers can come to learn, share, listen and obtain helpful information that I have come across in raising Addy."

She also said the website and accompanying blog help her to cope with the ups and downs of raising a child with special needs while also raising two other children and working full time.

McCarty said she knows every situation is unique and not everyone will find her website helpful. But she knows from the many responses she's received that it is helping some people. Mostly, she wants other parents to know they aren't alone.

"There were times when I felt alone on an island," McCarty said. "That's when I started blogging."

McCarty said no one knows just how far Addy will progress or what the future holds. But for now, she loves singing and dancing as part of Hinsdale's BAM Theater and running up and down the field as she learns to play soccer.

As siblings to a child with special needs, older sister Alex, 13, and younger sister Andi, 6, are learning, too. McCarty said they have a special appreciation for the ability to perform small tasks that cause their sister to struggle, and they have a drive to use their talents and abilities to their fullest. They also have extraordinary patience and extraordinary love for their sister.

"Addy teaches them things I could never teach them," McCarty said.

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean