Twins present unique challenge to Ohio family
Ella and Eavan Kuehnle were born three minutes apart. They are identical twins, separated by one distinction: Ella has Down syndrome while Eavan does not.
The Kuehnles discovered Ella’s diagnosis after she was born. The only solace from their doctor was an orange folder full of fliers about people with Down syndrome.
“First we had to wrap our brains around it,” said Jonathan. “We were sad, we were fearful, we were angry, we were confused because you don’t really know what it means to have a child with Down syndrome.”
In the seven years since the twins were born, Jonathan and Kimberly have ridden an emotional rollerc oaster. Each day they have learned more about how to raise a daughter with Down syndrome. They connected with Help Me Grow, a state and federally funded organization in Cincinnati, which offered therapy services for infants with developmental delays. Kimberly said the sessions started a comfortable parenting environment at home.
Jonathan and Kimberly are active participants in DASACO, The Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio. Jonathan fundraises yearly for the organization by running a marathon and donates 100 percent of the proceeds to the organization.
With grants from DASACO, Kimberly organized a support group in their hometown of Chillicothe, Ohio. Parents whose children are born with special needs are welcome to attend the monthly meetings to engage with unique speakers and topics of conversation. The support group is the first of its kind in Ross County.
“I wish someone was here when I was scared and feeling alone,” said Kimberly. “It would have been nice to know that there was someone who could offer their experience of parenting a Downs child.”
Jonathan said that everyone’s needs are different. “I need to wear glasses and Ella needs an individual education plan,” he said. He does not view Ella with a disability, but rather as someone who needs additional help.
Kimberly and Jonathan know that their twin daughters are too young to decide on their future. They can only hope that they are doing their best to provide an independent and happy adulthood for all of their children.
Photographer Dania Maxwell can be reached at www.daniamaxwell.com/ or www.daniamaxwell.blogspot.com.