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Charlotte Twaddell chapter 2


Chapter 1: Childhood, Early Adulthood, and Marriage
Chapter 2: Children and Discovering Daughter's Disability (you are here)
Chapter 3: Involvement with Chester County ARC
Chapter 4: Looking for Supports for Daughter, Placement at Elwyn
Chapter 5: Community Living, Successes and Challenges
Chapter 6: Charlotte's Current Advocacy Efforts and Thoughts on the Current System
Chapter 7: Reflections on Work, Inspirations

transcript - entire interview

Charlotte Twaddell Interview (Word)

transcript - current chapter

Chapter 2: Children and Discovering Daughter's Disability

21:52:02:19 - 21:52:47:00

L. Did you have children?

C. Yes, mm-hmm, um we were married in 1951 and in 1952 our first child was born. His name is Howard and uh, we were very delighted and very busy new parents and my husband was in the restaurant business and it was a kind of, he and his brother were the owners and partners but it was a family operation and everybody was involved so it was, it was interesting.

21:52:47:04 - 21:53:25:11

L. Did you continue to work after you had your first child?

C. Yes, uh-huh, off and on. I would fill in wherever I was needed and uh, whatever I had to do I would do. And we just, uh, had the same goals and objectives, I guess, and that was to we started out in a little house and of course we were hoping to move into something bigger eventually. And uh we just went along day by day and did our thing and it was, it was quite successful.

21:53:25:25 - 21:53:54:10

L. When did you have your next child?

C. Uh, let's see. I think about three years later. Uh, trying to think but it was probably about three years later. We had a daughter, Beverly, and it wasn't until she was about two years old that we had confirmed the fact that she was a mentally challenged.

21:53:56:23 - 21:56:36:28

L. You say it was about two that Beverly was about two when you realized she had a disability. Were there any signs or any indications early on that Beverly wasn't developing perhaps the way Howard had developed?

C. Yeah there were. Having had a child and raised one for a couple of years, uh, I had some idea of the progression that children make and it seemed to me that Beverly was slow. She sort of did everything but she was very slow about doing she was a happy child and not a problem but I was getting more and more concerned. And so eventually, I had taken her to several she had a pediatrician and a GP so forth but I raised concerns but they said "Oh, I think you're just being an overly concerned mother and she'll be fine" and so forth and so on. It got to the point where I wasn't happy with that answer and so on my own and to tell you the truth I don't recall how I found this doctor but I took her to a neurologist and that was, at that time, that he confirmed my suspicions and said that she undoubtedly brain injured, probably from birth at some point and we've never really had a clear definition or diagnosis. I've also been told that it possibly could've been a fetal stroke which uh, I had never even heard of but I know it is, it does happen. So his recommendation was that it was not anything genetic and that I should think about placing her in an institution and go home and have another baby and go see her on Sunday and that was that. So I was, guess I wasn't expecting to get such a, such a confirmation at that moment and I left his office absolutely stunned and in shock and uh, was very upset for a couple of weeks.

21:56:37:01 - 21:59:23:28

L. What was that car ride home like?

C. Not good, not good, not good. It was very upsetting. I truly I hate to admit it but I truly thought about the advantage of running the car off the road and into a tree and just ending it at that moment but knowing me I like life too much and I don't think I really could have ever done anything like that but uh I was terribly, terribly upset and my husband was horribly upset to see me so upset and we just had to eventually accept what is and as I've often been quoted as saying that someone once told me and I think it's true that when something like this happens, when you face the fact that you have a child who had disabled; first it's denial. No, no. This can't be. And then secondly it's acceptance. Well I guess it is. And then it's well what do I do? Now what do I do? And then fourth, well what can I do to help others in this position? And as I've said before there are some people that don't get to that fourth place but it didn't take me long to get through all four, all four situations and so I started immediately to look for, uh, help. I thought I can't be the only person in the world that has this problem even though it was a foreign problem to me. And so I started to look around for support and back in those days, in 1956, Beverly was born in 56 and there was very little available of anything but I did find the ARC of Chester County and it was of course the Chester County Association for Retarded Children in those days and so I immediately made contact with them and low and behold there were other people that did have this difficulty and so I quickly became involved and they were a great help. It was a help just knowing that there was someone out there to talk to and uh, be supportive.

22:00:01:16 - 22:00:50:20

L. Charlotte, I certainly want to ask you about your involvement with the ARC but I want to go back to something that you had said, um when you saw the neurologist who gave Beverly the diagnosis of then the terminology mental retardation, he suggested that you place her. Is that something that you and your husband considered?

C. No, at the time I was so stunned. I mean there I was with my adorable little girl and just the thoughts of placing her any place but with me, I couldn't even imagine. So I was totally dumbfounded and so that was not going to be a consideration. Not then, that's for sure.

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