For Bella, one of the biggest challenges she faces is going into new environments like the playground, going grocery shopping, or the mall.
But four years ago, that got a little easier, thanks to her autism assistance service dog guide, Kadence.
“I couldn’t even explain the feeling I had when I saw Bella squeal when she first met Kadence,” says Andrea. “Kadence has really allowed Bella to find her independence.”
When Bella was a year old, she was diagnosed with a global developmental delay. A couple years after that, she was then diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.
“Many people predicted that she wouldn’t be able to walk. And we worked with many physiotherapists and occupational therapists to help with her physical well-being,” says Andrea.
“When she was almost three, she took her first few steps and being able to experience that moment where she took her first steps was very exciting.”
But, at the age of six, after genetic and blood testing via the Rett’s Clinic at Holland Bloorview she was diagnosed with Pitt-Hopkins Syndrome—a rare genetic condition impacting intellectual development.
Since then, Bella has been a client of the Rett’s Clinic for support on her physical, mental, and social well-being.
“People and families who live with disabilities have a very unique journey in life. Capes for Kids is a great way to bring awareness to the fact that we are proud of who we are,” says Andrea.
“Being part of this campaign gives Bella and her family a voice to not only be comfortable in our own skin, but to also reach out to others in our community in hopes of creating a healthy dialogue to see the positives in all our differences.”