A former Mason Middle School teacher’s family is among the recipients selected for the 26th annual Wish List program, a joint effort by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati and Enquirer. More than $3.5 million has been raised and donated since the program started in 1986. A series of 12 short profiles of people who need your help appear in the Enquirer this month, with information on how to donate. Money contributed beyond what these 12 people need will go to help people in similar circumstances.
Kyle McIntosh, 5 is autistic. He needs a special wheelchair to allow his mother Kelli McIntosh to take him out shopping and on other trips with her. He easily gets tired if he walks by himself. Here they shop in the Target store in MIddletown, one of Kyle's favorite places, he mimic's Elmo, his favorite Sesame Street character. The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong.
In many ways, Kyle McIntosh is like any other boy his age.
The 5-year-old from Monroe likes to swim, go on car rides and watch football with his dad, Jesse.
But Kyle, who suffers a variety of physical and developmental disabilities, faces more barriers than most children.
Kyle McIntosh, 5 is autistic. He is growing fast and regular changing tables are to small for him and often too short for his mother Kelli McIntosh. They need a special table to make the job of changing Kyle far easier. The Enquirer/Glenn Hartong.
He was diagnosed with hypotonia shortly after birth. The condition, marked by low muscle tone, makes it difficult for Kyle to walk long distances and makes him more prone to falling.
Kyle also has epilepsy and autism. Although he has yet to say his first word, he communicates through a special application on his iPad and knows basic sign language.
“It’s been a journey,” Kyle’s mother, Kelli, said. “He reaches his milestones, but way delayed.”
As Kyle gets older, the challenges of caring for him mount. Both parents are tall – Kelli is a willowy 6-foot-1 and Jesse towers at 6-foot-6 – and Kyle is quickly shooting up.
Lifting and carrying their 55-pound son is becoming more difficult for Kelli and especially Jesse, who suffers from degenerative discs in his back.
His parents are hoping that an adaptive stroller designed for disabled children and a wall-mounted changing table will help them better care for Kyle and allow the family more freedom to go places.
“We’ve had him on a typical stroller, and it’s just not big enough for him,” Kelli said. “This will grow with him and will be a necessity for years and years.”
The family borrowed a donated stroller this summer from Abilities First, where Kyle attends preschool. The increased mobility allowed the McIntosh family to take its first vacation in years.
“Before, we were limited on where we could go,” Kelli said. “If I just wanted to go to the mall for fun, that was really impossible.”
An extended-length changing table would make it easier to change Kyle’s diapers and clothing through adulthood.
“Right now, we change him on the floor of our living room. That’s the only place where we can lay him down and do this,” said Kelli.
“We hope that one day he will be able to go to the restroom, but based on his development now, it could still be a few years before we get to that – or it could be for life, we don’t know,” his mother said.
Insurance doesn’t cover the costs of the stroller or changing table and the family’s finances are sapped.
Kelli taught at Mason Middle School for seven years before leaving her job to take care of Kyle and his younger sister, Kaylie. She now works part-time as a bookkeeper.
Jesse works as an over-the-road truck driver, which keeps him away from the family for days and weeks on end.
“Even though life is difficult, Kyle finds happiness in even the smallest things. He has a laughter that’s contagious,” said Kelli. “He’s still a blessing and joy, and I would do it all over again.”
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