Amy and Stephanie Gempp, fraternal twins, were born twelve weeks early on July 22, 1988. Amy weighed 1,000 grams, and Stephanie weighed 820 grams. They stayed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for 2 months and 3 months and five days, respectively. During that time Amy progressed smoothly with very few setbacks except that she had difficulty sucking, so gavage feeding was necessary.
Stephanie’s progress was not as smooth. She had many setbacks. One month and 18 days after Stephanie was born, she developed an infection in the lining of her intestine. All feedings were stopped. After two months of intravenous, a blood vessel burst causing IV fluid to seep into her tissue and burning the area at her right wrist. She would eventually need plastic surgery to allow full range of motion in that joint. To this day, that wrist hurts Stephanie when it gets cold. Five days after the IV infiltrate the doctors put a main IV line into Stephanie. This was the most difficult time because Amy had come home from the hospital, and Stephanie’s condition was deteriorating. I was torn between being at the hospital and caring for Amy and our four-year-old son, Christopher.
After this surgery, her development was smoother. Stephanie’s biggest setback from extended time in the Neonatal Unit was her lack of human touch. Her arms were tied down, and she very rarely was removed from the incubator. Stephanie reacted to human touch with a startled response. Her hands were unable to come to midline.
The first two years were filled with doctor appointments and visits to many therapists. At Meeting Street School the therapists would not only work with the girls but also gave me activities to do at home. I felt this training helped reinforce the skills they were working on. Once Amy and Stephanie began Child Find Preschool, I was left out of the loop, and home reinforcement was not as consistent.
In grade 1, Stephanie started to blossom while Amy started to struggle. Unfortunately, it took two years, but Amy was finally diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia and visual fine motor difficulties. Her strength being audio, I hooked her up with books on tape. She became an avid reader. While listening to books on tape, Amy trained her eyes to read from left to right. Amy’s visual fine motor difficulties affected her handwriting so much that even she could not read her own handwriting. She used an Alpha Smart to overcome this problem. She and her father took keyboarding at adult night school to become more proficient in typing.
Amy learned how to use technology to overcome her weaknesses. She took advantage of special education services throughout high school and became an excellent student. She has been involved in the Barrington Theater Company, and she works at an assisted living home as a waitress. She volunteered at Greenlock horse farm to help disabled children as they ride horses. Amy’s academic struggles have made her very sensitive to other children with disabilities. Amy has developed into a responsible young lady. She will be attending Keene State College in the fall.
Stephanie’s first couple of years in school went very smoothly. She learned to read and was a whiz at basic math facts. She started to develop some difficulty with abstract reasoning and breaking down large assignments into small steps. Stephanie continued to show signs of anxiety and seemed to get overwhelmed with schoolwork. At home we managed to help her work through her anxiety, break down assignments and organize her time so that she was successful in school. Eventually, this became a full time job, and we needed some professional help.
Stephanie loves sports. She is a very active person. She would often use activities to help her study. One example is when she was trying to learn the European countries and the capitals. We wrote the names of the capitals on our basketball court. When given the name of the country she would dribble a basketball to the spot with the name of the capital, shoot the basketball into the basket, and dribble the basketball to the map and identify the country on the map. I used many of these types of activities to motivate Stephanie to study. She needed no outside motivation to work hard at basketball. She played for hours. At age 8, she won the Rhode Island Elks free throw shooting contest and competed in Springfield at the New England regional contest. She was a member of the Barrington High School girls’ basketball team for four years. Stephanie is a receptionist for a local chiropractor and will be attending Nichols College this fall.
Submitted by Diane and Willie Gempp