“The first week after Hazel was born, I knew something was off. At just five days old, I noticed she had an unusual twitch, and she kept arching her back,” explained Jennifer Marshall, who works as a nurse. “And she never, ever cried, even when I knew she was hungry.” At 6 months, Hazel was able to sit up, but she wasn’t hitting other milestones, such as rolling over or babbling. Her doctor referred Hazel to Milwaukee County’s Birth to Three program, where she started receiving physical, occupational and speech therapies at home. “At that point, I did what you’re not supposed to do. I started Googling things like ‘blue hair, blue eyes, happy, and loves water’, and Angelman syndrome (AS) is what came up,” Jennifer said.

At her one-year check-up, Hazel’s doctor was surprised by the severity of her delays and recommended her for genetic testing. She was officially diagnosed with AS at age two. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Angelman syndrome is a genetic disorder….People with [AS] often smile and laugh frequently, and have happy, excitable personalities.” As her older brother, Auggie, said to Jennifer, “I just love that Hazel has Angelman syndrome because she’s so fun!” Once again, Jennifer turned to Google to look for child care. “I wanted to find a daycare that could manage her care, but I also wanted her to be around typically developing children,” she said “St. Francis Children’s Center was the best of both worlds!”

Today, Hazel is a happy, loving 4-year-old who loves to give hugs…even to strangers in the grocery store! Although her parents were told that she may not be able to learn certain skills, Hazel is walking, using her iPad to communicate, and she can identify colors, days of the week and more. “I’m in constant contact with SFCC staff to maximize learning for Hazel,” Jennifer said. “I can go to work during the day knowing that Hazel is getting the best of the best!”

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