Wausau medical student helping out parents with special needs children

Published: Sep. 15, 2020 at 6:13 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - A child with special needs can require extra attention. A medical student in Wausau is trying to give parents information to help them.

“We had to pull our reigns back and realize that we couldn’t go on these different big vacations. We couldn’t be involved in so many different sports with so many different kids,” Kelly Poole, a mother of a Down syndrome child, said.

For her, it’s a daily challenge.

“If I had 5 kids and the youngest was 9, I would be doing a lot more things, but now it’s like still having a 2 or 3-year-old,” Poole explained.

Poole’s daughter, Vanessa, is 11 years old. She has Down syndrome and autism. The autism diagnosis didn’t even come until she was 8.

“People, even some of her teachers were like ‘yeah, she probably has autism, too.’ And I was like, ‘why wouldn’t you tell me,'” Poole explained

That’s why Satchel Beranek, who has a brother with Down syndrome, is trying to help parents like Poole through Gigi’s Playhouse in Wausau.

“Parents of course know their child better than anyone,” Beranek explained.

📌Have you put our Parent Education Session on your calendar yet? Sunday Sept 20th at 6pm! WHO should attend: 💙 Any...

Posted by GiGi's Playhouse Wausau on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Beranek sees a gap in screening of some patients. That’s why he’s hosting a virtual informative session this Sunday.

“As a physician, especially in a rural area, you’re not going to see that many patients with Down syndrome,” Beranek said.

The lack of experience can lead to care missed.

“By letting parents know kind of these rough guidelines of things that they should be looking for, it can help improve their involvement in their child’s life as well,” Beranek said.

It’s care that he’s trying to give families like the Poole’s, who despite the hectic household, love it.

“I wouldn’t want anything different,” Poole explained.

To RSVP to the session, you can email Satchel at

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