At just 35 weeks, in utero, RJ was diagnosed with a Congenital Heart Defect, a severe but rare heart disease, Transpositioning of the Great Arteries and other additional defects including Tricuspid Atresia, Hypoplastic Right Ventricle, Multiple ASDs, and VSD. All too much to take in with only weeks until he was born. At only five days old, RJ had his first open-heart surgery. At 4-½ months, his lung collapsed, and he had his 2nd open-heart emergency surgery followed by his 3rd surgery at 2-½ years old. He would go on to have 19 more procedures in his early childhood days. From feeding tubes, learning to gavage, resuscitate, read stats, this was all just the least of what we had to learn to bring him home. After 2 ½ years, he got diagnosed with Autism, Chronic Gastrointestinal issues, and a compromised immune system. Any language obtained was gone. The level of medical care he needed didn’t even come to question. I dived in and acclimated.
As a mother, I never embraced or welcomed pity as someone else’s kid was dying of cancer or struggling without parents, and had it worse than RJ. I persevered.
He worked hard to gain his language back through Facilitated Communication (Supportive Typing). It wasn’t until RJ was 12 when he was able to type “He loved me too much.” And said, “now you know I am smart and not what others perceive me to be different.” I cried what seemed an ocean amount tears that day, a day I’ll never forget.
Fast forward to today – RJ has got a story, but he also has a life. I, as his mother, will never fail him! A loving father and sister who adore him, and I will advocate for him until my last breath. RJ is the inspiration behind The Zsido Ranch. I want to help the autistic community as they become adults. I want them to have a sense of kindship so that they can continue to have a purpose and a life, and give parents the hope and help that they need so they can focus on the most important thing of all – loving their children.