Robert and Heidi Fish of Union already had three children under the age of six when a friend called asking for a favor. Her friend had agreed to foster an infant with special medical needs, but she was in California and the baby had been born. Could Heidi help and foster him for a few days till her friend returned home?

“As we drove up our driveway bringing Arthur home from the hospital, I already knew we’d never let him go anywhere else,” Heidi said. Arthur had been diagnosed with a chromosome disorder called 22Q or DiGeorge Syndrome, so they had an idea what challenges might lay ahead. Developmental delays and abnormalities of the face structure are typical. Arthur also needed several heart surgeries—his first at age six weeks.

Arthur is ten now. His physical health problems have largely been resolved. He has learning delays with “splinter skills,” so he is excellent beyond his years in some things and deficient in others. He is in the fifth grade, studies theater with the Northern Illinois Special Recreation Association and participates in Challenger bowling and Challenger baseball.

His greatest accomplishment is communication. Two years ago, in preparation for a medical test that required him to speak different sounds while doctors viewed inside his neck with a scope, Heidi searched for someone to give Arthur speech therapy. Pediatric Speech Therapist Lisa Kubelka of Swedish American Hospital in Rockford, began working with him to prepare him for that test. He did so well that his test went better than doctors had ever seen with a 22Q child. He wanted to do more. So he has been working with Lisa and his mom with the goal of being able to speak clearly and be understood by others. “He works so hard and is aimed at his goals. He enjoys each time we reach a new milestone. I love Arthur!” Lisa enthused.

So do his parents, his big brother, Isaiah, his big sisters, Isabella and Rebecca, and the family dog, Samson. “He’s a joy,” Heidi commented. “It hasn’t always been fun, but it has always been worth it. We know we were called to be his parents. Arthur is making all of us better people. He brings out empathy and grace in others.”

If you meet this young Union resident, he would love to practice his speaking skills with you. If you take the time, you’ll be glad. Arthur Fish has important things to tell us.v

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