When Emily Grace Madore was born on April 21, 2007, she seemed like a perfectly healthy baby in every way. But as time progressed, her parents would learn that Emily would experience a number of challenges and complications in her life. First, it was low muscle tone. It took her much longer than expected to learn how to walk, and she would get tired easily as a toddler.
As Emily got older, she went through nearly every test imaginable – MRI, CT scan, genetic testing, etc. – and was eventually diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, on the autism spectrum, and a gene mutation called POLG1, more commonly known as Mitochondrial disorder. And more recently, she was diagnosed with Cone-Rod Dystrophy, a progressive disease affecting her vision, for which she needs strong prescription glasses.
But through it all, Emily is the sweetest and most fun-loving girl. She began her education as a Kindergartener in public school, but they were not prepared for her academic needs. The principal there at the time was not accommodating, and almost made Emily’s parents feel like a bother or inconvenience. Emily was then enrolled in the St. Anthony School Program at St. Thomas More Catholic School, where she is now in 5th grade and has three sisters at the school as well.
At St. Anthony, Emily has made slow and steady progress both academically and practically. At one point in time, we wondered if she would ever be able to walk, have full conversations, and play with her friends. But now, she is very social, loves playing with her best friend Ivy, is learning how to read, and is an example of good behavior in the classroom. When she was in public school, she would come home crying every day. But now, she is all smiles and looks forward to every day at school. The Catholic environment of St. Thomas More is a great benefit, as she continues to grow and learn as much as she is capable of learning.