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Valley mother, daughter thankful for SARRC

Posted at 2:53 PM, Dec 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-19 17:07:10-05

When Nicole Dees needs to break through to her daughter, she sings.

Her daughter Addison lights up when she hears music. Addison is just 7 years old and lives with autism.

Before she came to the Valley, singing was the only way Nicole could communicate with her.

"Addison only sang songs," Nicole said. "She would sing nursery rhymes, but she wouldn't speak, like she wouldn't say, 'I want food,' or 'I'm hungry' or anything like that."

Living in Yuma, Nicole soon discovered a shortage of therapists. She didn't have access to the services Addison so desperately needed.

In fact, she made the decision to move to the Valley, because of SARRC, The Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center.

Through the Jump Start Program, Nicole began to understand new ways to communicate with her daughter.

"She was able to calm down and tell me what she needed or wanted because of the frustration," Nicole said.

It's a remarkable accomplishment, considering Nicole is fighting her own battle.

A few years ago, she was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an inherited degenerative eye disease.

She is now completely blind. She's had to move in with family, and ask for help from Operation Santa Claus.

She says she's incredibly grateful, but also hopeful.

Despite their challenges, she sees a bright future for her daughter.

"I want her to be her own independent woman, a functioning adult among society. Respected, loved, engaged with her family and friends, and do the things she loves to do."