Cameron Ware, 9, eagerly awaited the arrival by mail of “GameStop” gift cards he had earned through his participation in Akron Children’s Hospital’s nationally-recognized Comprehensive Behavioral Interventions for Tics (CBIT) program. He checked the mailbox again and again but his letter from Akron Children’s was not there.
Cameron began asking him mom, Shana Ware, a lot of questions about the U.S. Postal Service, mail delivery and the hospital’s mailroom. How does it work? What does the mailroom look like? Did my letter get lost?
To develop such a laser-like focus on a particular topic is one of the endearing aspects of Cameron, who relies on pediatric psychologist Dr. Katrina Lindsay and the CBIT program to help him manage his tics and other symptoms of Tourette Syndrome.
It’s not uncommon for Dr. Lindsay and her department secretary, Katie Elliott, to go out of their way for patient families so they quietly began to place calls to see if Cameron could get a private tour of Akron Children’s mailroom. It seemed like the best way to get all of his questions answered.
Service delivery manager Yvonne Clemon invited Cameron, his trusted plush kitty, White Fluffy, and his mom into the mailroom, which is located near the orange elevators on the hospital’s third floor. Within a few minutes, he was operating a postage machine.
“Wow, that was fast!” he said, as a quick touch of a button sent stamped envelopes flying down a conveyor belt.
He then inspected the wall of mailboxes assigned to each hospital department, looking for the “NeuroDevelopmental Science Center,” where Dr. Lindsay and Elliott work.
He inspected boxes, and took note of the tools of the trade: bins – lots of bins, paper clips, tape, scissors, and rubber bands.
“Cameron often tells friends and family about his visit to the mailroom,” said Ware, a week after the visit. “Everyone made him feel very important and special and that has stuck with him. He will definitely remember that day.”
Ware said so much good has come out of Cameron’s participation in CBIT. She said the program has given her a better understanding of the brain science involved with Tourette Syndrome and has made her a more confident parent. Cameron has learned valuable skills on how to recognize and manage his tics.
“Dr. Lindsay is magic, truly,” said Ware. “She is such a powerfully helpful and supportive person. And I was so thankful that I was finally able to meet Katie. It was hard to hold back the powerful urge to hug her. Honestly, it just makes me teary thinking about that because of my countless calls and emails back and forth with her have meant so very, very much to me.”
And, as if the trip to the mailroom could not be topped, it was.
At the end of the visit, mailroom employee Paul Hirschfelt and Clemon walked Cameron to the Hospital Gift Shop to buy him a toy that had caught his eye.
His new “claw grabber” could, of course, help retrieve the family mail. But it could also yield endless possibilities of fun for boy always reaching out, open to learning and happy to make new friends.