Suzanne Laborde

Profile Updated: October 22, 2014
Suzanne Laborde
Suzanne Laborde

Now

Suzanne Laborde

Yearbook

Yes! Attending Reunion
Residing In: Louisville, KY USA
Occupation: Business/Computer/IT Consultant
Children: Marc Daniels, born 1972, is a professional entertainer, married to a wonderful doctor and has two lovely More…daughters.
Attending 50th Reunion Dinner/Dance (10/18/14)

No

Comments:

At the University of Chicago I initiated and finalized the publication of the first teaching materials for dyslexic students. Additionally, I raised the bar on our adult literacy publications. Since that time, I have worked as a business research consultant in fourteen states for major corporations, universities and continue to this day. My life has been endlessly varied and enjoyable. I know that I didn't know many of you well, but I have always valued the academic preparation I received at Rich East. It saddens me to see the low rate of academic excellence and college attendance for current students of Rich East.

My sister, Becky, was graduated from the Grant School of Nursing in Chicago and worked for many years as a psychological/substance abuse counselor. My brother, Randy, became a renowned behavioral psychologist specializing in early intervention of autistic children. He and his wife, Andrea (a renowned, top traumatic brain injury specialist), currently reside in Tasmania, Australia, after moving from Wellington, New Zealand, and after moving after several decades in Philadelphia.

School Story:

Our family moved to Park Forest in November 1959 with my sister, Becky (was graduated 1965 from Rich East), and me attending Blackhawk Junior HS, and my brother, Randy (was graduated 1969 from Crete-Monee HS), attending Sauk Trail Elementary. As a new kid on the block, I threw myself into the school newspaper, since my family had previously owned a weekly newspaper in south Texas from where we had just moved. We had moved many times during our lives prior to that because of my father's job as a management consultant. As a result, I had embraced the, "Bloom where you're planted," philosophy for coping with new situations that continues today.

In January 1960, my youngest sister, Beth, who was only 4 months old, became critically ill with meningitis. The rest of us were in quarantine for a month, and had been sick prior to that, with or without meningitis we will never know since we were never diagnosed. Six months earlier, I had survived rheumatic fever. Beth was probably the perkiest and brightest of all our parents' children prior to her illness, but was trying to catch up to her developmental targets during her recovery with learning to sit up, talk and overcome her left side paralysis. When she was approaching the age of two, her pediatrician told us that she needed to complete her DPT injection regimen. Decades later, we now know that 1 in every 300,000 children injected are rendered mentally retarded by the pertussis fraction (whooping cough) of the DPT load. After that, she was experiencing up to 35 grand mal seizures per day. We never left her alone 24/7/365. Without a very good excuse, we were always required to come straight home from school to help with her various physical therapy regimens and household chores. We sought endlessly for answers and improvements, largely to no avail. Originally, we were told that she probably would not live past the age of 14, which we found devastating. However, the doctors of the time were wrong, she just celebrated her 55th birthday, attends daily interactive therapies and resides in a group home for mentally challenged adults in Louisville, Kentucky, where I also reside. Though she cannot walk nor talk, nor recognize any of us, and still experiences grand mal seizures which have resulted in numerous bone breaks, she is happy, otherwise healthy, and still enjoys music.

Outside of school, my parents and I became active members of the Council for Handicapped Children, and later developed the Happy Day Sheltered Workshop until 1969. During high school, my sister, Becky, and I hosted monthly parties for mentally challenged young adults, which were well-attended by scores of people and greatly appreciated by their parents, since our efforts were the only social activities available for them for all of Chicago's southside. During the summer break, my sister and I also worked as counselors at the city's Handicamp organization which was open to any and all children of any and all handicaps, physical and mental. The camper/counselor ratio was 1:1. It was well-attended and well-managed. Another summer, we worked as counselors at the overnight camp for people (mostly male youngsters) with Muscular Dystrophy. It was in Palatine, Illinois (up north). Even though it was held in June, it was cold, in the 30s, at night with no heat in our drafty cabins. The ratio, once again, was 1:1. We all knocked ourselves out for the two weeks of camp to provide a happy and memorable time for the campers, many of whom sadly did not survive to the next summer. We were able to form many long time friendships with fellow counselors. In retrospect, it is wonderful that we did this then, and truthfully, without undue attention to liability, everyone, counselors and campers alike, came through unscathed. Nowadays, the first priority would be liability. It has saddened me on many occasions since then that liability concerns have thrown cold water on so many attempts to provide meaningful, safe, appropriate and best of all happy solutions while meeting needs.

The foregoing description of my sudden closure of my childhood describes why I did not know my classmates any better than I did. Very few of you knew anything about our situation. When I hear others talk about their great high school memories and experiences, I have been left sometimes with pangs of, "Why don't I have those?" However, my sister and I were band members for two years until home demands made that unmanageable.

I look forward to hearing about the 50th reunion from all those who were able to attend.

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We both live in Kentucky! How've you been?

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