Moving Back, Moving Forwards

by Patricia S. Lemer, M. Ed., NCC, DDR Executive Director

With this issue, DDR celebrates its eighth anniversary. Three years ago, on our fifth, we hoped fervently that there would be no need for a tenth anniversary party. Thus "celebrates" is the proper verb, if we focus only on the great strides made during the past three years in understanding the relationship between health issues and developmental delays. Thanks to the relentless efforts of parents and professionals, many wearing both hats, we have removed toxic thimerosal from vaccines and learned more about strengthening the immune system and adding sensory therapies to maximize the chances for recovery.

DDR is proud to have been a part of an exciting odyssey since 1994. Our friends at the National Vaccine Information Center and I recently recalled a riveting discussion with Drs. Rimland and Baker at a DDR conference in Stamford, Connecticut in 1995. The topic was the possibility of vaccines impacting upon children’s nervous and gastro-intestinal systems. Dr. Michael Palmer, then a parent/physician and writer of medical thrillers, spoke of a future novel about a mega- vaccine. His dream is now a reality.

DDR is now at an important crossroads. So am I personally, as its Executive Director. After 35 years in private practice, I am retiring from the diagnostic work that I have so enjoyed to devote my full efforts to DDR. I will no longer do testing but will continue with occasional consultations. I will also travel to speak on behalf of the DDR mission to groups across the country. In my "retirement," I am moving from Maryland back to Pittsburgh, PA, where I grew up. Returning to my roots is both nostalgic and exciting. The hilly, dirty steel town of my youth has blossomed into one of the nation’s top "livable" cities, according to a recent survey. Replete with trendy craft shops, acupuncture clinics and Indian restaurants, it also still harbors traditional values, where families eat together and live near their relatives. A well-kept secret about Pittsburgh is its financial resources. Aluminum, steel, scrap metal and other large industries have built skyscrapers and top-notch cultural institutions. Melding the city’s money and its heart is the Pittsburgh Foundation, the umbrella organization for billions of dollars targeted to sustain organizations such as DDR.

My hope is that by moving myself and the organization, DDR can evolve from being barely self-sustaining to being financially sound. I have rented offices with The Family Wellness Center. After considering sharing space with both autism and children’s groups, it was clear to me that neither of those options covered the full scope of DDR’s mission. We are the ONE resource network integrating conventional and holistic approaches.

Being a part of an amazing group of people committed to a holistic, integrative approach to families and their health is clearly the right choice.My colleagues will be Dr. Franne Berez, a homeopathic physician who utilizes a variety of treatments for children and adults with chronic illness and autism spectrum disorders. Franne comes to DC to study with DDR member Jim Gordon at the Center for Mind Body Medicine. Serendipity that could happen only in a small town told me this union was meant to be. Franne and I grew up on the same street, a few blocks from the office, but did not know each other because of our age difference. I am very excited that Franne has added the DAN! Protocol to her tool chest. DDR will add books to her waiting room and library. Along with Franne comes an acupuncturist, a craniosacral therapist and other wonderful professionals. The office is being renovated with an eye to "green" materials to protect our chemically-sensitive clients.

The need to spread the word about exciting combinations of treatment for children with developmental delays has unfortunately not diminished. DDR still needs to be around for a few more years. Look back with us at how far we have come, and join us in celebration of recovering children. Join us too in looking ahead to a fruitful collaboration at the Family Wellness Center. And come see me on the corner of Beacon and Murray in Squirrel Hill, if you’re ever in "the ‘burg."

[Initially published in New Developments: Volume 7, Number 3 - Spring, 2002]

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