Raising Nathan

My son has a rare genetic defect called Angelman Syndrome, which affects his intellectual development, his speech, even his ability to walk.

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Published in Canadian Living in September 2008

By Mary Vasilak (as told to Anne Bokma)

When I first meet Nathan Vasilak, 17, he greets me with a wide-open smile. He toys with his beloved transistor radio, but his fingers don't have the dexterity to find a music station. His father, John, 57, reaches over and fiddles with it.

"He just loves listening to music," says John, as the sound of the Beach Boys singing about California surfing fills the room. Nathan responds excitedly and reaches over to tug at my arm.

Within minutes, he has his head on my shoulder, eyes closed, rocking back and forth to the music. For most people, it takes months to develop this kind of intimacy, but for Nathan, offering instant warmth and physical affection is as natural as breathing.

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