Silent Darkness Follow-Up: Update

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Three years ago, we met Liz and George, the parents of triplets, Zoe, Emma and Sophie, who have lived their life in silent darkness 24 hours a day. Liz and George were in need of specially-trained help for their disabled daughters.


Catch up on what you missed.

 

After their first appearance, and with the generosity of Dr. Phil viewers, The Dr. Phil Foundation was able to present a check to Liz and George for $270,000, to fund the intervenors who can teach the girls to communicate, like Anne Sullivan did for Helen Keller.

[AD]"I wish I could say that was the happy ending this family needed, but life isn't always perfect, and now Liz and George are facing new challenges," Dr. Phil says.

See what's happened since and how the triplets are now.

 

Liz tells Dr. Phil she feels guilty that they can't get their children what they need, even though they still have money in the triplet's trust.

Dr. Phil explains that intervenors are costly and hard to find in the U.S. It's a specialized skill set, and even though Liz and George can find intervenors in Canada, they can't get immigration officials to approve one to come stay with the family in Texas.

[AD]The stress of watching their girls lose what they've learned has taken a toll on their marriage as well. Liz says, "When we had the intervenors, we had help, and I could see changes daily. It just calmed me, made it easier for me to be a wife, rather than just someone who is constantly thinking about how to get the solution to this problem," she says.

George says he feels like a failure as a parent. "It's hard for me to come home every day and look at the situation, and look at my wife and my children and feel like I haven't been able to get it done, I haven't been able to continue what all of you so graciously started for us," he says.

Emma and Zoe are in need of the most help. Sophie's disabilites aren't as severe as her sisters, so she is more advanced. George and Liz explain that when Emma and Zoe were working with an intervenor, they made small improvements every day: They learned to dress and bathe themselves, to brush their teeth and comb their hair. They initiated signing, fed themselves and stopped playing with food at the table. They were able to go on daily outdoor activities. They were potty trained. They were learning the alphabet and feeling Braille, and their tantrums completely stopped.

[AD]Keep in mind, these girls are not mentally disabled. They are smart girls who just needed to be taught in the same way Helen Keller was taught. Dr. Phil stresses the fact that the girls were learning to sign, which meant they were finally communicating from the silent darkness that has been their world.

 

In the past two years, without an intervenor, Emma and Zoe have only learned seven new signs. They've become unmotivated to sign, they don't dress or bathe themselves, they don't brush their teeth or comb their hair anymore. They are back to wearing diapers and haven't learned to read Braille. It's been heartbreaking for Liz and George to watch their girls lose everything they had learned with an intervenor.

Dr. Phil introduces Lynda Goetz, an expert in the field of deafblindness, who has dedicated her life to working with children just like the triplets. She has even gone as far as India to work with these special needs kids. Lynda is a certified teacher of the deaf, a certified teacher of the blind and visually impaired, a certified orientation and mobility specialist and a deafblind educator specialist " she trains intervenors.

[AD]Lynda says in the U.S., intervenors are an almost unrecognized field, it's so new. Although there are 75,000 to 100,000 deafblind people in the U.S., 20,000 of whom are children, there is no support system for them yet, which is why Liz and George were looking for help in Canada. "There are deafblind programs in every state, and one goal of the deafblind program is to begin more intervenor training programs, but we're still in a phase of recruiting people to be trained. So, in the meantime, our deafblind kids are getting older, and time is an enemy," Lynda says.