Meet Kutter – Indiana

Social butterfly is one way to describe 10-year-old Kutter, because according to his mom, Christan, keeping a low profile or being a wallflower is just not possible when out and about with her son. Ten years after a medical mistake changed the course of Christan and Kutter’s path, the story of what could have been has turned into a story of love, ambition, and all that is possible.

At birth, Kutter suffered a traumatic brain injury resulting in a diagnosis of cerebral palsy and autism. Not prepared for this life change Christan had to immerse herself into a world of doctors, therapy and a new way of thinking. Feeling hopeless and lost, she found strength from others when Kutter participated in a therapy program located in Mooresville, IN. “I walked in the first time as a “broken mom” to a network of special needs parents that provided support and hope, only to find myself providing that same strength and guidance to new parents three years later”, Christan said.

Adjusting to this new lifestyle brought challenges Christan never imagined. An exhausting schedule of therapy appointments along with the behavioral and relationship work was only the beginning. When it was time for Kutter to enter the school system, things were not as easy to navigate, and the support for Kutter that Christan had hoped for was not just not there. Questioning whether home schooling was the right choice, during COVID, Christan got her answer. “God whispered to my heart. He said, you know you have it, just do it,” she said. So, after fighting a fight with the school, she never thought she’d be in, Christan shifted once again and brought Kutter home to be educated.

Starting from the ground up and back to kindergarten level, Christan found the tools she needed online. While nervous at first, she accepted this new journey and adjusted to provide Kutter what he deserved. Using her knowledge about her son and how he learns, and coupling that with programs like Hooked-on Phonics, Kutter is now reading and excelling faster than she ever thought possible. “Seems crazy, but it works!” she said about the Hooked-on Phonics cassettes. Sometimes the bitterness of what happened in the school still overwhelms her, however, she can now say it was blessing in disguise.

“Don’t let anybody put boundaries on your kid. They won’t see them like you do. You can see their potential so much more, and while they still have limitations, they are not as restrictive as those on the outside believe. Follow your “mom gut”, advised Christan.

On top of Kutter being an excellent student, he is a music lover and sings, plays the drums and gets around in his electric wheelchair he can navigate with a joystick. A few of his favorite activities include pumpkin or apple picking, and spending time with his dad at the sawmill as he loves anything with a motor. But it’s the simple things, like watching the cars go by from their front porch in their small town that is an everyday staple for both Kutter and Christan.

However, while the little things mean so much, “sometimes as a special needs family you can feel isolated”, said Christan, “which is why A Kid Again is an awesome organization!” Being a blended family of five kids ranging from ages 24 years to 7 months, things can surely get chaotic. And, according to Christan, “getting out of the house is so important.” After finding AKA online, Kutter and family have attended several outings, including the Birthday Bash Splash Waterpark, Colts game, and the Fort Wayne Zoo. “The extra hour drive to go to Fort Wayne was absolutely worth it, and we are so grateful to AKA.” Everything being wheelchair accessible, and equipped to provide clear visual for everyone, Fort Wayne Zoo was “one of the best trips!” said Christan, “we can’t wait to go on the next outing!”

Other than following your “mom gut” Christan’s advice for any parent of a special needs child is, “Do all you can, but try not to become a “therapy parent”. Sometimes it feels like you can’t just be a mom or dad and shedding the parental guilt thinking you can always do more for your child can be difficult. Try to let go of the bitterness the world can bring you and, just enjoy your kid. Hold them and watch a movie. Embrace those moments.”

As for Kutter, “He does his own PR”, laughed Christan, “for so long I was Kutter’s voice, and now I don’t have to be.” Even a stroll down the street will invite people to ask, “Is this Kutter?”, or express “We’ve heard about Kutter,” and they are elated to meet him and vice versa. Sweet and charming, there are many sides to Kutter, but it is obvious he definitely does not lack character or personality. He also does not lack drive, “He tries so hard at everything he does”, says Christan, “whether its therapy or his extracurriculars.”

On top of Kutter’s sweetness and “social bug” personality, according to Christan, he’s also quite the comedian. Once in the Starbuck’s drive thru, he asked his mom to roll down the window. After doing so Kutter proceeded to order meatloaf, and when Christan told him they didn’t have meatloaf, he laughed and said, “Oh silly me, I’ll have a cheeseburger”.

Kutter’s story makes you believe anything is possible and is one that includes challenges, courage, strength, perseverance, and one special ingredient that makes the story complete. The one ingredient that Kutter explained best after belting out the lyrics of James Taylor, “Mommy, I’m singing with my heart”.

November 2022

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