GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 29

The bond that grandfather Mort and Gina had built during those first seven months of her life had created such a trust that Gina wanted her grandfather to be with her at every doctor’s visit and every test session. She clung to him regardless of her parents’ presence. On one visit, to ensure that hearing loss was not the problem, Gina was taken into a dark room with speakers in the corners. She would not enter the room without Mort. During the session, she sat on his lap, afraid of the dark but comforted by his arms around her. The test results showed her hearing was normal. An MRI followed. Gina would have to be sedated. Mort was at her side, holding her hand when she went to sleep and when she opened her eyes. Michelle and Dwayne wanted to be with her, but she only wanted her grandfather. The diagnosis was finally made: autistic spectrum disorder . “When we found out Gina was autistic, my wife and I wondered how bad it would be,” Mort said. “When they told us she might not talk, it was kind of like the bottom fell out. Half of me didn’t believe it because in all other aspects she seemed normal. She didn’t have any speech issues until she was almost 3.” Gina needed speech and occupational therapy. The sessions were long and constant. At one point Mort was told he would not be allowed in the room during the occupational therapy. It tore his heart out to see her scared expression as she was taken from him. “The therapy did wonders for her. One of the therapies was singing,” Mort remembers. “From the beginning she carried CLICK ON the notes, but you could hardly VIDEO CONTROLS understand the words. Then we TO PLAY noticed that as her singing got going, her speech got better.” Michelle, Gina’s mother, said, “When she was going for testing and was constantly in doctors’ offices, she wanted Grandpa. “If Grandpa didn’t play such a big part in her therapy, she wouldn’t have gotten as far as she has.” Then, in 2004, the family faced another tragic challenge. Barbara was diagnosed with lung cancer and died within 12 weeks. Mort was stricken, not only by the loss but also the suddenness. He asked himself, “What would Barbara have wanted me to do?” The answer was simple. She would want him to continue his special relationship with Gina. Gina Incandela’s talent—singing the National Anthem at major sporting events and appearing on the Today show—has been recognized nationally. The Orlando Magic basketball team calls her its “lucky star”—she sang them right into the NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers . And Grandpa Mort is always in the wings. “When I hear Gina sing, it puts me way past cloud nine,” Mort says. “The fact is when she was diagnosed, we wondered if she would ever talk. Looking at her now, it’s just amazing.” G Gina would not enter the testing room without her Grandpa. JULY 2009 GRAND 29
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-pervasive-developmental-disorders/index.shtml http://www.orlandosentinel.com/sports/basketball/magic/orl-orlando-magic-finals-info-060109,0,989997.story

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of GRAND Magazine - July 2009

GRAND Magazine - July 2009
GRAND View
Contents
GRAND Central
Grands Across the Sea
O, Say, Can You Sing?
Hear and Now
Ask GRAND
GRAND’s 2009 Sexiest Granddads
Nailing It
Reader's Write
Resources
GRAND Finale
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - intro
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Magazine - July 2009
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover2
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 3
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Contents
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 5
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 6
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 7
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 8
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 9
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 10
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 11
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 12
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Central
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 14
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 15
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 16
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 17
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 18
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 19
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 20
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 21
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Grands Across the Sea
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 23
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 24
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 25
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 26
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 27
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - O, Say, Can You Sing?
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 29
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Hear and Now
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 31
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Ask GRAND
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 33
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND’s 2009 Sexiest Granddads
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 35
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 36
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 37
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 38
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 39
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 40
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 41
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Nailing It
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 43
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 44
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 45
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Reader's Write
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 47
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 48
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 49
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 50
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 51
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 52
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Resources
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - GRAND Finale
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - 55
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover3
GRAND Magazine - July 2009 - Cover4
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