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Mother advocates for more conversations as part of Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month

Published: Mar. 3, 2022 at 5:30 PM EST
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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - Pointing to a picture on a cardboard collage of photos, Lula Bowyer remembers a favorite activity of her daughter Margaret Elizabeth Bowyer, known as Margie, from her younger days.

“This is a picture of her with her father at Smith Mountain Lake. Margie loved to swim. Still does. She loves the water.”

It was about that time in Margie’s younger years when Bowyer started searching for answers. When her daughter was born in 1977, Margie began developing slower than other children.

“The doctors kept saying she was just slow developing and that she would be alright,” said Bowyer.

But her parents knew something was wrong.

“We went to doctors at the Kennedy Institute in Maryland. We went to Pennsylvania. We went to Charlottesville. No one could figure out what was going on with Margie,” said Bowyer.

It was while Margie was in elementary school in Bedford County that they got their answer.

“She was diagnosed with Rett syndrome,” said Bowyer. The neurological disorder is found predominantly in women and has a wide range of impacts.

Bowyer began advocating for others who found themselves in the same situation as her family.

Margie’s story is why Bowyer wants people to have more discussions about Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March. She says it’s especially important for parents who need answers today and to know help is out there.

“There’s so many parents out there who are desperately in need,” said Bowyer.

Margie lives in Lynchburg with Horizon Behavioral Health, where Bowyer says she’s loved and cared for.

“Margie loves it here. It’s her home,” said Bowyer.

“She has a smile that will light up the world,” said Amy Ferguson with Horizon. “It needs to be highlighted that there are services available in the community for individuals with developmental disabilities.”

And that’s how Bowyer returns to the collage of pictures, where she points to one of her favorite photos of Margie.

“The reason this one was put in the middle is because Margie has that special smile. She doesn’t often use it, but you can see that smile is very special,” said Bowyer.

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