dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com"/> dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com"/> Family moves back into home after ’07 fire; Mom searching for old TV/VCR combos for her autistic children | News, Sports, Jobs - SANIBEL-CAPTIVA - Island Reporter, Islander and Current
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Family moves back into home after ’07 fire; Mom searching for old TV/VCR combos for her autistic children

By Staff | May 20, 2008

By DREW WINCHESTER, “mailto:dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com”>dwinchester@breezenewspapers.com

A single Cape Coral mother and her family are putting their lives back together after a fire destroyed their home in January 2007.

Kelly Whalen and her four children are currently moving back into the reconstructed home and are looking for a few specialty items that have been impossible to find, her mother Christine Whalen said.

Before the fire each of Kelly’s autistic children had their own TV/VCR combinations mounted above their beds. The family is now looking for new TV/VCR combos to replace the units lost in the fire. However, it is having a terrible time finding replacements.

“The thing is, they’re moving into their house and the kids need them in each of their rooms, but I cannot buy them anywhere,” Christine said.

She sites the advent of new technologies that have pushed the TV/VCR units to the brink of extinction. For those who still have tons of videotapes, it is making the hunt very frustrating.

Christine added that she has seen DVD/VCR combinations, but at $300 a piece, they would not be able to afford new units for all three children.

She is hoping people who have embraced those new technologies would be willing to donate their old TV/VCR combos.

A lot of people, because of technology, are throwing them (TV/VCR combos) to the curb,” Christine said. “Maybe people, being they can’t use it anymore, would donate them.

Autism is a brain development disorder that impairs social interaction and communication, causing restricted and repetitive behavior in children. Because autistic children often need constant stimulus, the TV/VCR combos were a big help to Kelly.

They are creatures of habit,” Kelly said of her children. “They like to do the same things the same way every day.

Christine echoed her daughter’s sentiment.

You can’t change the routine because that messes them up. If you change the routine it messes them up completely,” she said.

Part of that routine will become much easier now that the family is finally moving back into their home. Kelly said that during those tumultuous months her children were “
totally out of whack,” especially her daughter who is more severely afflicted with autism. They lived in three different places during the transitional period.

Now they are returning home and the kids will even get their old rooms back.

It’s great to be back. It’s been so long. It looks good,” Kelly said of the house. “It’s nice to be home.

Christine said that after the fire “
people came out of the woodwork” with donations to help the family. The house was fully furnished by the goodwill of the community. All they need now are the coveted TV/VCR combos for the kids.

For those interested in donating a TV/VCR combo to Kelly Whalen and her family, contact Christine Whalen at 945-2054.