June 22, 1996

Dear Friends of the MSUD Family,

Hello! This letter is long over due! Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Jennifer Saunders, a 27 year old college student, and I work part-time at a local mall. I am a cart park attendant at Chris-Town Mall. I ask customers if they would like to park their valuables in a secured area while they shop, eat, get their vehicles, etc. This is a free service provided by the mall. I have been working at the mall for eleven months now.

As far as my education goes, I am currently attending Phoenix Community College this semester. I will get my degree in General Studies (A.G.S) in December '96 or May '97 - I'm shooting for December '96. I want to work in a hospital as a dietitian's assistant. I decided to go into this field due to the work experience program that I went through in my senior year in high school. I worked one on one with a dietitian at a local hospital for seven months. I learned how to do the 10-key, take diet histories of patients, Xeroxing copies of menu planners, and answering phones.

My grandmother was a diabetic for twenty years. During the last couple years of her life, I helped her with medication, meals, etc. I finally decided at that time what I wanted to do with my future. I can say she was an inspiration to me.

School has always been a challenge for me. I started going to school at three years of age. I was in and out of special education classes from preschool to high school. In college, some courses have been more of a challenge than others. I can actually say that I am an average student. I am currently carrying seven credit hours and holding a 2.5 GPA. I will transfer to Arizona State University or Ottawa University in January 1997 majoring in Human Services.

I am the eldest of four children of Patrick and Phoebe Saunders. I was born on July 4, 1968, in Phoenix, Arizona. I was a healthy baby for the first few days of my life. My mother and father were concerned about me because I was not nursing, sucking, etc. My parents admitted me into the hospital at eleven days old. I was flown to Denver to receive the proper treatment for maple syrup urine disease. I faced death six times, aspirated, and had two cardiac arrests. As a result, I have a very mild case of cerebral palsy due to the lack of oxygen to the brain.

The cerebral palsy was more apparent when I was a child than in my adolescent years. I received physical and occupational therapy from an early age until my sophomore year in high school. I never liked physical education until my first year in college, in 1987. Physical education was a challenge for me. I felt that the other children would laugh and tease me. There were a lot of my peers that did tease me and it did hurt me! It wasn't until my high school years that I felt accepted for who I was. I finally learned that those individuals who discriminate against me to this day have the problem, I don't.

I have overcome a lot of obstacles in the past twenty-seven years through family, friends, and my faith in the Lord. I believe that following your diet properly plays a major role in the lives of children with MSUD and their families. Diet control plays an important role in the way an MSUD child behaves.

Behavioral patterns can affect the MSUD child throughout his/her adulthood. Reasoning and proper judgement are the two major areas affecting behavioral patterns. This is why it is important for MSUD patients to watch their diets very closely. Do not feel embarrassed to eat in front of your peers. Tell your peers that your body has a low tolerance for certain foods, liquids, etc.

I have learned a lot from doctors, my parents and from attending MSUD Symposiums. My overall health is very good and I am working out on a daily basis by walking, lifting weights (light), playing volleyball, etc. I have not been seriously ill in 16 years. The only thing is that I've had two wisdom teeth pulled in January, 1996, and I did well. I'll be getting the other two extracted in a few months.

I have a younger sibling, Julia, who has MSUD, too. She was diagnosed at three days of age and is a graduate of Grand Canyon University, 1993 (Communications Major). She is currently working full time. My youngest sister and brother, Jacquelyn and Patrick (Packy) do not have the disorder and yet, they could be carriers. Hopefully, they are not.

I feel that individuals who have MSUD can live a normal life and succeed in whatever they do. May the Lord richly bless all of your lives and I look forward to seeing you at the Symposium in 1998.

- Sincerely, Julia Saunders


The MSUD Family Support Group is currently funding several research projects and we are proactively looking for researchers interested in developing new treatments or finding a cure for MSUD. Significant funding is necessary if we are to accomplish this goal.
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