Steve Walfish has three children, two boys ages 16 and 17 years and a 21 year-old daughter, Emily. Emily never walked or talked. She is not toilet-trained, cannot self-feed, and is totally dependent. She has Rett Syndrome, a neurological disorder that to date has occurred only in females. Development is normal up to about six to eighteen months of age. A period of stagnation or regression follows, during which the child loses purposeful use of the hands, replacing it with repetitive hand movements which become almost constant while awake.
Rett Syndrome (now called Rett Disorder) causes severe mental retardation and physical handicap. There is no known cause, treatment or cure. Emily’s mother abandoned the family leaving my brother with three children to care for. He has worked two full-time jobs and been the primary parent to all three kids.