The 23-year-old Seattle woman has Tuberous Sclerosis. Thanks to the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center in Bothell, though, she fills her days with cooking, gardening, music and physical education. Oh, and she loves to sing … at the top of her lungs.
On a sunny Sunday afternoon in May, Kelley Fox, 23, and her mom, Leslie, sit in the front yard of their home in Seattle, playing music while Kelley sings.
Her favorites are bubbly Top-40 hits by Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake, along with Disney classics sung by princesses.
“She has an amazing memory, like, she loves music, she knows the words to all these songs,” Leslie says. “They’re not all perfect. They make me laugh sometimes, but she knows all the words,” the mom said, laughing.
Kelley has a rare genetic disorder called Tuberous Sclerosis and had her first seizure at 4 weeks old. She’s had two brain surgeries, including a full hemispherectomy, so she only has half a brain.
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“She may be developmentally 5½ or 6,” Leslie says, “but she has so much to offer, and she is such a happy person.”
Kelley attended Nathan Hale High School and did a school-to-work transition, but under law, adults with disabilities age out of the school system when they turn 21. Leslie was unsure how they would fill her time when that day came.
“So you have to start all over again,” she said. “Her father and I both work full time. Are we going to have to have full-time child care? She needs that structure and routine.”
Kelley started attending the Alyssa Burnett Adult Life Center in Bellevue (ABC) two years ago, where she does classes like cooking, gardening, music and physical education three days a week with her caregiver, Sharon Acacio.
Acacio has been with Kelley for 12 years and has seen a positive change since she started attending ABC, outside of just the skills she’s picked up.