My Journey

  • February 3, 2002. The name Brady was officially chosen. The name came from the soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” as one of mom’s favorite characters, but dad would only agree to it if the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl and the quarterback Tom Brady won MVP. He said this before the Patriots even made the playoffs. The Patriots won their first Super Bowl, Tom Brady did win MVP, and Brady Karl McCarthy secured his name months before he was born.

  • May 14, 2002. 11:08 a.m. Brady was BORN. 8 pounds. 20.5 inches. Diagnosis of Down Syndrome at birth.

  • 2 months old. Brady nursed for a year, but his feedings needed to be supplemented by a bottle in order to help him gain weight. Because he had low muscle tone, Brady was fed with a special bottle to make it easier for him to suck the milk.

  • August 24, 2002. Baptism. St. Patrick’s Church in Bedford, NY.

  • 3 Months Old. Born with low muscle tone, physical milestones took longer for Brady. He had Early Intervention therapies. At 3 months, he was able to lift his head when on his tummy.

    At 4 months old, at his monthly check-up (while his pediatrician was discussing that he wasn’t able to roll over yet), he rolled over. Always up for a challenge. Brady was anemic, was put on iron supplements and started having trouble with constipation.

  • October 31, 2002. 5 months old. Brady had just started to eat baby food. He liked baby food peas, green beans and pears. He did not care for carrots. He was doing a lot of rolling over, a lot of babbling and loved to do raspberries. No words yet.

  • 6 months old. Brady was just starting to be able to sit up on his own. He was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism and was put on Synthroid. He started eating finger foods like Cheerios.

  • 9 months old. Brady’s sitting very well and starting the basics of crawling. He loves to giggle and play pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and where’s mommy’s nose. He can now say “Da Da.” Brady got his first tooth.

  • 11 months old. Brady loves watching Baby Einstein, The Wiggles and Disney Sing-Along Videos. He enjoys books about Clifford the Big Red Dog, Little Bear, and Spot. He doesn’t like to wear socks.

  • 1 Year Old. Brady has started to crawl. He is now saying “DaDa, MaMa, BaBa, NaNa, and RaRa.” When he plays peek-a-boo with his mother, Brady holds her hands to her face and puts his face right behind her hands so that he is right there when his mom opens her hands to peek-a-boo. He thinks that is very funny. His constipation has gotten worse and he has failure-to-thrive, which means he is anorexic. Despite getting sick often, he is a very happy child.

  • 13 months. Brady was diagnosed with Hirschsprung’s Disease, where part of his colon did not have nerve cells. He had part of his sigmoid colon removed in a Swenson Pullthrough Surgery. Though he got healthier after his surgery, he had constipation issues for years afterwards, resulting in many Emergency Room visits, and can still have occasional issues today.

  • January 12, 2004. 20 months old. Brady’s sister, Alexandra, is born. Brady is so good with his sister. He brings her blanket to her and holds her hand in the car. Alexx thinks Brady is very funny. He makes funny faces so that she will laugh. Alexx stares at Brady all day long and giggles.

  • 2 years old. Brady is able to stand up on his own. He can now say simple words like dog, duck, frog, cat, bird, tiger, turtle, music, yes, and again (for more). He loves to draw and play with blocks. Brady loves music. When he sits down to eat, he points to the radio and says “music.” He has already started dancing.

  • 2 1/2 years old. Brady starts walking.

  • November 30, 2005. 3 1/2 years old. Brady’s brother, Bailey, is born. Brady is very excited to have a baby brother.

  • May 14, 2006. 4 years old. Brady’s first birthday party with friends from his pre-school self-contained class. It is a pirate theme, as Peter Pan is his favorite movie. Not to mention his other favorite pirate from The Wiggles, Captain Feathersword. As an integral part of his world, his speech therapist and her young son, are invited to his party.

  • 5 years old. Kindergarten portrait. Brady was put into a self-contained class for kids with special needs. For the next few years, his family fought to get him included in a regular classroom with his peers. One of his teachers asked the parents why they wanted him included so badly, since he had no friends anyway. His mom would leave many of his early school CSE meetings in tears, but this never stopped them from their pursuit of an inclusive education for Brady.

  • 6 years old. 1st Grade. Still trying to move Brady into an inclusive classroom, his mom took this video to show Brady’s abilities to prove to his school’s IEP committee that he was capable of being included with his peers in class. Their response was they would not accept the video as evidence of his abilities. As far as they were concerned, they believed he could not count, sort, nor follow simple directions and still belonged in a self-contained classroom.

  • March 2010. 2nd Grade. 7 years old. Brady was diagnosed with Verbal Apraxia, which is a difficulty to motor plan the movements needed for speech. Through intensive speech therapy, including PROMPT therapy, Brady starts to learn how to coordinate placement of his tongue, lips, jaw, and breath along with pacing, in order to be able to start to improve his articulation. It will be a long and continuing journey for Brady. In the meantime, his inner actor is born, as he learns how to act out what he is trying to express in order to be understood.

  • 3rd Grade. 8 years old. Not wanting to settle for a self-contained class for Brady’s education, his family moved one town over for a more inclusive school experience, carrying two houses for a year until they could sell their old house, just to get him into a new school. To introduce Brady to his new class, his mom made a video for him to show in class, to make his peers feel more comfortable with him.

  • 3rd Grade. What a difference an inclusive school makes. With the right supports, Brady is able to participate, just like his peers, in a class presentation. He loves his new school and all his new supportive classmates. Changing schools was the best decision for Brady.

  • May 14, 2011. Brady turns 9 years old. This is his first birthday party in his new inclusive school. This is why Brady’s family carried two houses for a year, to move twenty minutes away into a new school district. For Brady’s prior teachers who asked why Brady wanted to be included in a classroom with his peers when he had no friends – this is why. How can you make friends with peers unless you are included with your peers?

  • 4th Grade. 9 years old. Brady presented a new video to his fourth grade class.

  • May 2012. 10 years old. Graduated Westorchard Elementary School (through 4th grade). Pictured here with his principal, Mr. Skoog.

  • May 14, 2013. 5th Grade. 11 years old. What a difference an inclusive school district makes. His classmates surprise him by decorating his school locker for his birthday.

  • Oct 2014. 7th Grade. 12 years old. In a meeting requested by his parents, to take Brady off of Alternate Assessment and put him on a track to get a high school diploma, his teachers tried to block this appeal.

    Brady’s school Speech therapist, Mrs. Kourakos, commented that she couldn’t say if Brady would even be capable of handling a job bagging groceries when he graduated and even though he had been doing well on his IEP goals regarding money, she would question if he even cognitively understood what money was for (though she had no evidence to believe otherwise – she just “felt like he probably wouldn’t get it”).  And she felt that using a calculator, word processor and an iPad for apps – in her mind, was proof that he had to rely on augmentative devices to get by. Mrs. Kourakos said in her opinion, she would classify him as being among the most cognitively impaired. When the Special Ed District Chair pointed out to her that students on Alternate Assessment referred to children who couldn’t feed themselves and needed perhaps to be diapered -Ms. Kourakos continued to say she understood that and still believed he would fall into that group.

    When the SE District Chair tried to explain to these teachers that keeping him on Alternate Assessment was like comparing Brady to kids who cognitively had trouble feeding themselves, Brady’s Special Ed teacher, Ms. Fontaines said, “yes, he needs someone to help him open his lunch thermos container” – they were confusing finger dexterity with the actual cognitive ability to feed oneself.   When once again the SE District Chair tried to point out the difference between Brady’s abilities and those on Alternate Assessment who needed full-time help just to function -Ms. Fontaines responded, “yes, he can’t be left alone even for a second” – even though the prior day he went to CCD (religious education) by himself, bused from the school to the church, on the crazy CCD bus filled with all his rambunctious peers, and was in an hour class that was taught by just a parent – without an aide – and “functionally” was fine.

    Luckily, the SE District Chair stood her ground and informed the group that despite their unfounded misgivings, Brady was still officially taken off Alternate Assessment and put on the track to receive a high school diploma. When Brady receives his high school diploma this June, those teachers will be receiving a picture from Brady holding the diploma that he never would have gotten if he had let their inherent bias stand in his way.

  • 8th grade. 13 years old. Brady’s graduation from Middle School. His mother was told by Brady’s middle school teacher that his upcoming high school teachers were not happy about hearing that Brady would be placed in general-ed Regents classes. They did not believe he would succeed – all before meeting him. But once again, Brady would prove them wrong.

  • November 2016. 14 years old. Brady’s first Photo Shoot for Hip-Kid a clothing store in town.

  • November 2018. Junior Year of High School. 16 years old. Brady is cast in his first big role, as Lieutenant Samuel, in his high school’s musical of Pirates of Penzance. His director, Jonathan Gellert, was the first director that looked at Brady as a serious and capable actor. Brady worked tirelessly to memorize his lines, blocking and dance routines. This role is Brady’s proudest moment to date and shows what is possible when someone believes in you.

  • March 2019. Junior Year of High School. 16 years old. Brady speaks in front of his school district’s Board of Education. He shares his story of how this year has gone for him and thereby showing how important inclusion in schools is.

  • April 2019. Brady appears in a Music Video. Brady’s video submission is chosen to open Rob Thomas’ One Less Day – Official Lyric Video.

  • May 14, 2019. 17 years old. Brady is participating in his high school’s Unified Basketball Team. This team is made up of students with and without disabilities. They play other local high school’s that also have Unified Basketball. This team gives students like Brady, an opportunity to participate in real games and not just exhibitions. One of his games was on his 17th birthday. The opposing team’s school made it special for him.

  • June 2019. Junior Year. 17 years old. Brady’s friend, invites him to her Senior Prom. He is lucky he had the opportunity to experience it, since his Senior Prom the following year is canceled due to COVID.

  • June 2019. Junior Year. 17 years old. Brady passes his state Algebra Regents Exam with a 75%, though his prior high school math teacher for two years, who was also the chair of the high school Special Ed department, told his mother that, in her opinion, there was no possibility Brady would ever even be able to attain a low-pass score of 55% . Brady proved her wrong.

    His high school’s math department chair, Mr. Benack, was so moved by this achievement, he wrote this email to his department.

    “Everyone who has ever met Brady McCarthy realizes he is an exceptional young man with an engaging smile, cheerful demeanor and a positive world view that sees the best in everything and everyone. Although I never had Brady as my student, I would occasionally say hello to him in the hall, to which he responded in a full and hearty voice as he hurried excitedly to his next class.

    When Brady first began attending Greeley,  no one ever questioned his dedication, hard work and perseverance in pursuing his daily tasks…and always with a bright and eager attitude of “let me try”.

     On Friday I was part of a team grading Brady’s Algebra Regents exam. His score of 75 is equal to or better than the score attained by several students who were in our standard or enriched algebra tracks.

     To be honest, I thought about holding Brady up as an example to my own students who struggle in math due to their own poor work habits, as if to say “Look at the challenges with which Brady has to contend; What’s your excuse?”. This would be an unfair comparison because it would be unreasonable to expect anyone to have the level of motivation and joy of learning I’ve seen in Brady.

     I am a better person for having known Brady, even if it was only peripherally in the hallways or watching him run up and down the basketball court or on stage in the production of “Our Town”, so happy to be part of a team with fellow students who welcomed and embraced him.”

  • Oct 2019. 17 years old. Brady is officially sworn in, by the New Castle town board as one of the original New Castle EPIC Ambassadors. The group’s mission is to promote inclusion within their community. This group was created for Brady by his mom to give him a platform to gain experience as an advocate and to raise his recognition in town.

  • October 2019. 17 years old. As an EPIC Ambassador, Brady is one of the Guest Storybook Readers at the Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival.

  • May 14, 2020. 18th Birthday. Brady’s high school friends wanted to celebrate his birthday with him despite the restrictions of COVID19, so they organized this surprise birthday car parade for him.

  • June 11, 2020. 18 years old. End of the year Wrestling Banquet. Brady is named as a Captain for Horace Greeley High School’s 2020/21 Varsity Wrestling Team.

  • June 20, 2020. 18 years old. Though he has 1.5 credits left to take before he gets his high school diploma, Brady attended his High School Graduation Ceremony with his Class of 2020. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the school puts on a car parade and a Drive-In Graduation.

  • September 2020. 18 years old. First day of Remote Learning (due to the pandemic) of his Super Senior Year. Though Brady participated in graduation last year with his class, he has one more high school year to finish up one science credit, in order to receive his high school diploma. He is also taking Economics and a Film Production Class.

  • Oct 2, 2020. Brady participates in a “Get Out the Vote” video campaign by the Westchester Independent Living Center.

  • Nov 3, 2020. Brady voted for the first time and helped elect the next President of the United States.

  • BRADY’S FUTURE. The sky’s the limit. He will continue to prove naysayers wrong. He hopes to be an actor. Have his own apartment. Have friends to go on vacation with. Get married. Spread joy. And continue to live his best life.

%d bloggers like this: