Building a Legacy of Love One Hug at a Time


Avery Vasta is a preschooler at Central Primary in Gonzales. When she hears music, she has to stop and dance, and she’s free with hugs and kindness, making her a favorite at school and everywhere she goes. She loves Moana and Elena of Avalor. Avery, who is five, is different in only one way. She has Down Syndrome.

Avery is in a regular PreK class, and her mom, Kayla, says the inclusiveness is the best thing ever. “Her peers love her, and they’re amazing with her,” Kayla says. “She’s taught them a lot.”

Emery, Avery’s big sister, is six and a first grader at the same school. “Emery doesn’t know there’s anything different with her sister,” Kayla says. “We treat them both the same.”

Avery learned to walk when she was three, and such developmental delays are typical with Down Syndrome. “She’s going to do everything in her time, and she’s going to reach her milestones in her time,” Kayla says. In her work as a parent ambassador with nonprofit Upside Downs, Kayla encourages families: “They’re going to do it in their own time, and you are going to appreciate it so much more.”

Discovering Avery’s condition happened early in Kayla’s pregnancy and was a scary time in the family’s life. Marshall St. Amant, MD, walked with Kayla and her husband, Thomas, during the high-risk pregnancy. Kayla remembers Dr. St. Amant saying, “Avery’s journey had already been determined by God, and we had to just walk the path.”

With a blood test, they found out Avery had an extra copy of chromosome 21. Trisomy 21, commonly known as Down Syndrome, is compatible with life and is the most common chromosomal anomaly. About 5,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome in the U.S. each year.

Kayla was monitored throughout the rest of her pregnancy. “We watched, and every ultrasound, things got worse before it got better,” she says. The possible heart problems and other complications led them to prepare for palliative care after the delivery.

Once Avery was born, she was OK. “Her heart was completely normal,” Kayla says. “We were just left with an extra chromosome.” Avery is still healthy. She wears glasses and is in the process of getting hearing aids. Her ears are her main concern, and she’s had eight sets of tubes already.

Avery can sometimes attract stares from other kids, and Kayla wants them to know, “It’s OK. She’s just like you, she has Down Syndrome.” Kayla encourages questions instead of stares and says special needs parents don’t get offended. “It’s OK for parents to teach their kids about special needs.”

Avery is a natural in front of the camera as a brand representative for Matilda Jane Clothing and a Baton Rouge Parents Magazine 2018-19 Cover Kid. “I’m proud of her. I’m proud of everything about her,” Kayla says.

Avery is building a legacy of love, starting in her family and reaching out to everyone she meets. “Avery’s teaching us most about how to love,” Kayla says. “She’s taught us a whole lot about patience and love.” ■

Reviews

1 Review
Sheila
Mamou, LA
Building a legacy of Love

I love the article and the picture. She is a bundle of love. Early ultrasounds are not always correct! She is adorable!d

June 2019

Did you find this review helpful?

0

29 May 2019


By Mari Walker

Recent Articles more articles

Rolling with the Good Times: Navigating Baton Rouge’s Mardi Gras with Kids

in Things To Do, Ellen Mecholsky

When my husband and I moved to Baton Rouge, we had absolutely no idea about Mardi Gras. I mean, sure, we had heard of “Fat Tuesday” and had the vague sense that beads were involved, but the Louisiana Mardi Gras EXPERIENCE was a complete unknown. That

Valentine’s Day: The Holiday I Love to Hate

in Holidays, Family Life, Amy Delaney

When ranking the best holidays, Valentine’s Day has always been near the very bottom for me. My love/hate relationship with this lovely holiday began way back in high school. I was never the girl with lots of admirers, so I remember the flowers, cand

Don’t Look Down!

in Toby Comeaux, Health and Wellness, Things To Do, Family Life

This past Thanksgiving, we took a trip to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee with our kids so that they could experience the mountains and also to get away for a holiday, something which we really have never done before as a family. It ended up being such a fun

Mardi Gras May Be Near, but Flu Season is Still Here

in Health and Wellness, Sponsored Content

While driving to work one morning this week, a local radio DJ described Louisiana's four seasons as football, hunting, Mardi Gras, and crawfish. While this is undeniably true, those of us who work in healthcare, particularly in pediatrics, tend to re

Featured Listings more listings

Family Christian Academy

in Private Schools

FCA is a non-profit, non-denominational private school organized in 1983 as an extension of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries for students K4-12.

Newsletter