Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Teamwork-The Name of the Game at the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center: Few Football Fans Will Ever Forget Legendary Miami Dolphins' Quarterback Dan Marino's Ability to Lead His Team in "Come-from-Behind" Victories on the Field. Now Retired, Dan, His Wife, Claire, and Their Family Are the Moving Force Behind the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center. (Cover Story)

Magazine article The Exceptional Parent

Teamwork-The Name of the Game at the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center: Few Football Fans Will Ever Forget Legendary Miami Dolphins' Quarterback Dan Marino's Ability to Lead His Team in "Come-from-Behind" Victories on the Field. Now Retired, Dan, His Wife, Claire, and Their Family Are the Moving Force Behind the Miami Children's Hospital Dan Marino Center. (Cover Story)

Article excerpt

The idea for the Center came from the couple's own experience in trying to get treatment for their second son, Michael, when he was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and a half. "The goal for the Center is basically for families to come and get all they need in one place--information, treatments, and the doctors--instead of having to travel all over the country," says Dan.

The Marinos have very vivid memories of what they went through, starting with their concerns about Michael's development. Originally Claire thought that Michael had difficulty hearing because he was so quiet. Dan remembers, "He was very quiet all the time, especially when we put him up for a nap. Most kids cry for their mothers when they get up, but he would just sit there and play by himself." Claire agrees. "As a baby, Michael was content in his crib. He really wasn't interacting like his older brother had."

As time went on, they began noticing other things about their son that they would later find out were possible symptoms of autism. "He had one little yellow car that he used to play with all the time," says Dan. "He was fixated on that one toy only."

"My mom was a nurse and when she was visiting, she picked up on a problem with Michael," says Claire. "She suspected he had a hearing deficiency and suggested I have him checked." It was soon after that autism was diagnosed. Claire relates her and her husband's reaction as a mix of emotions. "Like any caring parents, we felt concern for our son; we were shocked, wanting to do everything possible for him. I didn't know anything about autism."

If she was unprepared at first, Claire soon educated herself and sought out help from specialists. "I drove Michael all over town and all over the country to get him the right treatment. I learned it was important for Michael to have the right treatments early that would give him the best chances." Dan and Claire noticed a problem with her son's doctors, however. They experienced the frustration of dealing with the complexity of medical services for children with developmental problems. "The people involved in his treatments were not coordinating or talking with each other," she says. I thought it would be great for parents to have everything in one place and to feel that everyone treating their child was on the same page. This is where the idea for the Center started."

THE DAN MARINO CENTER AT MIAMI CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL IS BORN

In 1995, the Marinos met with Roberto Tuchman, MD, to discuss how they could help enhance the services available to families with children with special needs. (which the Marinos had established a few years earlier to raise money for charities in South Florida). They decided it could be done, and through the combined efforts of Miami Children's Hospital and the Dan Marino Foundation, the Dan Marino Center at Miami Children's Hospital was opened in 1997. The goal was to provide a place for the comprehensive evaluation and treatment of children with special needs. In its first year alone, the Center treated 10,000 children. Now entering its fourth year, the Dan Marino Center provides services to approximately 30,000 children annually from all over the world. Located at Miami Children's Hospital, the Center is housed in a freestanding, 20,000-square-foot building in Weston, Florida.

All children with special needs are served. Specific problems that are addressed by the Dan Marino Center and Neurodevelopmental Evaluation and Treatment Team, also known as the Dan Marino Child NETT, include attention deficit disorder, autism and related disorders, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disabilities, mental retardation, and developmental and behavioral disorders in general. Specific services offered by the Center include psychological services, speech and language intervention, physical and occupational therapy as well as educational intervention. In addition to the above services there are subspecialists available for consultation in genetics; ophthalmology; ear, nose and throat; cardiology; dermatology; renal disorders; and urology. …

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