Kid Captain: Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner’s (Dyersville, Iowa) parents realized their daughter wasn’t meeting developmental and behavioral milestones, but couldn’t find answers until they reached out to University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.
“She didn’t typically act like a kid that age,” recalls her dad, Jesse. “She seemed like her behaviors were just a little abnormal.”
Aubrey’s mom, Rachel, noticed issues when Aubrey was 4.
“I first started having some concerns about Aubrey when she would just start acting out,” Rachel remembers. “She would just have really bad outbursts, couldn’t sit still, always bouncing around, couldn’t focus on one activity at a time.”
When she started preschool, Aubrey’s teachers also expressed concerns.
“Her teacher (asked me) if she had a learning disorder or if there was something wrong with her. I didn’t know at the time,” Rachel says. “I knew she wasn’t where she was supposed to be at with her peers, but what really got to me was when her kindergarten teacher came to us during parent-teacher conferences and said ‘Aubrey is not where she’s supposed to be. She’s behind her peers.’ When she showed me the graph of where her peers are and where Aubrey is, it was unbelievable. She was so far behind.”
Aubrey’s parents didn’t find answers with her local doctors.
“I told them about what was going on with Aubrey, and they said there wasn’t much more that they could do for her,” Rachel recalls. “I knew I wanted to go somewhere where Aubrey could get the help she needed.”
Finally, she reached out to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital and set up a developmental and behavioral screening appointment for Aubrey.
“I knew that if she came to UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, she’d get the best help she needed,” Rachel says. “You don’t understand unless you have a kid that’s like Aubrey how difficult it can be. I knew going in there that day that she’d get the answers she needed. She saw a whole team of doctors and they tested her. They answered our questions for us.”
Aubrey was diagnosed with a learning disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD,) oppositional defiant disorder (ODD,) mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, anxiety disorder, and speech sound disorder.
“We felt relieved and a little more stress-free because we got a diagnosis. At least then we could try to treat it, and pinpoint it with medication,” Jesse says. “She just seems like a totally different kid. She used to just kind of start something, and she wouldn’t finish it. Now she will start a project, and she will finish it.”
“Since coming here, Aubrey has done a lot better in school — 100 percent better,” Rachel adds. “Her teachers have told me that they see a major change in Aubrey since she started coming to (Iowa City). It is a complete turnaround, because she’s on the right medication. Without the treatment plan, she would not be where she is today.”
Her medical journey will be lifelong, but today, Aubrey enjoys riding her bike and hopes to become a veterinarian someday.
“She gets bullied sometimes, but at the end of the day, she knows that those kids don’t understand her, and she will always come back with a smile on her face,” Rachel says. “My hopes and dreams for Aubrey as she grows up is that she can become the person who she wants to be and that no one undermines her capabilities.”