If grandparents are the footsteps to the future generations, then Robert Haggard’s grandfather certainly helped guide him in a positive direction when, at age 14, Robert began experiencing tremor in his hands and fingers.
“My grandfather also had ET,” Robert says, “and I grew up with his examples for coping skills. It was normalized for me. He also taught me to do with what you got….that I have to accept ET but not succumb to it.”
Now 44, Robert says his ET is worsening, but he is quick to add that patience and smart persistence are his allies.
“My coping skills and personal accommodations, or ‘workarounds,’ are helpful in accomplishing tasks and goals on a daily basis,” he says. “My timeframe is just longer to meet some obligations like writing, texting, or typing, and I defer from some tasks like taking impromptu photos for people. It is noticeable, so I am continually coming to terms with my ET symptoms.”
Based in Chicago, Robert has worked in a range of occupations and jobs, from trading stock options to cosmetology. For the past two years he’s been a peer-recovery crisis counselor on the clinical staff of a Chicago community mental-health center.
“We are a year and a half into a pilot project,” he says. “I work with a talented team and enjoy helping people work through personal crises, and referring them for community resources. Our program has been a great success as an alternative to emergency departments, is free to clients, and is saving tax dollars on each visit when people are served. Work is very rewarding and I want to help provide more resources that make sense and help humanity in some small way.”
Robert doesn’t let ET dampen his enthusiasm for a wide array of interests that include travel, music concerts, camping, computers and technology, art, photography, electronic graphics, and advocacy. He volunteers for several organizations, including the IETF and the American Red Cross.
“Participating in this ET video was important to me for a number of reasons,” Robert says. “Life is a journey full of learning and wonderment for me. I was taught to, ‘…do the right thing, because it is the right thing to do.’
“I feel that there is a great reward in helping others and advocacy. If this video is helpful in someone’s processing of ET, then all the better! I had my grandfather to help me and model coping skills. Maybe others can find some of that support through IETF. Hopefully people will be super supportive and better understand a great portion of people in our society. I also hope there is funding for much-needed research on ET.”
One imagines his grandfather would heartily approve of Robert’s passion, and his path.