Dani Gardiner spent plenty of time in the principal’s office at school.
She wasn’t a bad kid.
In fact, she was one of the smartest students in class.
Gardiner’s problems occurred when she came to the defense of her brothers.
“Kids can be cruel,” said Gardiner, a Glendale resident. “I got into fights because my brothers were subjected to a lot of name-calling and teasing, and I was too, for being their sister.”
Gardiner’s three brothers, as well as her mother, all have Fragile X syndrome, a genetic condition that causes intellectual disability, behavioral and learning challenges.
Based on information from the Fragile X Foundation, the condition occurs in both genders, although males are more frequently affected than females.
Gardiner, 41, grew up in Utah, the second child in a family of six.
No one in the family had any idea about Fragile X.
“My mother has a milder form of the condition, so it’s not as apparent,” Gardiner said. In preschool, she said she played with her older brother, and no one knew he was affected by the condition.
Gardiner and her father do not have Fragile X, which scientists discovered in the late 1970s. Scientists identified the gene responsible in 1991.
School was the first place anyone noticed a difference in the learning skills of the children.
Gardiner’s oldest brother was placed in special education classes. The same thing occurred when her other brothers came to school.
“I like to say that my brothers are perpetually 10 years old,” Gardiner said. “My oldest brother is very talkative and repeats himself. My youngest brother is very quiet. All of them are loads of fun.”
The brothers share some behavioral traits consistent with autism.
For example, they have trouble with simple tasks, such as making change at the store.
However, they display great recall when it comes to childhood memories or scenes from old movies.
“They are great movie buffs and remember scenes in great detail,” Gardiner said. “I can’t remember what happened last week, and they remember everything.”
Gardiner stayed out of the principal’s office long enough to establish solid academic credentials. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State.
“I was always mature as a kid, but it wasn’t my family that motivated me,” Gardiner recalled. “I was more motivated by my cousins. “They didn’t have Fragile X, but they had issues...and some dropped out of school. I didn’t want to be like that, so that was my motivation.”
Nearly three years ago, Gardiner founded Profound Financial, a Glendale accounting, tax and business consulting firm.
Gardiner said her job and personal family experience have given her an appreciation for financial planning, especially for families with disabled children.
In an effort to give back to the community, Gardiner will offer a free financial planning workshop this week in the offices of Profound Financial, 7121 W. Bell Road, Suite 130 in Glendale.
“Plan Now for Your Disabled Child’s Financial Independence” will run from 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday.
“There are similarities in planning for a disabled child’s future as you would for any child,” Gardiner said. “The important thing to remember with disabled children is that the time frame is longer. You have to plan into adulthood.”
Reservations are requested to attend the workshop.
For information, call 623-566-9821 or go to email@example.com.