A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Twins Dianna, Kathleen Farrell enjoy independence at Grome House, a Point/Arc’s residential home

By Andy Furman

One is very outgoing; talkative and she sings. The other, a bit more reserved. But you can hardly tell Dianna and Kathleen Farrell apart. They are twins, and almost inseparable.

“They do everything together,” said Constance Simmons, a 14-year employee of The Point/Arc, who serves as House Lead at the Grome House – one of 16 residential homes owned and operated by the non-profit organization based in Covington.

The Grome Home is home for the Farrell girls and has been their home since September 25, 2023, when the residence re-opened after the pandemic.

“Dianna is the leader,” Simmons said, “Sort of like Katie’s protection – and Katie follows. If Katie wants water, she asks Dianna, and she’ll tell me ‘my sister wants water.’”

Dianne and Kathleen Farrell (Photo provided)

The twins are 39-years-old – Katie is six minutes older – and they both attended Beechwood School from kindergarten through sixth grade.

“We both went to Silver Grove High School,” Dianna said, “They had special Education classes, and we both graduated in 2004.”

Dianna and Katie Farrell were diagnosed with Fragile X syndrome – a genetic condition that causes a range of developmental problems including learning disabilities and cognitive impairment.

Usually, males are more severely affected by this disorder than females. Affected individuals usually have delayed development of speech and language by age two.

Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is caused by changes in a gene called Fragile X Messenger Ribonucleoprotein 1 (FMR1). FMR1 usually makes a protein called FMRP that is needed for brain development. People who have FXS do not make this protein. Those with fragile X-associated disorders have changes in the FMR1 gene, but usually still make some of the protein.

The exact number of people who have FXS is unknown, but a review of research studies estimate that about one in 7,000 males and about one in 11,000 females have been diagnosed with FXS.

“Both Dianna and Katie read the Bible daily,” Simmons said, “And Dianna loves listening to WRRM (98.5 FM) and WGRR (103.5 ) on her radio.”

“Katie likes to listen to Q102 (WKRQ 101.9 FM) on her radio,” sister Dianna said.

They both love watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune nightly says older sister Maureen Chiasson, who is a Direct Support Professional at The Point/Arc and has worked for the company five-plus years.

“Both Dianna and Katie were born with Fragile X,” says mom June Farrell. “They both can walk, talk, and even run OK. And they both read and write.”

Three days a week, the twins attend Active Day of Ft. Thomas. The program provides daytime care in a safe and caring environment. Services include Arts and Crafts, Education Programs and Exercise.

“Every Saturday,” mom June continued, “We pick the girls up at around 2 p.m., take them to Blessed Sacrament Church, have dinner, and then they’ll tell us when they want to go home.”

Home, is of course, The Grome House in Edgewood, Kentucky.

“It’s just a real blessing getting them to live someplace where we live,” June Farrell said.

Dianna and Katie Farrell have always shared a room together. They still do – and have been doing so for more than 15 years at The Point/Arc.

The Point/Arc has educational programs which include social communication, transition programs, and career development. The Point/Arc now serves more than 1,400 people annually through its programs and services. The Point/Arc – now serving the tri-state over 50 years – is always looking for new ways to fill in-service gaps and to integrate individuals with I/DD in the community to reach
their fullest potential.

The Point/Arc

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