Kid Captain Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner granted her birthday wish this weekend

When Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner was younger, medical professionals at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics diagnosed her with different learning disorders to help her get the care she needed. Now, the soon-to-be 9-year-old will be taking the football field as the Iowa Hawkeyes Kid Captain.


Ryan Adams

Kid Captain Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner walks onto the field of Kinnick Stadium with Hawkeye Defensive Back Wes Dvorak at Kids Day at Kinnick on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Kids Day at Kinnick is an annual event for families to experience Iowa's football stadium, while watching preseason practice and honoring this year's Kid Captains.

Alexandra Skores, News Editor

Soon-to-be 9-year-old Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner will be granted a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as the Iowa Hawkeyes Kid Captain for her birthday this weekend at the game against Minnesota.

Aubrey’s parents, Rachel Bussan and Jeff Kluesner, originally became acquainted with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics when their younger daughter was born. As their daughters grew up, the family noticed Aubrey wasn’t reaching certain expectations that her fellow classmates were meeting in school.

“She showed me the graph of where she was and where her peers were,” Bussan said. “She was way far behind. We knew there was something wrong, but we weren’t quite sure. I wanted to get her help.”

Bussan said she had explained these symptoms to their doctors in their hometown of Dubuque with no luck as to an explanation. The family turned to the UIHC to get some answers.

“No one recommended me to go there. I found it myself,” Bussan said. “Nobody was helping me and the doctors were not answering my questions. When we went to Iowa City, it was a whole day where a whole team of doctors looked at her and tested her.”

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.

Alyssa Woods, psychiatrist with UIHC, said that she has been taking care of her for a little over two years.

“She’s just struggled throughout the years in regards to academics and different peer interactions that led her to seek care with us,” Woods said.

Woods said that she admires Aubrey and her family for being able to reach out in a time of need.

Ryan Adams
Kid Captain Aubrey Bussan-Kluesner poses for a picture with her mom in front of her banner in the Hawkeye football locker room at Kids Day at Kinnick on Saturday, August 10, 2019. Kids Day at Kinnick is an annual event for families to experience Iowa’s football stadium, while watching preseason practice and honoring this year’s Kid Captains.

“There is a giant stigma associated with diagnosing mental health,” Woods said. “Many patients will go undiagnosed or untreated. I think it’s important to remember that a lot of people live day-to-day with mental-health conditions.”

Woods said that approximately one in five children and adolescents struggle with a mental health condition, and, of those, only 10 percent receive treatment from a mental-health professional.

Thankfully, Aubrey was able to receive the care she needed at UIHC, said Woods. Dependent upon the different scenarios, it was important for the hospital to identify Aubrey struggling early on and treat her while she was still young.

Bussan said Aubrey is likely to be on the medication for the rest of her life, yet she still chooses to live her life to the fullest.

Kluesner said that his daughter is the most incredible little girl in his life.

“It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that a lot of other kids will never have the chance to do, but she is so excited,” Kluesner said.

Kluesner said he is proud of the young girl his daughter has become. Aubrey loves to ride bikes and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.

“She is a wonderful kid, and I love her,” Kluesner said.

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