Posts Tagged ‘Spastic diplegia’

Meeting My Special Needs!

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

When I began my daycare business 12 years ago, I didn’t think about ever having children with special needs. But now I wonder how empty all of our lives would be without Sydney and Darby. They have filled my special needs by giving me a loving hand, a willing spirit, and a thankful heart.

Sydney came to us four years ago with mild to moderate spastic diplegia. As a newly diagnosed 14-month-old, we had only a few instructions on what she needed to work on to develop her muscles. Since then she’s had botox shots in both legs, and more recently, a rhizotomy. Sydney’s physical therapist, Sharon, comes to the daycare once a week so I can learn what Sydney needs to work on. We have fun making the tasks into games or contests. Now that Sydney is 5, it’s easy to motivate her by simply telling her that an exercise will help her toward her goal: walking independently

Darby is now 4 and has mild autism. She came to us via a referral from Sydney’s mom. She has hypotonia and is developmentally delayed. It’s been a thrill to see her develop her language skills in the three years that she’s been here. Her social skills are a little slower coming, but with the therapy she receives at the preschool, she’s growing into a little socialite! She loves the other kids here and knows each child by name. She’s learned to play more gently with the others and can now color a page without getting frustrated by the task.

Both girls need some special considerations to accommodate their special needs, but among my goals with every child is to prepare them for school, where they will be expected to be fairly self-sufficient, social, and disciplined. Most important, I want them to know that they are loved for who they are, not for what they can or cannot do.

The highlight of any day with my special needs kids is watching the other kids interact with them. Because the older ones have known both girls for so long, they don’t seem to notice that they are what the world might call “different.” They accept Sydney’s walker as a necessary extension of her and bring it to her without being prompted. They know to be patient with Darby and kindly tell her not to “hit, just pat” the other kids. Both of the girls will work extra hard if they know that the other kids are watching and cheering them on. They are accepted for who they are, without prejudice. That lesson will stay with all of them for life.

When daycare providers turn down families with special needs kids, I believe it is out of a lack of experience working with special needs kids. Many people focus too much on the disability and not enough on the child. However, if you are a daycare provider and you can’t see the child first, and love that child, then turn down the family! Children should be with people who want to care for them in a loving environment.

Darby and Sydney have taught me and our daycare family that everyone, and no one, has a disability.We ar all just a little bit different from one another, and I guess that means each of us has a “special need”!

Submitted by Patty Strother

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