Hard to believe Denis recently turned 19 years old. He’s a very happy young man regardless of his challenges such as being non-verbal, and yet he has no problem communicating his wants and needs.
It all started many, many moons ago when Denis was a baby. We knew there were issues but when he finally had his CT Scan at the age of one, they discovered hydrocephalus (an accumulation of fluid within the cranium) and he had a shunt installed within weeks. At 3 years of age, he was diagnosed with Autism and started school on a full-time basis at 3 and a half. That’s when we crossed paths with Children’s Integration Support Services and were matched with an amazing Resource Consultant, Sylvie Giroux, to whom we still send Christmas cards. We were blessed to have her in our lives at that time.
Children’s Integration Support Services
Sylvie was very helpful and most supportive to us. I especially remember when the after school program at La Vérendrye had not had the experience of including a child with special needs in their program hence that’s when Sylvie got involved. It was challenging for them as Denis wasn’t toilet trained at the time and their policies didn’t allow children with diapers. Our Resource Consultant met regularly with us and the after school program and through her excellent support and negotiation skills, they were able to meet Denis’ developmental needs where he continued to attend for several years until he moved onto another school. It was very reassuring to us to know that she “had our back“.
Best Big Brother
Denis is lucky to have an amazing big brother Eric who takes him on bus rides, to movies, plays Wii games with him … and so much more. It’s heartwarming to see them interacting with each other. They love spending time together as you can see in the photo of Eric enjoying a bonding moment with Denis.
So Where is Denis Now
Denis still attends school and is presently at Gisèle Lalonde, a French high school in Orléans. He has an awesome teacher, Jimmy Lavoie, and truly enjoys going to school… even misses it over the summer.
He has a pretty busy activity calendar. He attends the Gloucester Association for Special Needs (GACSN) playgroup on Saturday afternoons where he gets to spend time with his peers and go swimming. On Sunday afternoons, he takes trampoline lessons for individuals with special needs at Spring Action Trampoline with his friends Dylan and Gilles. As you can see from the photos he has been taking classes for awhile.
His other favorite activity is the monthly dances with Citizen Advocacy. Here is another photo of Denis, he’s doing the locomotion.
Life Changes Because of a Birthday
Denis’ activity calendar used to be much busier but unfortunately since he turned 18, he could no longer participate in some of the activities. He enjoyed attending the various Realize Community Potential (RCP) activities offered through Autism Ontario and Saturday Respite Days with l’Association pour l’intégration sociale d’Ottawa (AISO) as well as their March Break Camp. Since then, it’s been frustrating for our family because we lost Special Services at Home (SSAH) funding and services from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) at the same time. What a rollercoaster year for sure … luckily we still have school for a couple more years.
Denis has two more years of school and we have already started looking at the day programs available to him afterwards. Even though he has many challenges in his life, he’s a very happy young man who LOVES music, dancing, trampoline and swimming with his peers … life is good!
Brenda, Denis’ Proud Mom