I started my career as a helper at my sister’s daycare, the Frontenac Club Day Care in Kingston Ontario. I had just graduated from Guelph University and was looking for work at the same time my sister needed help to get her daycare ready for licensing. Before I knew it, I was putting hooks on the newly installed cubbies and greeting the first children enrolled at her newly-renovated centre which opened in 1983.
Around the same time, I applied for funding to start the Integration Programme at the Frontenac Club Day Care and I became the first Resource Teacher to work there. As such, I was responsible for the integration of 4 children with special needs; 2 of the first 4 children had Down Syndrome.
Our son Tommy runs fast. So fast he was selected as a Paralympic Tokyo 2020 hopeful, and represented Canada at the World Para Athletic Championships 2017!
Twenty-seven-year-old Tommy is a proud, happy autistic runner, Disney enthusiast and YouTube personality! His hometown running and road racing community warmly embraces him. He trains with the Ottawa Lions Track Club where he has friends who share his love of running. He’s also part of a thriving online community of Disney fans, and those who share a bond in Autism. Continue reading
Hope is something I will always have. Hope for a better day tomorrow. Hope for applying what I have learned today to tomorrow’s challenges. Being a mother of a child with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) has ensured that I will always have hope.
My son Ewan is a beacon of hope. I won’t lie. It’s not easy to see his peers moving through developmental stages at a totally different pace than him. What is encouraging is that he makes progress each and every day. His progress has taught me to not rule anything out. It’s not been a matter of IF Ewan will learn something/how to do something, but WHEN. He has his own schedule that keeps advancing, just at a slower pace.
Angelia is currently ten years old and entering Grade 5. Up to July 2017, she attended The Children’s Village at Bridlewood. My grand-daughter is a curious, creative, energetic, enthusiastic and affectionate child who also has special needs. She has several diagnoses: ADHD, LD and ASD. Labels aside, her challenges include social skills, staying on task, emotional regulation and transitions. Using language to express her needs, wants and to carry on conversations is also difficult for her. Most children learn these skills easily; however Angelia requires extra time to learn these. Without the support from our resource consultant from Children’s Inclusion Support Services (CISS) and the dedicated teaching team of the child care program who implemented the recommended strategies, Angelia would not have been able to continue to attend. I also believe that CISS and the teaching team have played a major role in helping her to grow and develop into the child she is today. Continue reading
Previously published in the Spring-Summer 2006 issue of ACCESS Integration.
Rebecca, born on February 1st , 1990, has Down Syndrome and lives with her mother, father and older sister, Monika.
Rebecca has been integrated into regular child care settings since she started day care at the age of two and a half at Dow’s Lake Day Care. It was there that support from Children’s Integration Support Services began.
Rebecca started her school years at St. Patrick’s Elementary School and attended the Barrhaven Child Care Centre school age program. When she first started at the day care, integration was a new concept and a “learn as you go” approach was taken by Rebecca’s family and teaching team. Rebecca’s parents were very appreciative of the team that was assembled to help and for the ongoing support of their Resource Consultant. Continue reading
My daughter Zoe who we fondly call Chip was referred to Children’s Integration Support Services (CISS) when she was around 3 years old. She has a diagnosis of Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). She is now a thriving 19 year old young woman who is attending college and lives a busy active life.
The Early Years
Chip started child care at around two years of age. It was there that the staff noticed that she was having some challenges that should be investigated further. Her first diagnosis identified her as being developmentally delayed and I was told she would require full support for her entire life. A second diagnosis identified her as having PDD-NOS. Chip needed a significant amount of support during the preschool and school age years. She had difficulty communicating and became easily frustrated which would often lead to meltdowns. However, I always saw a great deal of potential in her and always pushed her to reach that potential. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
When Benjamin was born he looked just like his older sister, Emily, as far as we and our doctor were concerned. The nurses in the nursery, however thought he looked like he had Down Syndrome and so genetic testing was done. When we received the call that the testing was positive for Trisomy 21 we were in shock and asked for him to be retested. As soon as the results from the second test confirmed the diagnosis, I called the Down Syndrome Society of Ottawa Carleton and the Infant Development Centre. This was where Heather Jones, an Infant Development Worker, came into our lives and was a godsend.
Heather told us to look at Ben as our child not as “Down Syndrome”. She told us he would be able to do anything anyone else could; he just may have to be taught the steps instead of coming by them naturally. At that time there were family support groups and play groups we attended. Communicating with other parents and interacting with them and their children normalized everything. Ben had many people in his life to help him and who supported us. He was lucky to have benefited from occupational, speech and vocational therapy as well as sign language. Continue reading
I’m sure there is not a parent among us raising a child with special needs, who does not have forever imprinted on their minds and in their hearts, the day their child was diagnosed. For our little family, it was the virtual blow from a two by four to the gut; the breathless shock to the system; the blood rushing to your face and the feeling that you needed to sink to your knees as some faceless voice uttered “severely autistic”. It’s amazing what power a few little words, quietly spoken, can have on a whole bunch of lives. Then comes the ricochet effect as the power of love for your child sends you hurtling into action as if on a permanent adrenaline rush: therapy, preschool, social programs, interventions, doctors, what program, how many hours, what can we afford, who are the best service providers and how much can we fit into a day? All the while, like an irritating song stuck in your head, the words so many will utter without truly understanding the impact they will have; “there’s a window of opportunity, and then development slows or stops.” Continue reading
Like all parents, I always wondered how I would react if one day I learned that my child had special needs or suffered from a serious illness. This is what happened to my husband and me, and here is our story.
We are parents of Congolese origin with two young girls who have been developing typically. We also have a son named Kihinda. We began to have concerns about his development when we noticed that at age two, he was not yet putting together two word phrases. Continue reading