In my last post I talked a lot about my girl. Since then I have been able to talk with some special educators that deal with kids with special needs in many different settings. Apparently there are MANY services out there that help kids and families of kids with varying degrees of disabilities and I am SOO excited!
Our local university has a program where they match up kids with students who are studying to be special educators and psychologists. They have fee to register, but otherwise it’s free. The college kids spend up to 8 hours a week with the children helping with different life skills. They have to be in the same building as the parents, but are able to take the children and work on skills like money, dealing with a cashier, shopping, self help skills and other goals that might need work. So, for example, if I wanted to go to the mall the student could come with us and take my sweet girl to work on shopping for and purchasing an item. OR we could stay home and the student could help with hygiene ideas. You never know what they are learning now that might help in these areas, and as with ANY kid, sometimes hearing from someone other than your (know-it-all) mother how to do things might just make it click!
This service is through the Autism Society but they are willing to take kids that have other diagnoses.
There is also a summer camp that our local YMCA puts on each year that is for kids with disabilities. They have a buddy that stays with them each day and they do all kinds of fun activities from swimming, to archery, to games and crafts. They also have music therapy, occupational therapy and art therapy. If the kids are pretty high functioning they stay with them until they can “graduate” to the regular day camp where they are with typical kids all day. Our girl is kind of in between so it will take a while to figure out where she best fits. I just love that there are places that are willing to work with her and be patient until she finds her niche.
I have also been very concerned about middle school. We have a year before we make the big jump, but I can’t wait until then to get things figured out. I was very encouraged to hear that they have many programs in place to match up typical kids with those with needs and they are their buddies for classes like P.E. and other outside course work. The kids are much more exposed to kids with needs now and so it’s not like when I was in school or even when I taught!! They have lots of things in place now so I am REALLY praying that the Lord opens the door to the place that He has for her and the place that will be the perfect fit.
Eventually we are going to look into getting some sort of support with job training. Even though she is only 11 it is never to early to learn about things that could benefit her as she grows and becomes more independent. There can sometimes be waiting lists so it’s important that we not wait until we really NEED it before we start the process.
I don’t know if you are dealing with a child that you just really hope to see thrive, but is also dealing with special needs. I just wanted to encourage you that there are things out there and that God DOES have such a plan for these little lives. We can not give up hope that the differences that they have can and will be used for HIS glory!! We are just going to have to work a little harder and try all that we can to help them get there!