Inclusive and accessible playgrounds have come a long way in Calgary and area over the last 10 years. Playgrounds with accessible flooring have become more common and recently, playgrounds are being designed that not only allow access for people with mobility challenges but are places that kids with diverse needs and abilities can enjoy and play with their friends.
When young Cody joined the peer inclusion preschool at his neighborhood public school, he fit in from the start. His class was a mix of neurotypical ‘peer mentors’ and children with disabilities, including students like Cody with apraxia of speech, a motor speech disorder, that made communication complicated. The school’s curriculum encouraged understanding and advocating for students with disabilities, says Cody’s mom, and he felt accepted and included.
Do you dread going to family gatherings with your child? I used to. I particularly worried about a family gathering that was at someone else’s home because our daughter would get overstimulated by the sights, the sounds, and the people. Then, in an effort to cope with the over-stimulation, she would run laps around the place. Sometimes she would end up bumping into people or furniture; I would be embarrassed by her behavior and worried about her safety. I learned through working with an occupational therapist (OT) that my daughter’s hyperactivity was partially due to having a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).
As a parent of a child with special needs, I can’t tell you how many times someone has innocently said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” Meant to be an empathetic comment, it often left me wanting to respond, “I don’t know either” or, “It’s not like I have a choice...” Being a special-needs parent is not something I wished for, but is part of who I am. Usually I was the person who helped - now I am often the one who needs help. I am more comfortable giving than receiving. It hurts to feel vulnerable. It’s difficult to acknowledge that I can’t do it all on my own, that I need ‘the village.’
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