Welcome to Our House - The Analogy ©

Having a baby is special. For some, it’s a lifelong dream, for others, a wonderful surprise. Either way, many of us have thought about taking this journey and whether it’s planned or a pleasant surprise, we all have preconceived ideas about what our child will look and be like. But what if it isn’t what we planned or expected? This is a short story I have written for parents who have or are expecting an exceptionally special child.

Welcome to our House – An analogy

After many months of dreaming, you finally decide it’s time. You are going to build that perfect house of your dreams. You have saved and saved, and now it’s time to put your plan into action. You find a wonderful, perfect piece of land in the city. It’s exactly what you are looking for – because it’s the plan that everyone talks about. You envision the all brick house sitting on luscious green grass, surrounded by a white picket fence. Inside is a marble foyer leading into a family room with beautiful oak hardwood floors. Granite lines the kitchen counter tops and there is an island sink in the middle. Upstairs has four perfect bedrooms and the master bedroom has an ensuite bathroom and an enormous walk-in closet, of course. It’s truly a dream come true, and it’s only a matter of time. You purchase the land and think to yourself, in nine short months, you will have it all.

But suddenly your agent calls to tell you, the land is not properly zoned, and the city has not approved it for building your perfect home. They have instead, given you land in the country, where an old country home sits. You are absolutely devastated, your dreams vanishing right before your eyes. You know you can’t back out now, you need a place to live, and despite it not being what you wanted, you know that somehow you will manage and that you can continue on.

You tell everyone what has happened, and everyone is disappointed, some even offering their condolences. You know that everyone else has a nice city home, and that was what you had planned, but you have to come to terms with the fact that you must learn to live in the country.

You go to see the property every month until closing and something funny happens. You start to fall in love with the place. The air is fresh, it’s peaceful and serene. There’s a pond on the land, and the house, though not a new all brick home, is quaint, and has lots of hidden potential. You soon realize it’s not a awful place, it’s just a different place. It’s slower paced than the city, less noisy and flamboyant, but it’s beautiful none the less. And in the process, you soon realize you may even get to meet some new and wonderful neighbours.

Its closing day and you suddenly find yourself full of anticipation, but you are still a little worried. After all, it isn’t what you had originally hoped for, and the house may need some repairs. But you are determined to accept it, and tackle everything one step at a time. You open the front door, and suddenly you are thrilled with what you see. The house is lovely, and has lots of character. The rooms are smaller but it’s decorated with beautiful attention and detail. The kitchen has marble instead of granite, and the bathroom has a soaker tub instead of a Jacuzzi. There isn’t a walk-in closet in sight, but the rooms all come with an indescribable view. Somehow, you just know that it was always meant to be and that this is now home.

This is my analogy of what it will be like for people who discover that they will be caring for a baby with Down syndrome. For us, it is not a terrible place to be, it is a journey full of surprises, milestones and discovery like any other child. And as the story suggests, sometimes it’s only a matter of ‘point of view’, and surprisingly, once you have been there, you don’t want to be anywhere else. The journey, like all others doesn’t come without some bumps in the road, but once you find your way, it’s all about the place you discovered, in most cases - quite by random chance
Author: Sandi Graham-McWade, Copyright

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Journal - Week 55 (07Sep10)

for kids with Special Needs

A fun playful environment for kids (with learning and support for their caregivers).

Today we had our "Memorandum of Understanding" meeting for the key members who will help me to run the "Play to Learn" Support Group for kids with special needs".  Back in November 2009 I had a idea which turned into a mission to create a group where Hunter could maximize his potential through play as well as find and be support with or to other families who were in the same position as we were.  When I contacted the YMCA, they were extremely interested and asked if I would facilitate and coordinate the group.  I gladly accepted the chance to do so and began to focus and direct my energies into planning and preparing this group.  I approached the one person I knew could give me the right assistance and would definitely be the right person to have help me with various avenues.  Hunter's EI therapist.  Jenn and I have formed a friendship over this past year and I knew she was the perfect person to help me make this group work well.  Since her help involved her in a professional capacity, I met with her manager at the Ontario Association for Infant and Child Development (OAICD).  This venture would make myself, the YMCA Ontario Early Years Centres (OEYC), and Ontario Association for Infant and Child Development partners in the organizational aspect.

At this meeting we discussed the purpose and logistical aspect of our group and subsequently the final details for the group.  The question of overall length came up and I feel based upon speaking with the Mom's who I know are interested in attending that an ongoing support group is essential with no end date.  The frequency of meets was discussed and we all agreed that a twice a month to begin with would be a great start.  As the group primarily meets discussions surrounding the frequency of meets and the best times to meet will be decided within the entire group.  We did decide that the length of time for each meet would be from 2:00 pm until 4:30 pm (with an open door format) to provide an acceptable length of time for families to arrive at any point and to stay as long as they desire.  We discussed the availability of Jenn's visits and how she can support the families.  We also spoke about my wishes to bring in guests or experts to speak to the families and this was confirmed.

As the facilitator of this group and for the purpose of my post, I am providing everyone with the tentative details.

The purpose of the group is to provide a welcoming meeting and network space for parents, caregivers, families who have children with any type of special need.  It is important to note that this group does not require any one to have a designated medical diagnosis proving a special need and at the same time the families attending must realize that the purpose of the group is not there to establish or make medical diagnoses.  Instead they can provide direction and resources to attain the same.
The target start up for the group will aim for the week of October 18th, 2010.  The actual opening date is tentatively scheduled for the Tuesday the 19th, and will hopefully remain every other Tuesday unless otherwise specified.  The final details will be confirmed within the next week.  Promoting of the group will primarily occur through the YMCA, OAICD my Blog and word of mouth.  Flyers will be distributed through those organizations to reach all the families possible.  As a result of our Memorandum of Understanding we concluded that no one will ever be turned away.  With respect to location, the group will be held at the YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre in Pickering.  (There are some upcoming changes being made with respect to the Pickering Centre's location so until we confirm the new address I will leave the location described as the Pickering site.)

The YMCA have indicated that they will definitely be advertising the group through their Calendar of Events as well as on their Website.   See/Check here for eventual confirmed listing and schedule for our group:  http://calendar.ontarioearlyyears.ca/default.asp?calendarid=11  As well, the OAICD will promote by providing flyers to all their clients about the group.
NOTE:  When referring to this group, (since there are different "Play to Learn" groups) that you note our group will be specifically noted for "Kids with Special Needs".  While the centre aims at the ages of 0-6 years, any age group is welcome.

If anyone at all is interested in attending this group, (and I know there are a few of you who have contacted me) I urge you to contact me as soon as possible so that we can prepare and have totals.  Please send me an email to tkd73@sympatico.ca .  We will welcome anyone from any area.  Similarly, if anyone has questions please contact me.

I can't wait for this to be a reality and I wish to see you there!

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