Parenting a special needs child has changed me. I have learned to consider so many new things as mom to Gellibean. I have learned all about how our senses and sensory development affects something as simple as a child learning to sit, and later crawl. (Thanks Teacher Raina for the countless explanations.) My understanding of speech and language development has been reinforced by working with Gelli’s speech therapist. While I understood the basic principles of language acquisition, I have also deepened my understanding to help Gelli become verbal with Teacher Geline’s guidance. I have helped set goals for Gelli with her physical therapist (Teacher Danica) and have watched her achieve those goals with the help of her siblings and her Dad. Together, we have nurtured Gelli to grow and reach the milestones that so many parents of typical kids might take for granted.
Many children with special needs must work doubly hard to achieve what may seem like simple tasks for average kids. Sitting on her own was a big deal for Gellibean. We would work on it every day after her siblings would leave for school. When Gellibean could finally pull herself up from sitting to standing in the playpen we all were ecstatic at her achievement! Now that Gelli has shown an interest in moving around and being mobile, we are working with her in the walker so that she can step with one foot in front of the other…truly taking things “one step at a time.”
Parents who have special children have many partners in raising their child. Even my “big” kids have partners too! They are the teachers that are with them all day in school. The teachers who facilitate learning in math, english, reading and all the other subjects take interest in my children because their students’ success is a direct reflection on how effectively they are teaching. My kids see the guidance counselor as the rest of the class does for once a month sessions. These guidance counselors are also my partners. Even our household staff, albeit with or without a designated “yaya,” (nanny) are also our partners in parenting! I have said it before, and I still believe that “It takes a village to raise a child.” Imagine, when your child is in school for a full day, they are actually with their teachers during their waking hours, more than you! (if they have an 8pm bedtime) They are with their teachers for 8 hours if they come home right after school and do not have after school activities. Have you considered all of the people who help you raise your children?
Gellibean’s village consists of her parents, siblings, grandparents, extended family, friends, doctors, and her therapists. Gellibean sees her three therapists weekly to address some of her developmental delays and they all help her reach her physical, cognitive, and social goals sometimes, overlapping with one another. Some children with Down Syndrome might need to see a gamut of doctors to address their health as well. Some of these include a pediatrician, a developmental pediatrician, an ENT, and an endocrinologist just to name a few.
Early Intervention is crucial for our children and their development. What many might not know is that there are also alternative therapies for our children that have yet to come mainstream here in Manila. This brings me to yet another partner in raising my daughter.
Her Yoga Teacher. Teacher Bunny. Teacher Bunny is certified by Sonia Sumar in Yoga for the Special Child. She has come to teach Gelli (and mommy) yoga for some time. When Gelli was still a newborn we attended “Mommy and Me” yoga classes where mommies got a light work out and bonded with our babies. She taught us the benefits of the poses while we manipulated our babies to reap those benefits of the asanas that many adult yogis and yoginis practice. Teacher Bunny worked with me to help me gain confidence in working with Gelli one on one in accordance with Sonia’s teachings. It was a huge relief for me after our first session when Teacher Bunny shared that she felt that Gelli was stronger than most other kids she worked with and that we could continue to strengthen Gelli’s muscles with simple exercises from the book, Yoga for the Special Child, By Sonia Sumar.
Here in Manila, there are at least four certified yoga teachers for special children. I have asked some of these teachers to join us for our annual Happy Walk to celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness on February 24th. Thankfully, these teachers have agreed to do a warm up with all of the attendees before we begin our walk. They have also agreed to donate their services to conduct a short yoga session with all of the kids as well! This is a wonderful way for our children to get a taste of what yoga can be for them and it can also lend itself as an informative activity for the parents who will be able to watch and possibly participate.
If you would like to learn more about Yoga for the Special Child and the benefits of practicing with your children, feel free to contact Avril Rodriquez or Bunny Tamesis. Bunny can be reached through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or thru cell phone +63-917-553-6220.