EXTRA SPECIAL WITH THAT EXTRA CHROMOSOME
“My name is Andrew and this is my story …”
“Everyone says I am a cute little boy, but some tasks that others consider simple are very challenging for me. I have Downs Syndrome and I am trying very hard to grow in to a strong little man. It’s not always easy”.
“In August 2015, at the age of 3, my parents enrolled me for therapy. At that time I was non-verbal, I didn’t walk and had no interest in actively exploring my environment. My parents put their trust in Sensation Station and their team to help me learn and develop. On my first day at the Sensation Station Centre I just sat on the floor in the sensory gym, placed my hands on the floor and spun in a circle repeatedly. Sadly, I was unable to walk and only with great difficulty could I pull myself up to stand while holding onto something stable or firm. But I was too weak and tired”.
“I needed intense core muscles strengthening to develop a walking pattern and to improve my body awareness. My attention and concentration was bad too. I was unable to maintain my focus on an activity for any period of time and would trail my gaze off the person or an activity. I had no interest in my peers or my surroundings and would choose to be disengaged. I was living in my own little bubble world”.
“I went for my therapy every day and after one month of fun and challenging occupational therapy sessions, I joined the therapy-based Early Intervention & Learning Programme in September 2015. Every day I do my best to learn, do my therapy and try to have fun too. I get to learn the basic concepts of letters, sounds, numbers and foundation stage mathematics. I like the activities such as sensory arts, show & tell, sensory and social play. I also enjoy the movement activities that include games and music, songs and dance. But sometimes I get really tired and all I want is to chill-out in the amazing Snoezelen room – it’s called “Wonder World”. It is so peaceful and calming, I feel relaxed in there. I think it’s my favorite room in the centre. I also like the Sensory Gym “Fun Junction” and the Mini Super Market”.
“My buddy Ronaldo is in the same group as me. He is a bit like me but bigger. We have fun together. The team at the centre help us to reach our maximum potential and provide us with the strong foundation we need to make the most of our abilities, strengths and talents as we grow up. In this enabling environment I have learned to be strong and independent”.
“I now walk around without any support and I love to explore the world around me. I interact with my family and teachers, look them in the eyes, play with them, and sometimes copy what they do. I make lots of sounds and sometimes even try to sing. I’ve come a long way since I started at Sensation Station and look forward to learning even more”.
“I even got a Certificate of Awesomeness for learning my numbers. I am very proud of myself”.
Quotes By The Team:
Masnoena, Andrew’s Occupational Therapist at Sensation Station said: “The small group size with a favourable student-staff ratio allows optimal support to facilitate Andrew’s development. Some of the strategies used included the development of Gross and Fine Motor Skills through fun and play based activities. The OT session include plenty of trampoline play activities and sensory play (deep pressure & tactile). Daily play time with cause and effect toys, and activities to increase shoulder & neck stability were all part of Andrew’s daily therapeutic routine”.
Samira, also an Occupational Therapists at the centre mentioned: “We introduced therapeutic taping to improve Andrew’s muscle strength, encourage optimal alignment, and decrease muscle fatigue. We also ordered Andrew a customized pediatric walker to encourage independent and assisted walking. Andrew was encouraged to bring a toy along on little excursions through the centre to practice balancing and walking”.
Maillah the Senior Centre Assistant and EILP Coordinator added: “Andrew really enjoyed the Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) session such as walking “Chubby” the therapy dog, patting and feeding the Rabbits. Interacting with the animals improved Andrew’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning in a fun and engaging way. Although, it looked more like “Chubby” the dog was taking Andrew for a walk – the fun boosted his confidence and made Andrew more secure with his balance”.
Eva the Head of Marketing at the centre remembers: “How quickly Andrew was “racing” up and down the centre’s corridors, occasionally bumping in to the walls but quickly managed to maneuver his fancy walker around the corners, exploring the centre, visiting the staff at their offices for a quick peek and off he goes again. Back in the early days, the clicking sound of the wheels on Andrew’s walker always made me smile so much. Each time he was passing our office, I was so happy to hear the speed increased day-by-day, week-by-week and soon he was unstoppable racing up and down the corridor. Such a little miracle!” Seeing Andrew now walk by himself without the aid of the walker is just amazing”.
Nisha the Head of Therapy Department and Andrew’s Speech & Language Therapist stated: “Andrew is the sweetest little boy and he brightens up my day whenever I see him! I have been working with him since he joined our Early Intervention Programme and it has been such a pleasure to see the amazing progress he has made! I’ve loved to see his cheeky personality blossom and his confidence increase – he never fails to make me smile and he always melts my heart!”
This is what Andrew’s Parents had to say: “Andrew loves Sensation Station! My husband and I were very concerned about education for Andrew when we learned of our transfer to Dubai. Andrew has Down Syndrome, and has been delayed in development due to chronic illness from birth to 3 years-old. He was 4 years-old when he began therapy and class at Sensation Station. At that time he was very uninterested in toys, books, or therapy. He also wasn’t walking. We have seen such an incredible growth in Andrew the last two years. The teachers and therapists have been so loving and engaging with Andrew. They researched and ordered a walker for Andrew which gave him the freedom to walk around and be independent. He was thrilled! He would walk around the center like he owned the place. Andrew now walks, runs and climbs independently. Though Andrew is still non-verbal, I can see the excitement in his face when he arrives at the center. He begins to clap for joy when we pull into the valet parking, and immediately leaves my arms to give his teachers a hug when he sees them! After long breaks from holiday, we can see a difference in Andrew’s mood. His stemming behavior increases, he reverts to grabbing things and throwing them, and seems bored. Sensation Station has been such a blessing for Andrew, and our family”.
Summary: Currently, 1½ years later, after attending the Early Intervention & Learning Programme (EILP) and therapy sessions at Sensation Station, Andrew now shows a great interest in activities and people in his surroundings. His eye contact and turning his head when his name is called is also consistent. The Speech & Language Therapist would use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) to help Andrew develop his speech. He is able to independently walk, participates in fine motor activities using a variety of grasps, playing with toys and other children. He enjoys mirror play and is more vocal in sessions. Andrew has a much better endurance for physical based activities. His attention and concentration has noticeably improved and he is now able to maintain focus on an activity for up to 10 minutes or more at a time. He expresses shared enjoyment with both adults and peers by laughing and clapping his hands appropriately. He also expresses interest in what his peers are doing. Overall, Andrew is consistently achieving his therapy goals, which are being reviewed and adapted on a regular basis accordingly to his progress.