Emily and her twin sister Ruby began attending a STaR affiliated centre in February 2015 and could often be found with their peers at the puzzle table or in the sandpit. Although they share velocardiofacial syndrome and autism spectrum disorder, which have affected their physical development and social communication, their interests differed. Emily loved painting and Paw Patrol videos and Ruby loved music, especially The Wiggles.
Both girls have formed strong relationships with the childcare educators who have seen great improvements in their communication skills. Each has improved greatly in her ability to let others know what she wants using gestures, signs, picture exchange (PECS) and, for Emily, some words.
In the early days at childcare, while some of her peers had a bottle of milk after lunch, Ruby had hers through a feeding tube. To the educators and other children this was just like any other child having their milk. This acceptance represents inclusion in action. Within 8 months of receiving her individualised STaR program, the childcare educators and the girls’ parents were excited to learn that Ruby, thanks to her hard work at chewing and swallowing, no longer needed to use a feeding tube at lunch time.
Ruby and Emily are now in school. Despite the severe impact velocardiofacial syndrome has on the girls’ physical health, Ruby and Emily attend school every week just like their peers.
STaR helps us in so many ways with schooling, inclusion and sometimes just life. They make dealing with some really hard aspects of a special needs child’s life, just that little bit easier.