Throughout the course of “What You Can Do” we have called upon many friends and family for their professional or personal involvement. One friend, actually one whole family, who we’ve asked to participate a number of times are Jessica, Christian and their son, Jonathan. They have hosted our video on how to help children with special needs and they also provided us access to Jonathan’s hippo therapy session (therapy with the aid of equine movement). Since they’ve been so open and willing to provide us access to their life bringing up a child with special needs, we thought it would be great to get more information from them about their experience and what other families in their situation can do.
Below is Part 1 of our interview.
1. Your son, Jonathan has Mowat Wilson Syndrome, and as a result, has received some early intervention therapies. What are some of the therapies that he is currently receiving?
Jessica/Christian: Jonathan started receiving physical therapy and occupational therapy when he was 3 months old and several others followed quickly after. Now along with PT and OT, Jonathan receives Speech/Feeding therapy, Vision therapy, Hippo therapy (horseback riding), attends a Sensory Gym, and has a Special Education teacher and a Nutritionist.
2. Why are programs - such as an early intervention program - so important for both children and parents?
J/C: Early intervention is so important for children that are at risk for developmental/physical delays. When Jonathan was born we did not have a specific diagnosis and didn't know what we should have been looking for. We had him evaluated and he started receiving services right away. The therapists not only worked with Jonathan but with my husband and I as well. We learned how to do different exercises with him, how to feed him and monitor what he was eating, and even how to set up our house so that it would benefit Jonathan.
3. What, if anything, do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about raising a child with special needs?
J/C: I think the biggest thing for me was that Jonathan was a child first, and a child with special needs second. I got so caught up when he was born to make sure we were doing our "homework" with him as directed by the therapists and doctors that we forgot to play with him, snuggle him, tickle him and basically just enjoy him. It's a hard thing to balance but you need to have some sense of normalcy in your life and treat your child like a regular kid and yourself as a regular parent even though you may not feel like one 99% of the time.