I love having children who have special and additional needs. There is always some anxiety about whether we will be the best place for a child, but when Georges Mum wanted us to take her child with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, we really wanted to be able to help. https://www.facebook.com/Georgetappendenfundraise
Taking George was a decision not to be taken lightly as it would have implications for feasibility of the practical aspects of care and could we give George all he needed to access the complete EYFS. We hadn’t taken a wheelchair user before, but had always had in the back of my mind how we could take a child with their wheelchair. Planning with other agencies was key to successfully including George into our setting. We were eager to find solutions to meet Georges needs, giving him the best time possible at Millies.
There were financial implications as we would need extra staff for some of the time and special equipment that would need storing when we weren’t using the hall. The first conversation with the occupational therapist was interesting as she suggested fixture for hoist pullys and fixed height adjustable changing tables. Unfortunately we rent our hall so structural changes to the building wasn’t an option. So we had to be inventive and resourceful. We had some council money to get the best we could to meet Georges needs.
We had a specialist trainer in lifting to help us problem solve handling George so he could do everything the setting offered with minimal risk to the staff. The process of planning took a while, but we wanted everything to be in place for George’s arrival. Input from his family, particularly his mother helped us get to know George, and a home visit with key staff helped us to get to plan for his additional needs.
Planning, training and accessing extra funds for staff and equipment took a while but we got there, and had the continuous support of other outside agencies already involved in George’s life. George’s Mum accompanied him to start with, helping us to handle him and a few “what to do if’s” like signs he was tired, when he was thirsty etc.
Having Gearge at our pre-school was fabulous. Children became aware of disability, taking it very much in their stride. They were very accepting, asking frank questions and not being perturbed by the answers given. They seemed to gauge when they could help George and when he could manage himself. The key person took on the enhanced role of giving him the extra support he needed. As a team we also had an awareness that the role needed to be shared and lifting and manuevering him would take two members of staff. George was quite adept at getting around the room. We made changes to the layout to allow easy access to all areas, also putting his favourite activities away from the doorway to avoid draughts and chilling. It wasn’t long before he could make his way independently around the room and the garden, even over uneven grass!
George himself had a giant personality, cheeky, creative and bundles of fun. He is a bright boy who engages fully in play and activities, enjoying discovering new textures and exploring resources to learn. He has a fabulous family who supported us while we got to know George. Even though he has moved on to a new setting, we still here through the family how he is doing. The family are always trying to raise awareness of SMA and have many fundraisers for George and SMA.
Enjoy this clip of his early days at Millies.