by Larisa Bibko, Special Education Teacher
A Cute and Fearful Two Year Old
An incredibly cute but fearful 2 year old named Sashko could neither walk nor speak. His physical and mental development was delayed due to microcephaly diagnosis. “Oh, he needs so much help, professional help! We don’t want to miss another day, the earlier we start, the more we can do!” I thought to myself when we first met.
Immediately Sashko joined our preschool education group, and he loved it immensely. He would never miss a lesson thanks to the help of granny, papa, or mama who were always there to bring him to the lessons. He loved the fellowship and he loved to grow.
Model of Care
Sashko’s life started to change. A team of loving and disciplined therapists helped him develop in different areas of his life. Special education teachers worked with him in the preschool. Physical therapists maximized his walking ability. Psychologists and sensory therapists helped him relax and conquer his fears. Speech therapists helped him learn how to communicate better and Occupational therapist helped him master basic daily tasks. It looked like he was far enough along to join a public kindergarten at the age of 3!
Hopes to Pieces
When the time came for him to stand before the special committee that would decide what form of education to offer him, the hope for inclusion in the public system broke to pieces. To his mother’s big surprise, they not only refused him in a kindergarten for children with special needs, but also suggested sending him to an orphanage (boarding school).
“You don’t give my child even one chance for development. You cross him out of life,” she argued with the committee director. “My child has a right for inclusive education by law. If you don’t put him in the kindergarten, I will bring this case to the Mayor of the city, and if I have to, even to the President’s wife Marina Poroshenko”.
The committee director explained they had no teacher’s assistants to work in kindergartens, whereas Sashko’s mother said she would volunteer. Having a PhD in Chemistry, she was ready to give up her work for an opportunity for him to be included. She left certain that she would find a way to reach the first lady, if needed, but her child would not live in isolation.
Just a few weeks later, Sashko’s mother received a call from a special committee: they found an assistant and her son was to be accepted to a kindergarten. He will be the first child with special needs admitted to a public kindergarten on the inclusion program! Overflowing with joy she rushed to MTU to break the news - he son would have equal opportunities alongside other children.
Today Sashko is an independent, attentive, and active boy who attends a kindergarten and enjoys spending time with his peers.
We are thankful to God for the opportunity to improve his life and for his loving mother, who stands strong for her child’s rights.
Thank you, friends, for allowing us to be instruments in God’s hands to change children’s lives.