Overview of Child- The Early Years Before being adopted, she was near death due to malnourishment. For the first three and a half years, she was in a social welfare institute in Guangzhou, China. It is believed she was abandoned from birth to about six months. While at the institute, she was considered unadoptable and left in her crib for the rest of her time at the institute. At the age of three and a half, she was taken in by a Christian missionary family after they saw her near death condition. They thought she would die within a few days.
Overview of Child- Now At the age of five, she was adopted by the family she is with now. She is now very happy and healthy. She is 18 years old and is a senior in high school excited to graduate in May. Her diagnosis is Autism, developmental delay, eating disorder (she will only eat soft foods now although has gotten MUCH better at eating), and communication disorder. She is in a self-contained classroom at a public high school.
Child’s Family The child was adopted by a family who gives her a lot of stimulation. Currently, they have two other children that were adopted. One is an African American boy who was adopted at birth. He is now 12. The other is an Asian girl who is 11 and was adopted when she was 17 months old. Also living with them is a five year old African American girl who has been with the family since birth. They are in the process of adopting her but are having a hard time. This has greatly affected the child that I work with. The parents are foster parents for several boys and girls that are in and out of the house. All of these kids have some kind of medical issues. The child’s mom has three kids from a previous marriage who are all grown and do not live with the family.
School/Work Programs As I said, she is a currently in a self-contained classroom at a public high school. She will graduate in May. Her mom is currently working with Easter Seals to get her transitioning to life after school.
Goals The child is very excited to graduate. This is something that she talks about all of the time. She also is very excited about getting a job. She continually talking working downtown and getting a convertible. She does not want to move away from her family’s house. She would like to live with her mom and dad forever. Her mom would like to see her get her own place and live by herself. She would also like for her to get a job doing typing, filing, or something along those lines that relate to her skills. The therapists and aides that work with her have goals of her being able to be self-sufficient. She can almost take a shower independently and cook simple food with little to no help. Other goals include speaking in complete sentences and not repeating a question when asked.
Outside Activities/Services The child has a group of aides that come into her house daily. I am one of those aides. We take her when she either gets off the bus or gets up and take her until bedtime or after dinner. We take her into the community to work on her social skills and work one-on-one with her on the goals set forth. She likes to swim and has participated in Special Olympics. This has been a great confidence booster for her. When she practices swimming, she continually talks about the Special Olympics and getting better for that.
Outside Activities She likes to go to church and will participate in singing during the service. She has speech, music, and recreational therapy. During recreation therapy, she works with two other boys her age both with Autism. This gets all three of them working on asking questions and communicating properly. These therapies have been a big help for her. The family also likes to go camping. They go to the same campground every time so they have gotten to know a lot of families. The child doesn’t like camping that much because it is out of her normal routine.
Reflection I have learned a lot from this family. Being around them sometimes angers me because the children are not respectful of the disabilities of the child. This has taught me how to respond to people who do not understand disabilities in a way that makes them think, not by yelling at them. I have learned a lot from the mom about case conferences. I spoke with her a few times about the child not being challenged at school. The mom saw this also and spoke with the teacher during her conferences. I saw how important it is to build a positive relationship with the parents of the student. The mom did not feel as though anyone would listen to her so she got frustrated. This could have been avoided if there was a better relationship.
Reflection I also learned to have patience. Families all go through a roller coaster of emotions when having a child with special needs. We have read a lot about this, but I saw it in my family. No matter what age the child gets, it never gets easier for the family. I have seen this family go through periods of understanding, anger, denial, and hope, and this has been over just the past few months. They try to deny the fact that the child has a disability and try to make her stop her ticks. Other days, they will be very supportive of her and work with her.
Reflection I hope that the family has learned that it is okay to ask questions when they do not understand. I hope that they have learned to be patient with the child and her disability. She is capable of so much, and I hope that her family sees this and has hope for her future. Also I hope that they have learned to be advocates for the child because she cannot be one for herself. My biggest fear is that the children of the family understand the child more. I hope that they learn to accept her disability and help her out instead of yelling at her.
Reflection I have seen many connections between the readings and the family. I think the main thing I will take away is the process families go through when they find out they have a child with disabilities. Although my family has known the child had a disability, they still are going through the process. I asked them how they felt when they found out she had a disability. They said they didn’t know until they went to pick her up from the airport. They were surprised, angry for nobody telling them, and felt a loss of hope. They began to understand at that time that they will always have a child to take care of no matter how old she got.