April 18th, 2009
Our son Lionel is 9 years old and he has Down ’s syndrome. He is an active, curious, creative boy who loves life. In so many ways his life is what one would call normal. Lionel attends the local school down the street; he enjoys swimming lessons, teasing his siblings and does not always like homework.
However, speaking is very hard for Lionel because he also has the diagnosis of Apraxia. Yet Lionel has always strived to communicate. His receptive knowledge of English and French is good. Yet his speaking is very poor. Lionel strives to make himself understood with words, gestures, sign language.
Since Lionel entered public school in Kindergarten five years ago he no longer had access to the speech therapy he so much needs. The school board is mandated to provide Lionel with speech therapy, but their means to do so are practically non-existent. As a family with four children we simply did not have the financial means to offer Lionel speech therapy.
One month ago Lionel’s school made a recommendation that Lionel change to a special needs school for the simple reason that Lionel would be able to have a more specialized therapy in speech. On so many levels this is not a good choice for Lionel at this moment. Lionel learns so much by imitation and needs the model of other children. His travel time would go from a 10 minute walk, 20 minutes total in the day to over two and a half hours daily hour of bus transport The social integration of Lionel is a great success and the class is enriched because of Lionel’s presence. Birthday parties are a great favourite of Lionel and his last birthday he invited his entire class. All of this would have been taken away from Lionel if we had not found out about the Unicorn Children’s Foundation.
With the support of the Unicorn Children’s Foundation Lionel has started speech therapy. We are delighted to be guided in helping Lionel speak and his progress is already starting to be seen. Words like “boat” “key” are simple words but Lionel could not say them intelligibly before. So with the speech therapist at Rich Rewards and working at home we are working step by step to give Lionel a gift of speech. We thank the Unicorn Children’s Foundation from my heart for making this possible.
Sincerely and very gratefully,
Shelley Craig (mother) and Alex Soudin (father)
Ps – the photos are from Lionel’s last birthday party.