It was February, 2009 when I first met Valerie. I went into the school that she was directing in hopes to find a place that would accept Blake, my 22-month-old son with Down Syndrome and Jordyn, my 6-month-old “typical” daughter. The school Blake was attending still had him with the 1-year-olds because he was not walking yet. I knew it was time for me, Blake’s advocate, to find a better place for him. As I walked into the school to speak with Valerie, I was terrified that I would hear “Sorry, we can’t take your son. We aren’t equipped to handle a child with special needs.” I had heard this so many times since Blake was born that I had no doubt in my mind I would hear these words again. Much to my surprise, Valerie said, “We would love for Blake and Jordyn to attend our school!” Tears immediately began to stream down my cheeks. My first victory as Blake’s advocate!
After two months of Valerie directing the staff to take Blake out into the hallway for 30 minutes a day to practice walking…he finally began to walk on his own. That was the first of many accomplishments for Blake while under Valerie’s care. Blake and Jordyn learned to self-feed, drink from a cup, follow directions, and so much more over the next 2 years.
When Blake turned 4, I began to see a huge difference between he and his classmates. But I still pushed for him to be included with his peers. Then I woke up and realized that it wasn’t fair for any of the other students (Jordyn included) or the staff to have Blake in the same class. He couldn’t talk, didn’t know the alphabet, couldn’t sort colors, wasn’t potty trained, and just couldn’t focus on the material long enough. He would clear a shelf, run out the door, and disrupt all the other children while they were working. He needed more focused attention. He needed to learn material in his own way with a lot of assistance. I knew he would learn the material, but the typical classroom was not good for him. Blake was overwhelmed and it was time for a change.
I remember thinking, “what about Jordyn?” She was thriving at this school! She was beginning to read, could count to 100, and she even started doing some simple math. However, I didn’t want the kids at two different schools. This just wasn’t a feasible option for me. I remember wishing there was a school out there that had the excelled academics for Jordyn and a classroom that could also cater to Blake’s needs.
Voila! Distinct Abilities was the answer to my prayers. And with Valerie running this school, I knew it would be a great place to have both of my kids. And it definitely has been. Jordyn just turned 4 and is reading, doing simple addition and subtraction, and having fun being a kid! Blake is 5 and is able to do more than 20 signs, goes on the potty a majority of the time, counts to 10, speaking in sentences, his confidence has gone through the roof, and so much more. Both of the kids are so happy at Distinct Abilities. Both of their needs are being met…and at one convenient location. Thank you for listening to our family “type’s” needs!