DANIEL

In 2015, I visited Niagara Children’s Centre for the very first time with my 18 month old son, Daniel. It wasn’t until the Centre became a lifeline for my son Daniel and for me as a parent that I truly learned the value of the miracles that happen within the four walls of the Centre on a daily basis.

Initially, Daniel was referred to Speech Services Niagara for assessment. He was not hitting his milestones like many other children his age and it was determined he had a significant speech and communication delay. Since then, there are not many services at the Centre that Daniel has not received, and greatly benefitted from; from speech & language therapy to occupational therapy, preschool resources and therapeutic recreation. 

Additionally, I have participated and benefited from social work services as well as many parent education programs over the years. Participation in these programs has helped me to navigate his needs more effectively and draw out his strengths in ways that set him up for success. It has also helped me to develop a confidence as a parent to move forward and be able to support Daniel in the way he needed me to.

Shortly after age 3, Daniel was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder with an accompanying language impairment by the Centre’s Developmental Pediatrician. Although this was not the beginning of Daniel’s journey at the Centre, it was a turning point that helped to carve a path forward in terms of therapy needs, resources and next steps. The holistic and family-centred approach the Centre uses ensures that the needs of the child are at the forefront and support often extends beyond the Centre walls into home, childcare and school settings to ensure there is integration into all aspects of daily life.

The months following diagnosis turned into years. On a weekly basis we would visit the Centre for programs and services that helped to support Daniel in his growth and development as a child and me as a parent. The Centre has truly become a second home to us. 

When Daniel arrives at the Centre he looks forward to seeing the staff and walking the hallways looking at the painted murals of popular characters. It is a welcoming facility, filled with love and hope – this energy radiates each time we pass through the doors. I cannot imagine where Daniel would be today without the valuable services he has received at the Children’s Centre.

I am most thankful and feel blessed that when we walk through the doors of the Centre, Daniel is greeted by a staff team who believe in his unlimited potential. They accept him for who he is and work to bring out his strengths. They believe in him 100%, not just some days, but every single day. I think this is the greatest gift any parent can be given – to have others believe in your child the way you do is nothing short of remarkable.

Ultimately, the Centre has helped Daniel develop so many skills that readied him for entry into the school system and participation in every day community life. The Centre helped Daniel achieve the ability to thrive in a classroom setting at school and participate in community activities that, at one time, seemed impossible due to his significant communication and sensory challenges.

Today at almost 7 years old, Daniel is a thoughtful little boy who cares deeply about others. He enjoys participating in sports of all kinds. He has recently taken an interest in baking and also enjoys playing video games, hanging out in his tree house and swimming in his pool during the summer months. Last year, Daniel learned how to ride his bike down his street independently. He’s had a passion for looking through books since a young age and is currently learning how to read. Daniel lives in Niagara Falls and is regularly supported by many friends and family who love him tremendously and enjoy watching him grow and learn new skills each day.

A recent experience I am most thankful I had access to the Centre was during the early days of the pandemic. Daniel was experiencing significant feelings of anxiety brought on by isolation and lack of consistent and predictable routine, which is a staple in his ability function successfully. A lot of worry and frustration and tears were occurring often. My immediate call to action was to engage his team at the Centre for help and resources because I knew they would provide me with sound advice and tailor any strategies to his specific needs. Not surprisingly, his support team stepped up immediately sending me resources such as social stories, activities and supportive emails and calls to check in on us. During a time that was incredibly difficult for everyone, the Centre staff didn’t miss a beat and I felt very supported as a parent. I will be forever grateful for the army they have become for Daniel.

My hopes and dreams have remained the same for Daniel since before he was even born – that he leads a happy, healthy and fulfilling life. A diagnosis, a speech delay or any other obstacle will not change the goals or extraordinary love I have for him as a parent. I want him to experience all that life has to offer just as any other child would.  I want Daniel to feel a comfort in trying new things, meeting new people and seeing all that the world has to offer him. 

The Children’s Centre not only supports kids but also their families and by broader extension, our entire community. By supporting entire family units, we are investing in our communities-at-large and their success, and the inclusion of all people.  Supports in the early years are critical and as the only children’s treatment centre in Niagara, it is important for the community to support the Niagara Children’s Centre to keep care close to home and readily available and accessible for all who need it. Money donated to the Children’s Centre is an investment in our collective future and success as a community that cares.

 

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