Written by Sarah Bloom-Anderson
Audrey has PURA syndrome, an extremely rare genetic condition that can cause learning disabilities, delays in development and often causes problems with sitting, walking, movement and speech.
Easterseals became part of Audrey’s life when was she was 14 months old. Easterseals’ Early Intervention program provided her with the therapeutic and educational support she needed to successfully transfer to a traditional preschool in her school district. At 9 years old, Audrey loves school and is thriving and her mom, Sarah, attributes this to Easterseals.
“Audrey loves, loves, loves school,” said Sarah. “Easterseals provided my daughter with the start she needed to succeed in school. Her teachers and therapists always comment on how working with Audrey is a joy because she is cooperative and excited to try new things even when they are hard which again, I credit Easterseals for helping her learn the value of always putting forth a positive effort.”
Following her experience with the Early Intervention program, Audrey continued working with Easterseals through the Chance to Dance program. Chance to Dance teaches students how to appreciate the art of movement through rhythmic ability and to use various music as well as imaginative play. Just like the name says, these dance classes provide the opportunity for kids with special needs a CHANCE to DANCE.
“Audrey loves listening to music and dancing, so I was thrilled to learn about Easterseals’ Chance to Dance program,” said Sarah. “She has participated for several years and always looks forward to her classes where she can meet new friends who like her, love this opportunity to move, dance and laugh.”
As March is Disabilities Awareness month, we asked Sarah what her thoughts are on the topic of acceptance and inclusion and what she hopes for her daughter and others with disabilities.
People with disabilities have intrinsic value. Just for being themselves. There has been remarkable change, of which Easterseals has definitely been a leader, in the past several decades. But there is still a long way to go.
I see great potential and hope when children and adults with disabilities participate in daily activities with people without disabilities. That is inclusion! My daughter is young still so where we have actually experienced this, other than school, is in her Chance to Dance program that invites children with special needs and with their friends and siblings without disabilities to dance together. They get to all dress up and be nervous together, seek the spotlight and encourage each other, and mostly, just have fun together. Kids without disabilities learn how that even nonverbal kids are funny, have things that they like and dislike, and have things that are hard and things that are easy. When it really comes into focus is when children without a disability begin advocating and talking for their nonverbal friend. That magic literally translates into creating a better world for the child with disabilities. In exchange, by just being themselves, the disabled child is making a kinder, more loving world for us all.