Special Needs Children thriving in Morning Light.
There are nearly 14 million children in China with special needs. Many parents can simply don’t have access to special schools and training for their children, plus any medical requirements which are needed. If their child needs constant medical care and specialised therapy, what can they do?
For many parents, the situation is just too difficult and leaving children in an orphanage has been, for many, their only option.
Our team in north-west China have been working with a small unit of 6 special needs children in a local orphanage. They have responded to the needs of the children for love and an ongoing commitment to therapy. The children they care for have varying levels of cerebral palsy and spina bifida and require full-time care. Our co-workers have been involved in conducting therapy, training in life skills and a programme of teaching. Two of the children have been taught an income-producing activity and are able to earn some money for themselves.
Our team member writes, “after nearly three years we have seen these lives turned around. They care for each other as a family and are achieving way beyond their supposed potential”. This change is a result first and foremost from love and care, but is also due to structured teaching, discipline and therapy.
The vision of our team is to provide special needs children and their families in the local community with the help they need to reach their full potential. They write, “our heart goes out to those families wanting to keep their children but crying out for help and understanding”. As a result, a special needs training centre has been created. It is located in the city centre and its aims are to provide help and training for parents and family members, training for special needs teachers, and teaching in all aspects of life for the special needs children, including school work, life skills, therapy and work skills training.
Children need the love and care of a family. The special needs training centre aims to give children the chance to be cared for in a loving family environment and to ease the stresses on parents of special needs children so that they don’t feel that they are in an impossible situation.
The orphanage our team serves in cares for over 200 children. While their focus is the unit of 6 children with special needs, they have also been able to look after other children as well through various activities, gifts of fruit and outings.
The care of the children in the unit is very structured and involves daily therapy. The children are trained in life skills including eating, dressing, bathing and toileting and helping out with chores. They also receive teaching in reading and writing pinyin and simple maths and other general subjects. There are often planned outings with an educational theme. Two of the children have been taught an income-producing activity and are able to earn some money for themselves.
The change in the children as a result of care and love has been remarkable. Our team member writes of one young girl who has serious spina bifida. She came to them when she was four years old and could not talk and refused to eat. She was self-abusive and easily frustrated. After a year and a half of persistence, involving bottle-feeding, she was able to eat. During this period she also required an operation on her foot to increase mobility. She is now six and our co-worker reports that, “she now eats a wide range of foods and is talking and very vocal. She loves singing and remembers tunes and songs. She can do most things for herself and is proving to be quite quick in learning her maths and reading … All self-abuse has gone and she is a most affectionate child”.
We have seen the need in the local community to train parents to look after their special needs children at home. The city and surrounding area they live in has about 4 million people and we have found a facility in the city centre for the special needs training centre. There is still teaching and therapy equipment to be purchased, along with a kitchen bench and tables and chairs for the children. The plan is to employ two teachers initially who will receive training at the orphanage. It is hoped that other staff will come from local volunteers.
The initial courses run at the centre will focus on training for parents and teachers. This will involve relationship building with local hospitals and other facilities. It is hoped that the centre will initially serve 6-8 children, with courses for their parents. In time, it is hoped that number will grow to at least 20. If you would like to donate to this vital project please download the form and tick the box for our Nth West Project. Donations for this project are tax deductible in Australia.