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Another through the eyes of my own.

Long title, but I felt some what enlightened  wordy today.

On Thursday, I finished my volunteering placement and honestly, it was really great. I’ve met a lot of people, and I’ve come across a lot of children, many of whom have disabilities and whom have made a lasting impression on me. There were these two twin girls and both came in with their mum on all three days. During the first two days I noticed signs of flapping, and no eye contact and one of the twin even ¬†mumbling a word or a phrase over and over again. My mind instantly flashed ‘Autism’ but I didn’t want to make judgements nor jump to conclusions but as I was interacting with other children whilst they were near, it was apparent that they were- and I am not saying this in a total judgemental way like everyone who does this have autism but because I kind of compared their behaviour to my brothers.

During the second day, I was in a room with one of the twins who stumbled across an ‘In the Night Garden’ jigsaw and she sat down, completing it whilst uttering ‘Makka Pakka’ and ‘Upsy Daisy’ (both characters from the show). Her mum then came into the room, looking for her and she was really nice, it was the first time I saw her. She quickly told me that both her daughters had autism and their latest obsession was In the Night Garden and I couldn’t stop smiling throughout. I haven’t come across another child or anyone for that matter who also had autism. What made me smile even more was the fact that they were both the same age as my brother. Their mum even told me that they’ve begun to mumble the names of the character even though she’s been trying to get them to say mummy or daddy and it’s here were we both cracked up in laughter.

It’s amazing because looking at both of the twins, their behaviour is really really similar to that of my brothers however, they’re very different too, with speech being the main concern. They were able to mimic whilst my brother can’t. They would play with toys that don’t exert sound, my brother only plays with toys which make sounds. I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the day for some reason. Throughout the day, I tried to make attempts to see whether they would respond to me but they didn’t which I was completely fine with. However, something happened on the last day of my placement.

On Thursday, I was instructed by one of the play leaders to supervise a station which had this big inflatable slide which you had to climb and then slide down to. It also had these big plastic wobbly bits to run through and a ball pit to jump in and get out of, kind if like an obstacle course. Diverting a bit, I was so scared to climb on top, I didn’t so big floaty slides but I thought ‘what the heck?’. It took me THREE attempts to get to the top, whilst it only took the kids one try. I had to sit at the top and see that the children got down the slide slowly. So there I was, doing my thing whilst interacting with one of the children when suddenly, one of the twin comes up.

At first, I say hello and naturally she didn’t even look up, she just slid down. When she came back up again, I thought I’d try something different. I don’t know, I guess I wanted her to respond. With my brother, it was easy because of all the intensive interaction but meeting someone with the same condition and being the same age as my brother, I knew that she wouldn’t respond but I don’t know, I was intrigued I guess. So as she went down, I yelled out ‘WHEEEE’ and as she hit the bottom, she looked at me. She actually looked at me. When she came back again, I did the same thing, and she laughed and looked at me again. The third time around, I yelled it again, she laughed and looked at me but before she slid down, she yelled it too.

And I don’t know, words couldn’t describe how I felt but simply put, it made my day.

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Volunteering!

Today, I volunteered at this centre which allows parents with disabled children come in and keep an eyes on their loved ones whilst they play. The main part of my job is to play with them and to supervise with them. This scheme runs 3 days a week, during term time. I heard about this from my best friend who volunteered during last term and I thought it would be really cool to do it too! Today was my first day and I’ll have to admit, I was as nervous as… anything.

I arrived probably 10 minutes before we were to start and arrived in a middle of a pep talk given by the scheme leader to all the volunteers. She then introduced me to everyone and bam, I was left to fend for myself. She basically said that everyone needs to be at different stations so I stuck to the one closest to the door, the ball pit. It was a bit awkward at first because no children were going in and was just left standing there, and looking around. When a child did go in, I didn’t know whether to interact with them or anything because.. I don’t know really. And then 15 minutes later, I got moved to another station. And I got moved to the bouncy castle. And I think it’s from the bouncy castle is when I started to get a bit comfortable. Because something just clicked in my head.

I thought “eh, I’m just gonna do my own thing,” and then started interacting with the kids and being all silly, I mean why not you know? I thought at first, it’ll just have to be just supervising them because a few other volunteers were just sitting there and I thought, let’s just copy them. But come afternoon, it completely changed and by the end of the day, I was completely drained out!

There was this one boy, I can’t remember his name but I think he had severe cerebal palsy? Not sure, because I don’t exactly know but he did have trouble walking and sometimes he would have to crawl and he was playing on his own and I just felt really upset. All the kids were playing with eachother and here he was in this one room, playing on his own. I then saw him trying to go to another room so he grabbed a hold of my hand and I took him into this room with a CD player and I sat with him, and saw him putting the CD in and taking it out repeatedly whilst saliva was coming out of his mouth. Obviously I wiped it for him. Even though he was just doing the same thing over and over again, I just felt like I had to be there because no one else was. I didn’t want to leave him alone. Also, he tapped my head at one point and was smiling and that kind of touched my heart a bit.

I had to go to the toilet because I get a bit… OCD when it comes to germs and such and because I was wiping his saliva and a bit got onto my hands, I really needed to wash them before I lost my mind and there was no one else around so I quickly went to the toilets which weren’t far. Whilst I was in the toilets washing my hands, I felt incredibly guilty for just leaving him alone so I hurried back but then I remembered, in the video games room, some boys were fighting over the Playstation and I did tell them that when I came back, thats when they had to swap. So I went back, sorted that out and yet, when I came to check on him, he was gone. I asked my best friend where he went but she had no clue but we assumed that his mum came over to pick him up.

Even though this happened, I just felt incredibly guilty. I know it’s not my fault but it’s the fact that he was alone, and I left him alone. Like who knows, the whole day he was probably playing alone. When the guy with the reptiles came in, most of the children and parents gathered round to see them but when I got told to kind of supervise the back rooms and saw him playing on his own, I just felt… upset. But there was nothing I could do but get on with my job so I did but I knew that it was something I’d remember for a while.

I spent the afternoon staying away from the reptiles and back to the ball pit, where I interacting with this girl and her brother. Her brother had cerebal palsy in his leg, and he even told me that too and I was surprised really- the fact that he told me considering I was the newbie. I wanted to think of something witty to say, something that would make him feel better but in the end, I came out with “Let’s see if you can chase your sister in the ball pit,” and he did. It was great. We hid things in the ball pit and took turns to find them, we pretended to be animals stuck inside, they wanted me to push them in so I did, it was great fun! They were one of the last families to leave and you know when you made an impact of a little child when they come up to you and hug you tightly, asking whether you’ll be back on Thursday. And it just made my whole day. And I honestly can’t wait to see them again.

I think there are some aspects of the day where it did hit me hard and I did find it uncomfortable. What I found most hard was dealing with children who had conditions which I didn’t know how to handle. And seeing some children play alone. Another thing that I found hard was socialising with the other volunteers. Sure, I was able to socialise with some but I think there are a few which maybe I could have made more effort but my shyness held me back? Maybe they were shy themselves and held themselves back? I don’t know but I think when you’re comfortable with those around you, that’s when your at your best, and that’s when you enjoy what you do. Tomorrow, I will definitely make a greater effort with the socialising with the other volunteers. ¬†Despite this, there were good times and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow and revisit them.

Tomorrow, I’m donating a toy bike to them. It belonged to my brother but he doesn’t use it any more. To be honest, he never really used it in the first place. It’s still use able and robust but the fact that I’ll have to carry it with me tomorrow and take it in is a bit nerve wracking. Like, i’ll just turn up with a car and everyone’s just staring at me and I’m like “PLEASE, I SWEAR I AM NORMAL I AM JUST DONATING A TOY CAR FOR THE SAKE OF THE CHILDREN!” Q~Q

I hope they take it in though o-o I don’t want to carry it back to the car!