Image Credit: Jim Rankin
Community Living in Tillsonburg celebrated its fiftieth anniversary recently and some of the staff can remember a time when children with special needs had few opportunities. As recently as the late 1970s, most were home-schooled, sent away to an institution or kept in segregated classes if "allowed" to go to school.
Christian Taylor, born at 25 weeks, is the living example that things have changed. Weighing less than 1000 grams at birth, his initial prognosis was poor and he spent his first six months in hospital. Today, he is a very busy, happy, social little boy who shows no developmental delays. He has been able to learn sign language to communicate with the daycare workers and his only significant physical challenge comes from a tracheotomy, performed in April 2006. Being with outgoing little pals helps ensure Christian is stimulated.
Lori Smith, who works in the Community Living daycare centre, says, "Christian is right on the mark developmentally and all the kids here love him. They treat him the same except that they are maybe a little more gentle and sensitive with him. I think he teaches them empathy. We encourage him to be right in the centre of the action. And as the photo shows, Christian always is."