Last week was quite a busy one at the Center. A number of parents came in for enquirers. This is usually a “worrying” time for a parent with a child with CP. Why? Schools are resuming in a few weeks, often times, the child say Ziim has her age mates moving into the next class or starting school, so the parent is at a loss at what to do with her. The parent goes from one school to another
You do not think of the government schools, the child is not seven yet so she cannot be accepted, the official age for primary one in government schools is seven years, there is no nursery government school. You go to school A, “Delia nursery primary school, with Montessori principles”. You meet with the head teacher, carrying your child. You indicate your intention. I want to register my child in this school. Which child? This one. Her face screws up in surprise . Yes, she has special needs, no she is not sitting yet, she is yet to have speech. Does she walk? I just told you that she is not sitting yet, at least unsupported. How old is she? She is six. Hm…she looks seven. No she is six, she turned six in June. She looks Ziim over, more like stares at her like something from another planet. Hm.. madam, we do not accept this sort of children in this school, we do not even know what to do with them. You thank her and walk out with as much dignity as you can muster, making sure you have a smile on your face, she must not know how much you hurt. You are not deterred, you try school B, “Blessed kids Montessori nursery primary school” This one has a christian sounding name you say to yourself, they could be more accommodating. You get exactly the same response, the only different is that the head teacher here pointed you to the direction of a powerful pastor that does deliverance on children with this type of thing. Your effort at educating her about “this type of thing” achieved little result if any. You try three more schools within your area, same story. You expand your coast, as in you go outside your locality, the story does not change. Big sigh.
Actually, the above “gist” was not about Ziim, but a child her age whose mother came to the Center last week. But it could have been Ziim, for the child’s stage developmentally in terms of gross motor function is on the same level with her. When we use the GMFCS to look at our children with CP, she falls under levels IV, you do not want to say V as that may be depressing. Even those in levels II and III are not welcomed with open arms in schools. Some schools accept them, but parents are made to pay so much that only very few parents can afford the fees. A parent told me that one of such schools is charging her N720,000 (seven hundred and twenty thousand Naira only) per term. How many of us can afford that— honestly
Your thought goes to “special” schools. Please let’s not go there, that may be a subject of another post. Let us focus on this mother for now. Someone pointed her to the direction of CpCenter. How is the school run, she asked me. This is not a school madam, in terms of the word school as we know. This is more of a therapy Center. We are making effort to work with the children to see how they can progress from say level IV to level III or level II. More like doing some sort of deliverance on the children, seeing how much of them we can set free from the clutches of CP, if you like setting them free from the captivity of CP, so that we can integrate them into schools. She seems to think about it for a while, then asks; do you do boarding? How do you mean? I mean if I can leave my child and come for visit weekly or bi-monthly? O that, no, the Center is open between 9a.m and 4p.m, week days only. Her face drops. She lives at Egbeda with her child with Cp and three other children. Her biggest worry now is what to do with her child to be able to keep her job, take care of her other children and still be a wife to her husband, she does not have a house help, the last one left a few weeks ago and she is yet to find another one.
I cannot say that I know exactly how she feels, but suffice it to say that I can feel her, like they say. We talked, more like I talked, I do not know how much impact what I “talked” made. But before she left she gave me a hug, more like she clung unto me, she told me that she loves her child. I let her know that I too worry about my child and that it is okay to worry sometimes. Of course there are so many things I worry about concerning Ziim, don’t we all do that, you may just say that ours is sort of special.