The peace and joy planted in our hearts by the smiles on the faces of children with special needs and their families was the fuel we needed to continue the year.

For theirs is the kingdom of heaven

By Daniella Daou

Smiles, crowns, genuine tears, and renewed hope: this is what we witnessed this year at SKILD. As our kings and queens were crowned at February’s Night to Shine, they walked down the red carpet into their kingdom, the kingdom that Jesus called them into, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The peace and joy planted in our hearts by the smiles on the faces of children with special needs and their families was the fuel we needed to continue the year.

When parents learn about a special needs case within the family, the entire focus shifts to the child and they are forgotten about while they struggle with denial, frustration, feelings of failure, and marital challenges that arise as a result. A mother of two children with cognitive and developmental delays came to the support group devastated, negative, vulnerable, and stuck. A nurse, she comes home late at night after a full shift to do the housework, cook, tutor her children, and spend time with her husband. After sitting with the other moms for two gatherings and sharing stories with them, the advice they gave her from their own experiences turned her tears and frustration into renewed hope which was evident in her changed lifestyle and attitude.

In an attempt to continue the education of children whose neurodevelopmental challenges prevented them from going to school, SKILD transformed the multi-sensory space of the center into an ABA kingdom (Applied Behavioral Analysis). Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other challenges learn, play, and enhance their skills in a school-like program where the center is their space to rule! Since January, the children have shown significant progress marked by their decreased numbers and intensity of tantrums and reaching goals higher than the ones set in their individual educational plans. From saying “I don’t like you” while demonstrating aggressive behavior to engaging in small conversations with the staff, the children are a daily reminder that change is not impossible. Although we are here to serve them, they serve us by humbling our hearts, bringing us joy and reminding us of the impact we are creating in their and their family members’ lives.

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