Reid is a giggly Kindergartner who likes seeing how things move and loves to help out around the house. He loads the dishwasher and enjoys making his own popcorn. Reid’s two favorite activities are playing with older sister, Jennie, and the family dog, Lucy. Reid was referred to Boone County Family Resources through the First Steps program when he was 7 months old and his support team has watched him blossom into a confident young man.
“It has been a pleasure working with Reid and his family while watching his progress,” says Kaila Jefferson-Betts, the family’s support coordinator. “Reid has a strong family support system with parents who advocate for what is best for him. Reid is learning to navigate his community gaining confidence and self-esteem due to his family’s support along with supports and services offered by BCFR.”
His mom, Debbie, credits his confidence to experiences with adapted therapeutic recreational therapy such as horseback riding, swimming and most recently adaptive ice skating. A volunteer-run program offered by the Jefferson City Figure Skating Club, adaptive ice skating gives school-aged kids with special needs an opportunity to improve skating skills, enjoy activities with their peers and participate in an annual ice show. Debbie, who skated when she was a child, saw this as a great way to work on core body strength during the winter months when swimming and horseback riding was not an option.
“He screamed the first three times we took him. He hated it,” says Debbie. “As a parent you wonder, do the skates hurt? Is he scared? Then Reid met a little girl at the ice rink. She’s a couple of years older than him and also has Down syndrome – Reid thought she was simply beautiful. That sealed the deal. When it was Reid’s turn to skate, he grabbed his helpers by the hand and practically dragged them to the ice saying, ‘Let’s go!’” Debbie says Reid gets better and better each time he skates – gaining confidence every step of the way. Reid has two volunteers that help him and provide body support during his time on the ice and provide a positive influence on Reid. “They are so happy to be there helping Reid and other kids. They see our kids as part of the community and that is so important,” says Debbie. “Other parents help provide a support network for each other. It has been an overall great experience.”
Without support from Boone County Family Resources, Debbie says activities like the adaptive skating and other forms of therapeutic recreation would be out of their budget. “These activities are so beneficial to Reid and are essential for him to keep progressing. We would consider these ‘luxury items’ and simply couldn’t afford to do as many activities.”
Another resource the family greatly appreciates is the Home Based Support Services (HBSS) coordinated through Boone County Family Resources. “The HBSS care is essential to our family,” says Debbie. “It allows Reid time to be around other people and it allows us time to do things for Reid, like research at the library and educate ourselves about options so we can try to figure out what’s best for our child.” Debbie also says that access to assistive technology items through the agency have opened up lots of possibilities for Reid for education and learning.
“When Reid was born, I wondered how people were going to accept him. How will he be treated by others?” says Debbie. “Everybody is part of the community and everyone has a vital role, no matter how large or how small. Seeing these kids with special needs as part of the community is important to everyone.”
And Reid is well on his way to establishing his role in our community.