Max loves nursery

Quite simply Max adores nursery. A statement in itself that isn’t rare for a two year old but when we tell people Max attends nursery 4 days a week, people are often intrigued that a child with DS goes to nursery at all.

To be fair Max’s mummy working full time and the reason Max attends nursery is a rarity, with only 3% of working mums with a disabled child doing so (compared to 39% of mums with a non disabled child*) Often suitable childcare being the main issue, along with a lack of flexible employers.

In the UK, it’s illegal for a nursery to prevent a child with a disability in attending, but as two friends have experienced in recent months, nurseries can often find barriers to make it impossible for them to do so.

Max has attended a mainstream nursery since he was 9 months old and has thrived. The nursery he attends have been supportive since the start (which is why Max’s parents settled on this setting) There have of course been challenges for both parties as Max is the only child at the nursery with DS, so they’ve learnt as Max has developed.

Max not having any serious underlying health issues of course helps, although Max’s frequent illnesses has meant each one is normally followed by a period of extra medicine or change of routine that we’ve had to communicate and in trust to nursery to follow.

Max’s nursery in the main have been proactive in adapting activities to suit him. For example as Max was not standing until recently, meant nursery adapted painting so he could sit doing it and giving him the baby menu until last month as he wasn’t ready for the toddler finger food menu before.

Max is support at nursery by all his development support workers such as his Physio and Portage. They regularly visit him at nursery to monitor his progress and give advice to nursery. They all give glowing reports on each visit.

We’ve recently introduced a Communication book to update each other on observations on Max’s development, which is very important when a child’s development is so closely observed. It’s also been useful to find out when Max is pretending he can’t do something but will quite happily do the same activity elsewhere!

Lastly, why do we think Max enjoys nursery? Apart from him ruling it (all the kids know Max and every morning we have lots of kids saying hello) children with DS are known to learn better from their peers. This is certainly the case for Max who is often observed watching his friends and then trying to copy their actions.

Whilst we don’t know what the future holds for Max in terms of education, we know for the moment we have a happy two year old who loves nursery.

* Papworth Trust Disability Facts & Figures 2018

What on earth is Portage???

In the two years that Max has been born, I have learnt so much about a world I never knew existed. It’s a world full of the different types of therapies and support that exists to help a child classed as having additional needs, reach their full potential.

We are full immersed in this world as Max currently receives support from physiotherapy, speech and language (salt) the specialist hearing teacher for the deaf, a Communication group and Portage. The majority you can kinder work out what they are about but the one I get most asked about is Portage. Which is no surprise as it’s name doesn’t give much clues!

Portage essentially is play therapy, designed to support a child through play to work on key skills. It was pioneered back in 1969 in the town of Portage, Wisconsin and because it’s proven to be so effective, it’s been adopted by many countries around the world.

Max has an amazing Portage therapist, who visits him once a fortnight at home, as well as regularly at Nursery. She brings a massive bag of toys every time for Max to explore, which have been handpicked to whatever skill we are working on. Max knows this bag of toys is amazing and as soon as it arrives, he tries to delve into it to find out what treats are in store.

At the moment Max is working on signing “more” and “stop”. This week he played with bubbles and made shaving foam cakes to encourage him to join in, get messy and learn at the same time! Max loves these sessions and gets so much from them. What’s not to like about shaving foam cakes!”

We are also allowed to borrow toys from Portage, which is fab as it means we get a regular supply of toys that we don’t have to buy that entertain Max. Technically it does mean at the grand age of 2, Max already has homework each week!

But jokes aside, who doesn’t love homework if it involves playing? Everyone gets involved at home with Max’s homework like his big sister Amy. And for Max he’s just any other two year old, learning through play.