Helping parents of children with disabilities grow with them

Here at Early Stimulation Plus, we don’t just get to see the children grow, we get to see the parents grow too. Because some are in denial that “there is nothing wrong with my child.”

But your child does have challenges, and so do you; and together you need our help. 

Our school works a lot with the parents, including  parenting workshops, where we cover everything from potty-training to feeding. When parents can go and hear others tell their story of what they have been through – from pregnancy through delivery up to  now – and then yourself as a previously reluctant parent share, then you gain a little extra bit of strength, because you get to meet others with similar challenges.

Photograph of Nadine Bowen, a teacher at Early Stimulation Plus in Rockfort, eastern Kingston.
UNICEF Jamaica/2019/Hakeem HunterNadine Bowen

Starts with parents seeking help

From there it’s real joy and satisfaction when parents tell us, “I hear them say something!” or “I hear them make a sound!”

Each term, we have a goal sheet where we write down for each month the goals we want to achieve for each child: whether it be say something, to sit up or to pay attention for a few minutes.

A child may not be able to count or to say a sound but to see them coming to school and even just for them to stretch out a hand to take a crayon or hold up their head – that’s a great opportunity for us.

Joy in seeing families making progress

For some of the children, it’s their first time ever being in a school setting, and they’ll cry the first month or two. This one girl she cried so much I got headaches, but to see her now settling in and trying to hold up her head…words can’t explain how that makes me feel.

I am really blessed to be at Early Stimulation Plus, because I was teaching regular children before. Now I can see a child outside and identify that the child has a disability, without even the parents saying anything to me, because of the experience I have been through. 

Sadly, some people do lock away their children because they don’t know what to, they don’t know how to cope and they are ashamed. Even when they are told there is somewhere you can go for help, you still really have to push those parents to come out.

Sky is the limit for them

Yet, among our scholars coming out of here we have some going to regular schools like Jamaica College, because with intervention every child can excel. And any parent can go on their phone and search for information about a disability and once they can read and learn about it, then the sky really is the limit.

UNICEF spoke with Nadine during the filming of our Parenting masterclass video for families of children with disabilities. You can see more stories like this on our Facebook and Instagram pages, part of our #iAmAbleJA campaign with the Digicel Jamaica Foundation and the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities. #iAmAbleJA urges Government to protect and promote the lives of Jamaican children with disabilities by enforcing the Disabilities Act 2014; and invites families to register with the JCPD to access benefits.


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