I’m not a morning person at all (Is anyone?) but I decided to steer away from my habitual sleep-ins for a great cause. My friend’s mum runs Little Souls, a not-for-profit early intervention and childcare centre for kids with autism aged two to six. Admittedly, I had no idea what it would be like to observe ABA therapists in action but having an insatiable curiosity for new experiences, the only way to silence the inquisitive mind is to dive into the unknown.
“She used to chew the mouse,” said Maria, an energetic ABA therapist.
I watched closely as Maddie clicked away and stared at the screen with much anticipation, each puzzle piece emerging to reveal an animal. This is a task designed to develop fine motor skills, something a typically developing children would learn by themselves. Just because it’s not cancer or leukemia doesn’t mean it’s any less detrimental to the young person and even more so to their families.
When we were heading out to the corridor, I listened as she tried her best to say “Open”. Suddenly, she reminded me of Maggie, a gorgeous little girl whom I met at the centre two years ago. Maggie had difficulty in speaking but she repeated every word her therapist said with so much enthusiasm that I was left in awe. Beware; her chubby cheeks and adorable curls might fool you into thinking that she is as delicate and soft as a feather… but she possesses the kind of fighting spirit and determination that is rare for one so young.
You can imagine my surprise, well you can’t imagine the look on my face, when I was told that Maggie could now speak and understand three languages at 6 years old.
Maggie’s story is truly inspiring and eye opening and it also offers hope to kids like Maddie. The amount of progress in two years is simply astonishing.
Being there, seeing and hearing everything first-hand is at once incredibly humbling and compelling. The awe-inspiring kids and staff bursting with energy and warmth define a fun, positive learning environment. I can’t help but ask myself: What are you afraid of? If Maggie can overcome such hurdles at a very young age and people tirelessly working together actually make a difference in their lives, why can’t you do the same? Why can’t we do the same?
For all we know, Maggie could be the next best simultaneous interpreter at the UN. The sky is the limit for our little souls!
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”