Amelia was born at 26 weeks gestation. She is 4 years and must be strapped into a special chair. She can hold her head a little bit but it tends to fall to the side and away from the back of her chair. She can smile and giggle. She expresses emotion and makes sounds but I cannot tell yet what they mean. She’s a beautiful girl. When the children are in centers she must stay in her chair or be put down on the carpet where she lays down. She can’t sit on her own. She needs to be monitored closely because some of the more aggressive students move towards her and might hurt her. When we move outside the teacher assistant pushed her towards the covered area that had the swings under it. It is an enormous tent with ample space outside of the space allotted for the swings. The teacher assistant moved Amelia to the mats on the ground and sat with her. Amelia laid on the mat and listened to the birds chirp. The assistant teacher read stories to other children that came to visit her on the mat and Amelia could hear them. She smiled and cooed. She stayed in the same position until the teacher assistant moved her. She placed in back in the chair when it was time to go inside. Amelia was the last to enter the classroom. The teacher assistant cleaned her face and wiped her to remove the sweat on her from being outdoors. She spoke so sweetly to Amelia. As the students transitioned to lunch the teacher assistant volunteered to feed her. Amelia has a feeding tube in her stomach but can eat some foods with a lot of assistance. She had what looked to be baby cereal in a small bowl. For the next twenty minutes the teacher assistant patiently fed her. It was a lot of work for Amelia to swallow each bite. But together they got through it and she ate every bite. The teacher assistant encouraged her and smiled at her. She was so patient. It took almost thirty minutes for Amelia to eat this small bowl. The teacher assistant cleaned Amelia’s face and tended to the changing Amelia’s diaper for nap time. After she did this Amelia was placed on a mat on the floor for nap time. I was asked to sit a chair beside her and make sure she did not kick the cubbies or spit up or choke while she rested. Amelia has to be monitored during rest time because she does not fall asleep and can quickly choke on the food she has just eaten.
I take for granted my able body most of the time. I have had injuries but never anything like Amelia experiences daily. I have always been able to feed myself and do not have concern about choking during my sleep. I take this ability for granted. I have never had a child in my class with these types of disabilities nor have I had more than one child that I had to sit beside during nap time. I did not realize how easy this was until I witnessed all the different needs of the students in this class. There are so many things that can “go wrong” and it completely out of everyone’s control. Students are not doing these things on purpose it is just how their body is. As someone who loves to dance, not being able to move and eat by myself causes great distress to even just think about it.