My son Pablo is bilingual. He speaks both Spanish and English. He’s always telling jokes, especially knock-knock jokes. He has a sense of humor beyond his age. He is always smiling and upbeat. Sometimes he laughs so hard he can barely catch his breath. He makes friends quickly.
When Pablo was two months old, he caught pneumonia and had complications, including an infection in his brain which caused him to have cerebral palsy. My son, who was born perfectly healthy, would now have a much different life. When someone has cerebral palsy, it means that because of an injury to their brain they are not able to use some of their muscles in the normal way. Children with cerebral palsy may not be able to walk, talk, eat or play in the same ways as most other children.
Pablo is now 10 years old and in third grade. He uses a wheelchair to get around and speaks through a computer called a DynaVox. We program the computer with his favorite phrases. He can also spell out other sentences that he wants to say. At home, he uses the computer to speak Spanish and at school, English.
Fraser helps me to care for Pablo and to manage the paperwork involved with having a child with special needs. Through Fraser Home and Community Supports, a direct support professional (DSP) comes to our house each week. Pablo’s DSP, Erin, comes on the weekends to give me a break from caring for all of Pablo’s needs. Fraser sets goals for Pablo and Erin works with him on developing skills such as math, reading or telling time. She works with him on things that he is learning in school. She also works with him on fine motor skills like eating with a fork. Pablo often impresses people with what he can do.
Erin is also really great about finding things in the community for Pablo to do. They often go to the zoo, the park, or swimming. And, he’s famous at the Mall of America where he goes nearly every weekend. Whenever he’s there, people recognize him and say, “Pablo! Pablo! How’s it going?” Sometimes Erin arranges for Pablo to get together with a friend who also has cerebral palsy. The two children enjoy each other’s company and have a great time.
Pablo is just like other boys his age. He enjoys the same activities. He’s mad about swimming and loves playing the drums. He’s saving his extra lunch money to go to an amusement park and ride the rides. When we visit his grandparents in Mexico, he loves to go horseback riding, work with the cows and play in the dirt. He enjoys playing with his cousins.
My hope for Pablo is that he’ll be as independent as possible as he gets older. I hope that he will be able to feed himself and to take care of his personal hygiene. To other parents of children with special needs, I would say to support the child as much as you can. Find different ways to help and support him.
- Pablo's mother