Mila is 4 years old and has Down Syndrome. In 2020 Mila started attending Learning Links Preschool, where she receives support and individualised care. Mila’s mum and dad spoke to Learning Links about what Learning Links Preschool means for Mila’s education.
This story was written by Mila’s mum and dad.
Mila was diagnosed with Down Syndrome when I was 12 weeks pregnant. Knowing Mila’s diagnosis before she was born allowed us to prepare and get started with support and ideas very early. We started early intervention and therapies for her when she was three months old. We knew that low muscle tone associated with Down Syndrome would make her early childhood development more difficult. She did physiotherapy to help strengthen and develop her muscles to be able to crawl and walk, occupational therapy to help her learn to hold and use items, such as grasp a spoon or a bottle for feeding, and speech therapy to work mouth muscles and encourage vocalisation. We also enrolled her in early intervention playgroup to help encourage social skills and work on all the things we were learning with her therapists.
Mila began attending the Learning Links Preschool this year. She has worked with Lauren and Hannah, the occupational and speech therapists, every Thursday while in her class. Mila has come along in leaps and bounds. She is happy to go to preschool and has grown in confidence in so many ways. She started off only staying in the lower end of the playground but now wants to venture up to the fort, where she gives her educators a huge smile as they push her on the swing!
She has learnt to hold her water bottle by herself this year, a huge milestone for her! Mila is confident interacting with her educators and the other children and loves to have a dance once any music comes on.
As Mila is an only child, we wanted her to gain social skills and confidence in a school setting without us there, for her to learn to adapt to following instructions and enjoy spending time with her peers. For us as her parents it was a big decision to send Mila to preschool, but we realised very early on that this is the perfect place for her – a place filled with people who have gotten to know what Mila is really like and to help her learn and develop her milestones through support, encouragement and kindness. Mila is a sensitive soul and the educators’ approach has been to help her grow in accordance with what she can handle while gently pushing her to new heights.
As parents, Mila’s growth has given us the confidence to follow our instincts. Knowing she is able to enjoy opportunities without us present gives us confidence that her future is bright.
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