Who am I? My name is Sophia Manduca. I am a 20 year old female who can walk, talk, eat and breathe without outside help. My current worst afflictions are my grass allergies and my asthma. I am thankful for this, but it is not something I think about every day. However, my internship has brought my abilities into a new light. Most of the children I work with on a daily basis are not as lucky as I am. Many are wheelchair-ridden, some cannot speak, and a few need to be fed, as they cannot feed themselves. Working with these children firsthand has greatly increased my appreciation for my own normal-abledness, as well as increased my understanding of those who are differently-abled. While I do have experience working with children diagnosed with autism, Fragile X, social anxiety, and ADD and ADHD, the disabilities I currently am seeing through my internship are more severe than anything I have worked with before.
At first, I was a little disheartened that no matter how much time I put in, I could not get a child to speak the word “hello”. However, I have realized that perhaps for this child, saying hello is not the most important skill to develop. Perhaps, for this child, the fact that they have learned to better communicate through gestures, noises, and facial expressions is a victory in and of itself. In this case, it was a victory accomplished through the time and dedication by the staff I work with.
One large takeaway I will bring from this internship is that regardless of the severity of a disability, all children are still human and have the capacity to learn and develop.