Isabella and Jenny
Earlier this year, before there was even a hint of a diagnosis, Isabella was referred to the Portage team. I had never heard of it before, but now it is our most important appointment every week. So what is it? . . .
Portage is a home visiting educational service for pre-school children with additional needs. In short, we call it special play time.
Our Portage home visitor is Jenny and she comes once a week during term time and spends at least an hour playing with Isabella. It is not just any old play though, it is completely specific to Isabella’s skills and focuses on her retaining these skills for as long as possible. Repetitive play is the key.
When Jenny first came to visit I was completely at a loss when it came to play. I tried everything that I could think of but Isabella was no longer interested in most of her toys and would not play by herself at all. The only thing she wanted to do was take bricks out of a box and pass them to me. I spent day after day trying to encourage her but nothing would work.
Jenny has many years of experience and knew exactly where to start and gave me lots of ideas to start working with. Our first task was to put together a special play box with around six different activities in. These include a box of six bricks, musical instruments, glove puppets and objects to represent songs. Each item is played with in a specific way and encourages different types of play. The repetition of play means that Isabella anticipates what happens next so for example when the glove puppets come out, she knows to hold their hands as we then sing ‘Ring-A-Ring-A-Roses’. With the box of bricks, she takes them out one by one and passes them to me, like she was doing before, but then she takes the bricks back again and puts them back in the box.
It might sound like no big deal to most parents but to a parent of a child with Tay-Sachs, this is a big achievement. Isabella will gradually loose these skills but for the moment as she holds onto them and occasionally gains new ones we can only rejoice.
Portage is always such a positive experience, we focus on what Isabella CAN DO rather than medical appointments that talk about what she can no longer do. We look forward to Jenny coming to play each week, it keeps me going to face the challenges that we face for the rest of the week and for Isabella it is simply fun.
Thank you Jenny and thank you Portage.
For more information please see Portage’s website