Owain’s mother explains how important the OCTC is in their lives. “We moved to Kanata with our daughter just three months before our precious Robert Emlyn Owain was born in 2009. Even with all the stress of the move, my pregnancy was uneventful apart from the fact that it would be a planned c-section. Owain had to have his breathing cleared after his birth, and as they finished caring for me, I got to see Owain briefly before they took him to an incubator. He was beautiful and peaceful. My husband went with him and was able to watch as, lying on his stomach, little Owain was lifting up his head to the delight of all the nurses. That settled the name question for us! Our Robert Emlyn Owain would be known first as Owain: in the Welsh meaning ‘young warrior’.
And yet, as my husband swelled with pride at our first son’s strength, he noticed something. We had seen Down Syndrome before, and as my husband looked at Owain, he wondered if that was what he was seeing. As I was recovering from the surgery, the hospital staff spoke to me about the possibility. How could it be, I thought, when I looked at Owain. He was perfect! I had a great sense of peace and over the next days, I could not figure what it was my husband said he saw and felt. Every night, my husband read everything he could find about Down Syndrome while I was still undecided. A week or so later, test results confirmed the diagnosis. Faced with the need to let our expectations go, we were left to wonder: Now What??? What does this mean and how do we do this so Owain has every chance in life he deserves?
I can’t tell you how OCTC knew about us, but immediately, we started getting phone calls. Our first contact was with an Early Childhood Consultant at OCTC. She told me she would come to the house and show me how to help Owain sit up properly, how to help him learn some fine motor skills and eventually crawl. She helped me to see things through Owain’s eyes: what was he looking at, where was his attention going to and “let’s bring it closer so he can see it”. The most important thing she said was “Owain is a baby first, one of his features is Down Syndrome, but he’s a baby.” That was so helpful. For a mom with a new baby with Down Syndrome everything can seem like such a fog. She was clearing that fog away as she stayed with us for a while and walked through different stages and rejoiced at each new milestone with us.
Through the Early Childhood Consultant, I heard about the Down Syndrome Picnic, the Buddy Walk, the golf tournament and I learned about the OCTC playgroup on Wednesday morning in Kanata that we attend along with Owain’s big sister. At the OCTC playgroup, I met two now very dear friends of ours that both have Down Syndrome children. It was so comforting to not feel so alone in this; there were other families out there too!
Very soon after Owain was born, we were in contact with a Clinical Social Worker at OCTC. We had no idea that there were different resources out there for us both financially and materially. It was a real blessing! It was like I did not need to think about anything else except my family; they took care of all the details that would have taken us years to even start to think about.
Once Owain was 4 months old, we started seeing an Occupational Therapist at OCTC. She has helped Owain with many different tasks using his fine and gross motor skills. She is a wonderful encourager for Owain and he enjoys her very much! At age 3, we are still seeing her every other week and he is growing so well. A physiotherapist at OCTC also taught us how to help Owain roll over, crawl and walk. She gave great pointers and different things to do to help him become more mobile. We also receive Speech Therapy services.
Today, Owain is learning his first spoken words and has accumulated quite a vocabulary in sign language. We recently met with OCTC staff and Owain’s Preschool teacher to keep everyone on the same page and to see how Owain is doing. We feel part of a team pursuing the same goals together. Owain spends two mornings a week at the Preschool, and has appointments with Speech Therapy and Occupational Therapy every other week.
Today, it is our experience that we are not alone as we take each step with Owain. We are blessed to have such wonderful and loving people working with Owain. And it is to OCTC’s credit that they stepped in right away and carried us where we needed to go from the moment Owain was diagnosed. They encourage us and reassure us, they are there for us and they always go the extra mile, over and above where they are required to go because they love children. Owain has had so much support to help him have the best start possible, and OCTC has been central to our experience that way.
Thank you OCTC!”