Oliver’s mother tells in her own words how OCTC’s assistance changed their lives:
“While staying at Roger’s House with our daughter Zoey, who was in palliative care, we were able to observe other children similar to our “little angel.” It was during one of our stays at Roger’s House that we met Oliver. We came off the elevator and looked down at Zoey. Beside her was a skinny bald baby boy reaching for her hand, giggling and trying desperately to get her attention. The instant we looked at him, we fell in love and as we heard the words “foster mother” being mentioned when referring to Oliver, we felt the urgency to make it known that we would love the opportunity to adopt him. Within 15 minutes of us saying this, Oliver’s Children’s Aid Society worker contacted us. Nine months later, Oliver was officially part of our family.
“When speaking to medical professionals about Oliver, it became evident that he had cerebral palsy. He underwent a very traumatic birth and was at one point pronounced dead. However, Oliver, somewhere, somehow, found the strength to survive and we are thrilled he did. From birth, he had difficulty feeding, was extremely irritable, and very sensitive to his surroundings. At seven months, he required surgery for a G-Tube and a fundoplication (oesophagus and stomach operation). Although many tried to speak to us about how demanding his care was going to be, we felt strongly that with our experience in caring for Zoey, we were prepared to take on another child with exceptional needs. The reason this decision was easy for us was because we were aware of the services in the community that could assist us in ensuring Oliver was given every opportunity to thrive and reach his full potential.
“When you are faced with having to care for a child who is medically fragile, it can be both overwhelming and life changing. You have to make numerous decisions with respect to treatment options, therapeutic interventions and possible surgeries. Faced with such decisions, it is comforting to know you are dealing with specialists who have not only a great deal of experience, but also the ability to make you realize you are not alone in this journey through understanding and acceptance of your child’s diagnosis and prognosis.
“Our family relocated from Sudbury to the Ottawa area in order to be closer to all the child specialists. As a result, we also became involved with the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre. The second we met with the OCTC team, we knew Oliver would be in good hands. Oliver has come a very long way and, incredibly, has overcome many of his original struggles.
“The greatest part of all is that the staff at OCTC have not only recognized Oliver’s abilities, but they have embraced his determination, strength and commitment, and in return, helped foster his independence. This past year, the speech pathologist determined that Oliver had a great understanding of his surroundings and was able to communicate by using his eyes. After a few months of further assessment, the team believed that the best form of communication device for Oliver would be an eye gaze system. The Dynavox EyeMax Communication Device has never been used by such a young child at OCTC. In fact, Oliver was the first three-year old in Ottawa for whom such a device was ordered. Now at age four, Oliver uses his Dynavox to communicate with us, his teachers, therapists and everyone that comes into contact with him.
“In addition to this, the staff at OCTC believed that Oliver had the ability to utilize a motorized wheelchair. Within 15 minutes of assessing him, they determined that he was more than ready to start training.
“Oliver currently attends the kindergarten program at OCTC and we cannot tell you how impressed and excited we are that he is. Each day we get a full report as to how his day went. We have also received many pictures not only of Oliver, but of his classmates and the activities they engage in throughout the week. The teachers are in regular contact with us and they continue to challenge Oliver and promote his growth and awareness of the world. Oliver is doing all of the activities that typical children are doing in school such as learning the alphabet and numbers, plus he is receiving all of his therapies on site. In addition to this, Oliver recently started training on a motorized wheelchair. All of this happens during the week, while he is at the OCTC school. As you can imagine, this is not only convenient, but allows Oliver the opportunity to receive his entire care at one location. It is amazing that OCTC is able to provide this intensive training, support, education and therapy to all of the children who attend the school.
“As a parent of a child who is differently-abled, I can honestly say that the service, care and support given by the staff at OCTC are incredible. These individuals are knowledgeable, skilled, and equipped not only to assess the children, but also to provide parents with the training they need to help their children through some of the most challenging times in their lives. We are so thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with numerous therapists at OCTC and have no doubt in our mind that with their expertise, our son has been able to shine and truly meet his full potential. Oliver is a happy, content, determined and loving little guy who would be more than happy to tell you how very thrilled he is to have the team at OCTC on his side helping him and cheering him on in his accomplishments. The smile on his face says it all.