When I was working in a daycare, I remember registering 2 sisters who were both on the autism spectrum. However, this was not what caught my attention. It was their father. He was an engineer but had quit his job to provide care and research resources for his daughters. I was amazed and bewildered because I assumed that both the government and our health care system would provide most of the care and resources. Although he had a social worker who provided information, he still had to filter all the information regarding schools, therapists, workshops and so on. Despite all this, he also did not get services immediately because there were long waiting lists. So what did he do while he was waiting? He stayed home to care for his girls. It wasn’t as simple as watching them. He researched and learned how to teach and stimulate them. This information was not handed to him. This seems to me the most daunting part since he went out on his own to find help while he waited for help and he didn’t have a background in education. It looked like there were many obstacles and bureaucracy before this man when all he needed was a guiding light. By the time I registered his girls, he had already spent just over a year with them at home. He was actually very cautious when I had called to say I had 2 places to offer him. He came in without his girls to visit the daycare and to tell me in person he was taking the places. I only found out when he came back to sign the contracts that his girls were on the autism spectrum. The day of the contract signing he had come in with his social worker who I believe had advised him to put his girls’ names on daycare waiting lists but to not mention their situation. I think they were afraid daycares would blacklist them because of the extra paper work and challenges the situation would involve. To be honest, I had no idea what tasks were ahead of me. There are no handbooks or guidelines. The social worker wasn’t just helping this father as she was helping me too. The social worker gave me guidelines for what the 2 girls needed and informed me what the government limitations were. I couldn’t understand why this father wanted his girls in a “normal” group setting. Why did he want to put his girls in a daycare rather than a special needs classroom? It turns out he needed them to learn how to integrate and his girls were still on waiting lists for special needs schools. He had to start somewhere. Though I registered his girls, they didn’t start immediately. We had to wait for a shadow to be hired. In the end, we were just a facility provider. The educators were not trained for special needs education. The main goal for these girls was for us to go about our regular routines so the 2 girls could integrate and learn to be a part of a “normal” classroom setting.
Every step of the process was a learning experience. Every time I would make a step, there was another step ahead that I didn’t know existed.