MY MORNING WITH MADDIE
I walked into the classroom and saw that Maddie was particularly upset that day. I pulled her out to the gym for her weekly Occupational Therapy session, but I knew today would be tougher. I put my tasks aside, sat with her and just held her. She cried. I cried. I prayed to myself, “Dear God, there has to be a place for kids like Maddie. How do we make it better for her?”
You see, Maddie had significant developmental delays and had trouble keeping up with her peers. She was overwhelmed and struggled to participate in her classroom’s activities.
Her teachers? Frustrated.
Her parents? They had no other daycare options.
Maddie? Stressed, trying to self-soothe all day.
Everyone wanted advice but my therapeutic strategies kept hitting road blocks.
We have too many kids to give her that kind of attention.
We don’t have the space for that equipment.
We’re not able to implement visuals to communicate with her.
And so on…
When she turned 2½ years old, she was transitioned to the next classroom, where expectations were higher. Maddie became even more overwhelmed. Her parents, teachers, and I were at a loss.
The more I researched, the more I learned that a daycare center for kids like Maddie unfortunately does not exist in our area. Her Dad ultimately quit his job and stayed home with her. She thrived at home with her family’s guidance. However, she was missing out on opportunities to be around other children. And Dad eventually had to go back to work.
The day I sat and held Maddie in my lap, my crazy dream became a plan. Opening a daycare for kids with special needs was actually on my mind back in 2012 while applying to OT school. Though at that time, it felt like a random thought. I had no idea how badly it was needed in our community.
Maddie’s story is not uncommon. Wonderful teachers and beautiful daycare centers are all around us. But even the best daycares are simply not equipped for children who need more support. Every working parent should have a child care option that meets their child’s needs while providing for the family. Every child like Maddie needs a place where he/she is loved and understood.
Welcome to TOTS
Therapeutic Child Care Center, NFP
TOTS admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the center. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its policies and programs.