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Special Recreation Associations (SRA's)

"The Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association (NEDSRA) and inclusion has made an incredible difference in our lives"!!!

To find the Special Recreation Association serving you click here.

My grandson looks like a normal healthy child. Yet, a few years ago he was a nonverbal tantrum. He was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Dysfunction and possible PDD-NOS. All of his senses were affected…they were either extremely acute or numb sporadically. Therefore, he was easily distracted, extremely impulsive, and could not comprehend multi level instructions. He would freeze, melt or get so extremely frustrated that tantrums became the norm.

He began getting notes home; he kicked down the other kids legos, he crumpled up another child’s paper, he bit, he scratched, he threw things. No one but his therapist or myself could “control” his behavior. As a result, he was outcast by most of his peers, excused from daycare centers, and almost removed from our school district. 

Then we discovered (NEDSRA). The staff and programs are great. Ann  observed my grandson and determined he would benefit from a Leisure Buddy. Not only do these one on one assistants help children succeed in park district programs like swimming, dance, baseball, etc...but our NEDSRA workers made inclusion possible in the park district’s summer camp and daycare program!

Because my grandson had a Leisure Buddy at summer camp he eagerly blossomed. He was encouraged to participate in the group activities and crafts, he was given the confidence to learn to swim (and he loves water!), and he was coached to make friends.

But best yet, because he had such a successful summer at camp, we were able to convince his school to give it another try. They reversed their prior decision of placing him in a school for behavioral disordered children, and they kept him at his home school in the Least Restrictive Environment possible.

We also focused on finding a daycare center that could accept his special needs. We finally found Fun Time Junction, which is a park district program, so he was able to have a Leisure Buddy! This rare situation made inclusion possible in a "normal" daycare setting.

Finally…I could go to work rest assured my grandson was going to be safe and happy during the day. If he ever hesitated to join the group his buddy was always there with a big smile of confidence reassuring him he "can do it".

His buddy was truly one of his best friends, his mentor and his confidant...I so appreciate the respect, determination and creativity she showed him always and in all ways!

Our relationship with NEDSRA has grown, and my grandson participates in their Challenger Baseball, and Tae Kwon Do programs. A few years ago, I never could have imagined him sharing cooperatively with another child, or being a member of a team. Yet, during his first season of baseball he asked if we could buy T-shirts and helmets for “his team”. A child that didn't know how to play with one other child a year prior, was suddenly proud to be a member of an entire team!

Since he returned to school after his second summer camp season, his teacher and therapists are still amazed at how much he's matured. We’re finally getting more compliments than concerns, and he has more friends than passer bys, glares or whispers. He’s even getting invited to birthday parties and we’ve hosted sleepovers!

His favorite phrase just a couple years ago was “I can’t”, this year he was selected by his classmates to play the Blue Engine in the Little Engine That Could, and he did great!

I recently witnessed what I consider to be a miracle…him playing a game of musical chairs with no shoving or tantrums…he was laughing and playing with all the other children like any “normal” child! And we can finally take him to public places without my belly twisting with anxiety…he even went to a Cubs game!

If someone were to ask me how inclusion most affected my grandson, I’d have to say it gave him the confidence, courage and know how to be accepted, and accepting. If you were to ask his buddy, she’d probably tell you the experience inspired her to be a teacher’s assistant in a Special Ed classroom as she now pursues her Masters in Education.

Thank you NEDSRA...what a miraculous difference you have made in our life, in our buddy’s life, and in all the lives we’ll touch in the future!!!

To find the Special Recreation Association serving you click here.


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