Little Beauties

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Yesterday we took our second trip to this absolutely amazing school for special needs children in a small city 3 hours away.

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This school was started ten years ago by two sisters, one of which had a
ten year old daughter with cerebral palsy who could not get any schooling elsewhere.

This problem is very common here, as any kind of disability excludes children from regular school, and only a select few can go to the limited spaces in the official special ed schools in the big cities.

From 9 am until 3 pm, our team of family medicine residents and graduates, a visiting OT and two lowly attendings saw a steady stream of children from 1 to 20+ years old.

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Diagnoses included Downs syndrome, Retts syndrome, congenital deafness, every variant of cerebral palsy, autism, and mystery genetic syndromes with developmental delays.

In contrast to our usual experience in orphanages, these parents and grandparents are highly motivated to help their kids improve, and this school has made an incredible difference for so many kids.

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Currently 100+ kids attend the school, and they are just moving into a brand new building thanks to support from the local chapter of the Disability Federation.

24 teachers, some with special education training and some with early childhood education training help these kids on a daily basis.

After our day’s work, we had one of the best team discussions with the director that I’ve ever been a part of here.

She was eager to know what our doctors observed, and how they could use that to do a more effective job with their families. She took notes on everything that our various team members said, and a number of our group contributed to a robust conversation.

Our awesome visiting pediatric occupational therapist is staying on for 2 more days to do more intense training with the teachers and parents, as well as more evaluations of different kids.

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I can’t wait to hear what she has to say.

This kind of setup for helping special needs kids get what they need–privately run, but supported in part by government funds–may be a feasible model for other smaller cities in China where access to therapy is notoriously lacking.

I have a dream…

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