Does my child need school?
Should my special needs child go to daycare or stay at home with me? Razia Hisham weighs the choices.

Once again the question of whether Nura should be attending school has come up. It’s not actually school as she is profoundly disabled (physically and mentally), but a care facility/daycare.

If she were a typical child she would have been in Grade 1 this year. I keep getting asked which school she goes to as if she should automatically be in one. She never attended nursery school so why should we consider this now?

I am at home with her, caring for and looking after her. I take her to her various therapies These include physiotherapy, visual therapy, equine-therapy (horse riding – in Nura’s case she ‘rides’ a pony), feeding specialist and aqua-therapy. I also do her home exercises with her.

She is constantly stimulated and loves being out and having her cousins around her. She can scream and shout and get wildly excited with the best of them.

Is professional care better?

But am I doing her a disservice by keeping her at home? Would she get better, more professional care if she attended a daycare? Am I robbing her of vital social interaction by trying to protect her from the world? Or am I just trying my utmost to control her world? Confusion reigns. The daycare would of course be costly, but should that even be a consideration?

The positives of Nura being home ‘schooled’: she hardly ever gets sick as she is not exposed to créche syndrome, her days are filled with love and care and attention to her every need by a doting mother and family.

The negatives: she doesn’t have contact with other kids all the time, no resident physio, occupational therapist etc. Her needs are so specific yet so scheduled that she is not too difficult to look after. Am I robbing her of this experience?

The daycare facilities I have investigated run till about 12.30pm Monday-Friday and they follow school terms. She is definitely not a baby anymore and my little girl is more and more present. My niece got the terminology wrong and instead of saying Nura is disabled she proclaimed Nura to be her only unstable cousin. In deciphering what she meant we actually came to the conclusion that Nura is the only stable one amongst us – we are all unstable.

My niece is also very proud that she is starting to learn Nura’s language – all the sounds and shrieks Nura voices. If one child can be so supportive and loving, maybe Nura would like to be surrounded by a class full of special friends. Unfortunately she cannot tell me what she wants. 

How important is it for children – disabled or not – to be with other children?

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