The importance of a good support network

The importance of a good support network
Martin Clavet is the father of Léonard, a 4yearold boy with a number of handicaps. His story shows that you can be a normal parent even if your child has special needs, especially when you have the right support network.
Martin Clavet is the father of Léonard, a 4-year-old boy with a number of handicaps. His story shows that you can be a normal parent even if your child has special needs, especially when you have the right support network.

My son has MEDNIK syndrome, a very rare genetic disease that has slowed his development. He can’t talk or walk. He needs a special walker to get around. Léo also has food allergies and cannot chew.

My wife is French. Her parents live in France, while my family is in Quebec City. Even though we’re far from our families, we have lots of help caring for Léo. My aunt Claudette lives close by and is a huge help. She takes Léo every Sunday. She’s become such an expert at taking care of him that sometimes she keeps him overnight! She makes him dance, has him listen to music, and takes him to the park. She knows how to make him laugh and he’s always happy to spend time with her. It gives us a breather and lets us refuel.

Through programs like the direct allocation program (service employment paycheque), we were also able to hire someone to take care of Léo for 20 hours a week when he was a baby. We were lucky because we found a physiotherapy student who would come up with games and exercises to strengthen his muscles.

Léo gets so much from everyone who takes care of him.

Also, ever since he was 18 months old, Léo has been going to a daycare for specialneeds kids. The daycare workers are amazing, and our son has access to physiotherapy and occupational therapy services. It breaks up his routine and helps him open up to the outside world. It’s a life-saver. It means that we can still work and lead normal lives like other parents.

And then, of course, there’s the medical personnel who teach us about how to give Léo the care he needs. Our son is a patient at the Complex Care Unit at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. There’s an on-call nurse that we can contact at any time if there’s a problem. We can also count on the CLSC social workers for help.

Léo gets so much from everyone who helps take care of him. They each have their own way of stimulating him. I think it’s because of their support that Léo is making progress every day.

 

Naitre et grandir.com

Source : Naître et grandir magazine, May–June 2017
Interview by Julie Leduc

 

Photo : Nicolas St-Germain