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Inclusive Outcomes through Specialist Equipment

3 November 2020

Lucas started his journey at Cubby House for Kids, Townsend, when he was a baby. When it became evident that he would require support to develop the physical skills to be autonomous and independent, we worked with our Inclusion Professional to develop a Strategic Inclusion Plan and accessed equipment from the Specialist Equipment Library.

Throughout his years with us, Lucas has been supported to use many different pieces of equipment including: ankle foot orthoses (AFO); floor sitters; giraffe chairs; and a standing frame. Each time, Lucas actively participated in the experience, sometimes with a little trepidation. Educators and therapists were excited to see his physical skills progress and his confidence and communication blossom.

The first time Lucas used the Jenx Monkey stand, he experienced a whole new perspective on the world. He could stand upright, just like his friends who were excited to play with him. Lucas was included in everything, and the frame enabled him to be able to stand to paint, explore different experiences and play alongside his peers in games.

As Lucas got older and more confident in his physicality, he was able to explore his environment more independently. His AFOs supported his growing leg muscles, and he started to pull himself to stand and use furniture to support himself. Although non-verbal, Lucas was exerting his autonomy and making his own choices, sharing his excitement through his body language, facial expressions, and happy vocalisations.

More recently, whilst helpful for physical support, using the standing frame was becoming a challenge. When Lucas saw the frame being wheeled out, he would immediately crawl in the other direction, protesting loudly. When being placed in the stand, he would actively attempt to move away, and his vocalisations left us in no doubt of his wishes.

This created a difficult dilemma for educators…

  • Should we continue to use a piece of equipment recommended for use every day to support him physically, or should we act on what Lucas is telling us about his likes, opinions and needs?
  • How can we balance his physical development needs with supporting his agency and respecting his rights?

On reflection, we acknowledged that Lucas’ skills had developed. He is now able to pull himself up to stand using furniture and maintain his position and was communicating clearly that he did not want to use the standing frame. Perhaps the standing frame was no longer required to support Lucas to engage in program activities alongside his peers.

We discussed this with his mum and physiotherapist and agreed that it wasn’t our decision to make. The decision had already been made by Lucas. All we needed to do was honour and respect what he was telling us so clearly and continue to review and adapt our practices to ensure Lucas is supported to participate in the program with his friends.

An Inclusion Success Story at Cubby House for Kids

What has been achieved?

A range of specialist equipment has been utilised to support Lucas’ inclusion.

  • The team’s confidence, skills and knowledge around inclusive practice and collaboration have grown immensely.
  • Lucas’s mother has been able to work and be actively involved in her community.
  • Friendships have developed between children of all abilities, benefitting Lucas and his peers.
  • Lucas’s family feel confident due to his positive experiences in early childhood and Lucas will start at his local mainstream school alongside friends from Cubby House Kids in 2022.
  • Transition planning is underway for Lucas to attend OSHC close to his mother’s work in 2022.