My son Adnan is the sunshine in my life. He is always happy and has the most beautiful smile in the world. He has a rare syndrome called PACS1 and he was diagnosed in 2013. He is the 3rd in the world with this condition. After he was diagnosed, I had a lot of questions about services and IEPs. I wondered: “What services could my child receive and what is available out there?” FRN helped me navigate the CCS system to make sure my son got the services he needed.
Adnan recently started talking. Inclusion and practicing his social skills have given my son his voice by providing him with that safe space has really turned his life around.
But when he was younger, I was visiting the library for a playgroup but we were asked to leave. My son was loud and it was sensory overload for him. It broke my heart that my child was not welcome in a public library - which is supposed to be open to all.
That is when the librarian apologized and understood where I was coming from. On the spot, I pitched the idea of starting a playgroup for our kids and he was very supportive. The Union City Library Sensory Playgroup started with five kids and now has 2-3 playgroups every month, plus a waitlist.
Every parent in our group knows the importance of a space where kids can participate, an opportunity outside of school, therapies and doctor appointments where they can learn, interact and socialize.
Parents of kids with special needs thirst for a safe space and a learning opportunity for their kids without worrying about being asked to leave if their kid gets loud. One mother recently told me that she looks forward to getting her child to the playgroup because she gets to see her kid interact, socialize and make friends, but she also does not have to worry about being judged or feel a pressure to perform.
The Sensory Playgroup is structured around a bunch of skills that our kids can work on while also providing them with fun and social playtime. We’re working on fine motor skills, gross motor skills, bilateral play, adaptive art, sensory play, structured story time using visual aids.
I have seen first-hand the positive impact a playgroup can have in your child’s life. This playgroup has helped my son to grow into a social butterfly who interacts, socializes and has given his self esteem a big boost.
Sameena is the warrior mom of two kids and her younger son has a rare disease and special health care needs. In addition to working at FRN, she co-runs the Union City Special Needs Library Playgroups.She enjoys working with families and helping them advocate for services. Sameena believes early intervention plays a key role in shaping a child's developmental curve.She is a strong advocate and is passionate about strengthening families in getting the supports they need. Sameena is a Bilingual Resource Counselor at FRN.