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Friday, May 13, 2011

A Place to Belong


Names and other personal information from a Therapy Visit cannot be shared.

Chad Burgess, Carla Donovan-Burgess and Gopher are volunteers and do not officially represent any institution mentioned in these visits.

 The experiences, conversations are true and really took place the names of persons, if given have only been changed to protect the confidentiality of those we visit.

You know that feeling you get after going someplace new for a while, whether it is work for school and you’re not sure when it happened, but you suddenly realize you belong there. Gopher and I have that feeling now at one of our facilities, not sure when it happened, but now we both feel like we belong there. Gopher directs me down the hall to sign in and back to our room where the visits take place with no direction from me.

Another thing that I am pleased to report is his presence has matured in the therapy setting. He now stays acutely
focused on me and waits more patiently for my direction. With the slightest flick of my finger I am able to tell him to go and say hi to someone. He will sometimes look at me while doing this and I will say, “Its okay, say hello” then he will turn his head and give the visitor the full attention of his precious brown eyes.

In the time we have had to take in adjusting to our role in this facility, we also were able to watch a little girl take the time to get adjusted to us. Dualla is only three years old and has Downs Syndrome, as with many children born with Downs she has had to have multiple surgeries to repair other birth defects. Gopher and I have seen Dualla at nearly every single visit we have had over the past three months. She always smiles at me and Gopher and blows kisses to Gopher on her own and when asked to do so by her Mom. Both Mom and I always ask Dualla every time and sometimes multiple times in a single visit if she would like to see Gopher. She always answers us with a very emphatic shaking her head no.

Dualla still always insisted on seeing Gopher, but only from afar. She would refuse to visit with him directly any time either of us asked, but she would always blow him kisses and get excited to see him. Then after nearly 8 weeks of solid visits something else had changed. I met Dualla as soon as I walked in, and she was so excited, a little more than normal to see Gopher. I said Hi to Dualla and her mother and told them I would be in the room in a moment, after I had signed in for the day.

When Gopher and I returned to the room, Dualla and her mother and father were waiting. She nearly jumped out of her chair and we didn’t even have to ask if she wanted to see Gopher as she crawled over to him. After 8 weeks of not wanting him to be too close, Dualla would spend the next forty-five minutes, loving him and playing with him on the floor. She zoomed up to Gopher and immediately hugged him and gave him kisses. She examined his ears, his face and the rest of this body while leaning against him as if he was a special living cushion just for her.  Mom, Dad and I couldn’t believe what we saw, and spent the time talking about the sudden change and laughing with Dualla as she played with Gopher on the floor. I guess Gopher and I have found a place we truly belong, now that Dualla has fully accepted us.

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