While her classmates would leave their parents at the door to take their seats, Krystel is carried by her mother, Marie, who tirelessly walked a kilometer to take her to school. Walking beside them is Krystel’s twin sibling Kyle, who also attends the same day care center.
Since birth, Krystel could barely move and is unable to speak, until Save the Children assessed her in April 2015. Through the Project KASALI (Education for All Children), Krystel was referred to a developmental pediatrician who initially diagnosed her with ‘Global Developmental Delay’. This is a delay in either motor, cognitive, and social skills, and speech and language skills of a child.
In Krystel’s case, while she has had difficulty in speaking, her weak lower back and limbs also limited her movement—the reason why Marie is left with no choice but to carry her to school every day.
Before classes opened in June 2015, a medical assessment showed that Krystel scored below average on physical, cognitive, social, and emotional domains of development.
Thankfully, Krystel’s twin, Kyle, who has had normal physical growth and development, is able to assist her sister in doing class activities such as coloring, dancing and playing.
Through Parent Education Sessions organized by Save the Children’s KASALI project, Marie, the twin’s mother, now understands that she needs to support the education of her children in order to develop their full potential. Here, Save the Children aims to improve parent’s child rearing skills and knowledge.
By providing meaningful trainings and seminars for parents, teachers and barangay councils, KASALI project is working towards the protection and inclusion of children with disability in the early childhood education to basic education in the cities of Taguig and Paranaque, and in the municipality of Pateros.
Marie learned about children’s rights, positive discipline and home care support for her children. She was taught to practice simple massage therapy and provide constant communication and language stimulation to support Krystel’s development.
Since then, Marie and her husband have been working together to constantly talk to Krystel to improve her speech and to ensure that she receives regular back and limbs massage.
“I also learned that I should encourage learning even at home so we put up educational posters on our walls which I use to teach them concepts like shapes and colors,” Marie said.
Marie and her husband are optimistic that Krystel will be able to better develop her skills.
Thanks to her supportive family and Day Care teacher, Krystel has greatly improved since the first day of school. Now, she actively participates in class, and even mutters sounds and syllables. She too can stand on her own and make small steps.
“Krystel is very happy in class. We had a class picture just recently and she was driving away her mother because she wanted to be in the photo with just her classmates,” says her teacher Adoracion, who has been in service for 24 years.
Last month, Krystel has started her physical therapy sessions at MedMom, a partner child development clinic of the project.
“I was nervous at first because it was the first time for Krystel to be checked by a doctor. But I am happy that after her assessment and therapy, she is now able to actively participate in class and play with her classmates,” Marie said.
Her teacher also added: “During circle time, she raises her hands and recites in class enthusiastically. She loves flipping through books even if she has difficulty reading. There is also a big improvement in her movement.”
Next month, Krystel will attend her first recognition rites. She might have difficulty in walking up the stage to receive her certificate but hopefully soon, she will be able to walk towards a brighter future.