Dear Teachers and staff at Primary School,
Hi there My name is Cooper and I am starting Prep this year.
I am very excited to be starting school.
I am really looking forward especially to German class and learning anything about Science. I love seeing how things work and why they work and who invented them. I have an amazing imagination and am full of so many creative ideas. I also love beign outdoors and learning about how a farm works.
When you first see me lots of people see my walker, or my wheelchair before they really see me. I know it stands out and is a bit different to what you may be used to. I am so use to it , it is part of me, always has been and always will be, to me it is normal. I need you to see past my equipment that helps my body and look into my bright, happy eyes and see the real me. It might take a little bit of time to see past my label as such but when you do things only change for the better.
I have had Cerebral Palsy ( Athetoid Quadriplegia) since I was born. When I was being born the cord wrapped so tightly around my neck, arms and body that I lost oxygen to my brain and it got really hurt and damaged. The part that controls all the movement in my body was damaged so all the messages to my muscles are so mixed up. My tone is all over the place going from high to low and my movements can be jerky, especially when I am excited.
My speech is the most noticeable of being different. The mouth and tongue and voice are all controlled by muscles and co-ordination which makes it so very hard for me to get clear concise sounds.
In my mind my voice and words are clear they just don't come out that way.
Please listen to my words carefully. Please wait for me to answer your questions in my own time. Even if you feel a little uncomfortable with some silence please do not answer for me or pretend you know what I said if you do not. I know my voice is different and I will try many different ways to get you to undestand what I have said. I do use many gestures and signs as well as words to get my message across.
I am also starting to use electronic communication devices that we can all learn together. I have many many things to say, my thoughts and ideas are very important I just need patience and time to be heard and understood. Most of all please do not talk to me like I am a baby, it really annoys me and I do not respond well to this and will most often ignore that person that does this. I am 6 years old.
In the classroom I love structure and order. I like knowing what to expect and what comes next. I really dislike loud girly squealing and become very distressed. My body has not learnt to integrate the startle reflex as yet so I do jump at any sudden sounds. If I know it's coming then I deal with it much better.
Often I might look at though I am a little bit dreamy but I am taking everything in. I can come home and relay the whole day easily to my family, it might just take me a while to participate in group discussions at school and I work much better in smaller groups.
I love eating! I love any types of food and I love trying foods from new cultures. Eating and drinking are a little harder for me as it involves so many muscles so I tend to dribble alot and need reminding to chew my food in order not to gag. I will mainly have small finger food so I can eat as independently as possible.
My muscles are moving all the time and the effort it takes my body to do controlled movememts is huge, so I tire very easily. I sometimes just need to have a little rest then get back into it. When I am tired my speech is very hard to understand so I use many gestures and I also get very emotional. I will be easing into the school day and starting with half days until my body gets used to it.
I am really happy to be starting school, I am so keen to learn and make many new friends. My Mum will no doubt get a little emotional in the first day as this is a big step for her but I have told her not to cry too much and that I will be fine!
I am looking forward to meeting you all in a few weeks.