Christina’s stories

I have been working at the special needs school at Aleh Negev since October 2018. My background is in children’s speech and language therapy. My experience has helped me very much while working at Aleh. God has given me a special love for children and enjoyment in connecting with them, and this has been reciprocated by each of these children. I love these children so much… I am always happy to talk about them! I have also learnt a lot from the therapists and teaching staff at the special school, how to teach children with complex needs and help them make steps of progress, no matter how small.

  • Shachaf: Shachaf attended the special needs school at Aleh Negev from September 2018 to August 2019. Shortly before her start date, a recent professional report had documented very limited communication skills. She also had a high level of sensory difficulties, requiring an adult to roll her in a sheet, push her in a swing or spin her in a vestibular plate to calm her down. I worked with the speech and language therapist and teaching staff, to use a picture exchange system. This helped her to ask for something that could calm her down (e.g. the swing), or to request food or bubbles. Later, she was able to do this without help, and showed pleasure when she received it. Shachaf became visibly calmer and her needs became easier to manage. Her attention also developed and by the end, she could sit for at least five minutes on the floor and playing. Her family asked to continue using picture exchange at home.
  • Sabrina: I have known Sabrina for over a year. At first, I needed to get used to how to respond to her when she got frustrated. The first day I went out walking with her, she bit my finger. Later on, I started to pray for her when she became very frustrated. Since that time, she has warmed very much to me and is also respecting me more when I give her a boundary. From my knowledge of children with similar needs, they benefit very much from simple positive boundaries and it has been special to see Sabrina mature. Since she is communicating much more with the help of all the staff (using more gestures, signs and words), her levels of frustration have reduced. She has developed skills to ask for things using pictures and photos on the ipad and navigating around that communication aid.
  • Areej: Areej is a very sweet little Arab girl with Downs Syndrome. I have also known her from the start of my volunteering time at Aleh. Until September 2019, my impression of her was that she mainly wanted to play, throw toys, dance and enjoy food! Since September this year, she is copying a lot more gestures, and can ask for ‘more’ without help. I made a picture exchange board for Areej recently, and she has started to request things with the help of the school staff.

It was so much fun to unlock some of her potential and to see her excitement!

  • Betty: Betty is a lovely Ethiopian girl, who I worked with until September 2019. If left on her own, she would probably spin objects and roll balls all day! It was interesting, trying to intervene in her play routines, but over time she started to enjoy functional turn-taking games like putting bricks on a tower. She also developed skills in requesting a range of objects using picture exchange, without help. It was so much fun to unlock some of her potential and to see her excitement!

It was very special to connect with him and find out what he likes to do.

  • Rami: I have known Rami since the beginning of September this year. It was the first time that he was away from home without his parents during the day, and it was difficult for him to adjust to the routine. It was very special to connect with him and find out what he likes to do. When he is tired, he enjoys to sit on my lap and sleep!

This was the first time I saw Noi request anything.

  • Noi: I have known Noi since I started volunteering at Aleh. For at least half a year, I did not see her respond to adult interaction. She did not seem to understand any simple turntaking games and did not focus on one thing for more than a few seconds. I did not want to give up! The teacher gave me an idea, to take a photo using the iPad of Noi on the playground carousel and then encourage Noi to touch it, when she wanted me to spin the carousel. This was the first time I saw Noi request anything. Since July/August 2019, Noi has been learning to request her favourite yoghurt using the iPad, and her focus is improving. It was wonderful to know that when a child starts to do something, they will be able to do a lot more.
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