A quiet spirit of independence and confidence: Uyanda’s story

Siyakwazi began to work with Uyanda in 2014 when she was 3 years old. “We were busy with home visits in the field and noticed that she was playing in her garden near the side of the road.” At that time, she was staying at home with her mother. Uyanda had a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but the family were not accessing support with therapy and Uyanda was not attending any local ECD centre. Through support from Siyakwazi, the family implemented a home programme for her and she was enrolled at the local ECD centre. “She started to learn new things, she was able to learn more words from her peers and she learnt how to go to the toilet by herself.” One of the biggest improvements was in Uyanda’s language and communication which supported her participation at home, in the ECD centre and later at school. “Uyanda enjoyed learning, she enjoyed morning routine, she enjoyed checking the weather outside in the morning. She made friends.”

In 2017, Uyanda went to mainstream school where she joined Grade R and later Grade 1. Unfortunately, her delayed cognitive development meant that she was unable to continue past Grade 1. In 2019, she was repeating Grade 1 for the second year and Uyanda mother started the process of applying for a local SEN school in Port Shepstone. The mom was nervous at first because it was a much longer distance to travel for Uyanda and the school was ‘unknown’ to the family. However it was clear that attending a SEN school was the only available option for Uyanda, who had become despondent about school and no longer enjoyed attending because she could sense that her peers were moving on (graduating to the next Grade) whilst she remained left behind. In 2020, with the onset of the pandemic there were delays in applications and for the year Uyanda did not attend school.

Finally in 2021 after a lengthy application process Uyanda was admitted to the local SEN school. “The first day she had to go to school she was so excited, she had her uniform on before 5am that morning, reminding everyone in the household that she was going to school.”

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