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A journey begins: Emmarisa’s story

Emmarisa was born prematurely, leaving her with significant health issues which continue to challenge her development. When Sunisa sees how happy and engaged Emmarisa has become, she feels almost as though she has a “new baby girl”.
 

                                              

                                Emmarisa with her focus educator Nicole

Emmarisa’s unique name is a combination of the traditional English and Thai names ‘Emma’ and ‘Risa’, chosen by her Thai and Australian parents.

Coming to The Infants’ Home

Emmarisa’s parents work full time, and with no extended family support they really needed help to care for Emmarisa’s particular needs, and to give her opportunities to grow and develop alongside other children. When the Paediatric Consultant at Westmead Children’s Hospital recommended she contact The Infants’ Home, Emmrisa’s mum Sunisa did not hesitate to telephone our Health and Early Childhood Consultant Meryl Burn.

A place was found for Emmarisa immediately in Rigby House’s infants program. Meryl set the wheels in motion to coordinate a comprehensive intake and orientation process so that Emmarisa’s parents and The Infants’ Home’s team could work together to meet Emmarisa’s needs, including learning to manage her requirements for being tube fed, and helping her settle into the centre. Meryl also coordinated other specialists involved in supporting Emmarisa.

In good hands

Adjusting to a new routine and place was challenging. Even though Sunisa knew Emmarisa was “in good hands” at The Infants’ Home, it was a big change for them both. Sunisa found it very hard to be away from her beautiful baby girl. But with the help of strong support and communication from The Infants’ Home’s interdisciplinary team, within a month both Emmarisa and Sunisa had settled happily into the centre and into a new routine.

Sunisa says that before she started in Rigby House, “Emmarisa was slow in her social interactions physically and verbally. At home she only used vague eye contact when spoken to, and she did not vocalise. But now, after a few short months at Rigby House, Emmarisa is much more socially expressive - she smiles, reaches out for things and engages happily with the other children and her educators”.

The journey begins

Emmarisa’s focus educator Nicole ensures that she is always included as part of the group, and that she has plenty of opportunities to interact with the other children and educators in the centre.

“Best of all, she has recently given me a really nice return cuddle!” says Sunisa. Emmarisa’s journey is off to a great beginning.

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