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When Harry met Mel: Harry’s Story

Harry, who has profound developmental delays, and The Infants’ Home’s educator Mel first met when she became his focus teacher in Gorton House. Initially Mel was apprehensive; she had not cared for a child with special needs before, and Harry seemed so fragile. She quickly came to realise that Harry was just like any other child coming into the centre – she just needed to get to know him and understand his strengths, needs and interests so that she could help him to develop and learn.

 

                                        

 

Mel worked closely with Harry over two years before he started at Primary School, and she is proud to share his achievements during this time.

When they first met Harry was shy and withdrawn, but he eventually became quite the social butterfly, engaging actively in play with the other children – including the occasional play wrestle with his good friend Christian!

Being a part of everyday experiences

At first Harry could only use his standing frame for five minutes at a time and it was unclear to Mel how much he was processing cognitively. Today Harry is very mobile, using his a walker to get from A to B most effectively, and in his last year at The Infants’ Home he was a keen participant in weekly AFL coaching clinics. Being able to move about independently using the walker really increased Harry’s self-confidence and allowed him to be very involved in the everyday activities in the centre.

Mel describes how Harry could touch the features on her face as she named them, and the importance of physical contact for Harry as this is how he relates best to his world. Lots of cuddles from educators and friends were definitely the order of everyday for Harry at The Infants' Home.

Inspiring others

Harry and his parents, Emma and Andy, inspired all of us at The Infants’ Home, but perhaps no one more so than Mel. She has now completed the half of a two-year Master’s Degree in Special Education. She is keen to continue to advocate for children who have special needs, and to help others to “Look past a child’s additional needs and to really see the child within”.

While Mel was excited for Harry when he made the move to primary school, she found it very hard to say goodbye to him. Harry touched so many people’s hearts at The Infants’ Home, but Mel and the other staff at The Infants’ Home knew that Harry was ready for his next big adventure, and this have been delighted to hear how happy he is and how well he has settled not only into primary school, but also into the mainstream before and after school care program he attends with his big brother Ollie.

 

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