Tiana enjoys her first sleepover
A grin from ear to ear is what Coffs Harbour parents, Lyn and Glen Legge, noticed when daughter Tiana came home from her very first Girl Guide sleepover.
The 10-year-old had never experienced any independent social activities without her parents but now under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), they said it's no longer the case, it's all changed and "it's just so good and refreshing".
"The sleepover is an exciting milestone for Tiana," Lyn said. "She's never had a sleepover or spent a night away from us but it all changed when a goal was set in her NDIS plan to join Girl Guides. It meant we could engaged Michelle, a lovely support worker, who we all knew, to accompany Tiana every week to Girl Guides and support her to enjoy her very first Girl Guide sleepover."
Lyn said Tiana, who is non-verbal with Down syndrome, left home with a big smile on her face, and more importantly returned home with the same big smile.
"I was the one worrying," she said with a laugh. "How will she be? Will she sleep? Then Michelle told me half way through the night she got up to check on Tiana and there she was, snuggled in bed with the girl next to her. It was lovely. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing."
When Tiana got home, Lyn said all she could talk about was her new friend Poppy, the girl she had snuggled with.
"It was Poppy this, Poppy that, and now they have this tight little friendship, which is just lovely. We couldn't have hoped for a better outcome," she said.
"I really can't thank NDIS enough for supporting Tiana to participate in everyday activities other children her age can take for granted.
"The whole Girl Guide experience is growing her friendship base, building her independence and life skills.
"Michelle has taught the other Girl Guides to sign so they can communicate with Tiana. She also made up a book with obvious signs the girls can use. She has been just wonderful.
"Now I get girls coming up to me, enthusiastically, sharing new signs Michelle has taught them."
Lyn said Tiana also has a new communication app called Language Acquisition through Motor Planning, commonly referred to as LAMP, on her iPad.
"Tiana's next goal is to master it on her communication device," she said.
"We'd love Tiana to become competent using it. It will help her effectively communicate in all environments, increasing her socialisation and independence.
"At Girl Guides, the children are all curious to see how Tiana uses her communication device and the enthusiasm and inclusion just warms my heart," Lyn said.
For more information, visit the Girl Guide Australia website (external).