I’m Thankful My Daughter Was Able to Participate in the School Play

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by Jackie Babiarz |

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When your child is nonverbal and unable to use her body purposefully, it’s intriguing to open an email from her teacher that reads, “Your child has a chance to be in the school’s fall play.”

Cammy is a seventh grader who loves socializing with her peers, is enthralled with musicals, and has Rett syndrome. Cammy enjoys doing everything her younger sister, Ryan, enjoys — she just needs an extra set of arms and legs, and a voice to help her participate. But there is one thing she does not need any assistance with: showing pure joy. Her eyes sparkle, her smile spreads from ear to ear, and her eyebrows raise as she giggles with delight.

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Her school was putting on the production “Dorothy Meets Alice or The Wizard of Wonderland,” and the director had found ways for all students to participate. After receiving the email, I asked Cammy if she wanted to be part of the play. Her eyes met mine. She grinned big to indicate “yes!” This would be her first after-school activity that didn’t require my presence. Her school aide would stay with her to assist. Cammy was slated to be a tornado, along with two of her friends, who are also nonverbal and in wheelchairs.

The director orchestrated it all masterfully for the students with special needs. The tornadoes’ rehearsals were shorter. During the play, they could sit with their parents after their parts to be fed, changed, or take medications, if needed. Parents of neurotypical children may not have to think about these things.

To prepare Cammy for her two shows, Ryan gave her a pep talk and put foundation powder and blush on her face. Cammy loved this bonding time with her sister. She was incredibly excited for her debut as a tornado, especially since her grandparents, four aunts, five cousins, parents, sister, and friends would be in the audience.

During the show, Cammy was dressed in all gray with white tulle wrapped around her body. A peer wheeled her around to whirl like a twister. Cammy was a fierce tornado, not even cracking a smile when she saw her family in the audience.

school play | Rett Syndrome News | After the school play, Cammy smiles between her grandmother and grandfather. She is wearing gray and white tulle for her role as a tornado, and is sitting in a pink wheelchair.

After the show, Cammy was greeted by her proud grandparents, Sandy and Bill Babiarz. (Photo by Jacqueline Babiarz)

After the performance, when she was greeted by her family members, Cammy had the biggest smile on her face. Her aunts and I all had happy tears in our eyes. We were full of pride that our special girl put herself out there and did yet another amazing thing.

After each show, Cammy’s adrenaline was pumping. We could not wipe that smirk off her face, nor did we want to. When we asked her if she wanted to do another play, her eyes made their way around to connect with each of ours, and she giggled with her giant smile.

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Note: Rett Syndrome News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Rett Syndrome News, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Rett syndrome.

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