It’s been a long summer. The kids have found things to keep them busy, but playdates for Ella have been few and far between. That is, until new neighbors moved in just down the block.
Our new neighbors are from New York, and they have three children, including an 8-year-old for Henry and a 6-year-old for Ella. The youngest is 2. (Ava missed out on this one, but she has established friends already.)
So, every day, Ella gets to have a playmate to explore her world. We have taught her friend’s parents how to lift and toilet Ella while she’s over at their house. We use her manual wheelchair, so she has easy access in their house. Sometimes they play at the neighbor’s house, and sometimes they come over to our house.
Despite her SMA, Ella and her new friend have found ways to play together. They set up doll “nurseries” on Ella’s bedroom floor using baby dolls and stuffed animals. They make slime using glue and liquid starch. They enjoy eating snacks and lunches together. They talk and laugh as they get to know one another.
SMA affects the neuromuscular system, but cognitive ability is untouched. Ella has the same need for friends and socialization as any other child does. She thrives on playing with her new friend. It’s important for parents of kids with SMA to treat every aspect of their child, including their social development. Yes, the wheelchair can pose some tricky logistics, but there’s always a solution to be found.
As summer winds down and school is peeking its head around the corner, the playdates continue. Soon, Ella will be in her new third-grade class making new friends, but I’m sure she and her new friend from New York will continue the friendship they’ve fostered so far.
Note: SMA News Today 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 SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.