Patrick O’Connell turned six in June, so along with three other classmates he was ready to enter first grade in his rural community school in Australia last month. Diagnosed with a rare unnamed chromosomal disorder, Patrick’s start in life was difficult and he still battles through periods of sickness and seizures, but he continues to surprise his parents and neighbors with steady progress. In his kindergarten class he participated as much as his short attention span would allow with alphabet activities and art and took every other chance to socialize and chat. He also particularly loves the simple stories, rhymes and games. Best of all, he loves his Rifton adaptive trike which takes him all over the neighborhood.
Patrick’s mother writes:
Patrick’s school has a tradition (borrowed from Germany) where the incoming first grade students write their names on a whiteboard before friends and family to “prove” they are ready for school – and then receive a huge, decorated paper cone full of goodies. Although Patrick cannot write, he has an amazing memory and had memorized all the letters of the alphabet and the ones that made up his name. So we were curious how Patrick’s teachers would steer him around this rite of passage. Imagine our thrill, then, to see him eagerly and carefully place P-A-T-R-I-C-K in magnetic letters on the whiteboard to resounding applause. But he wasn’t done yet. He insisted on pulling out the initial O for his last name as well! Then off he went to school with his teachers and classmates.
And now since school has started he comes home every day exceedingly happy, hungry and tired from all the stimulation and learning opportunities. He has certainly surprised us as well as many professionals who thought he would never be able to walk or talk.
From Rifton, we say: “Have a wonderful school year, Patrick. Keep on surprising your parents!”
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