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People are naturally drawn to Josie.

Her infectious little laugh rings in yours ears and can evoke a smile on even the darkest of days. 

With an unsteady gait, she is not as fast as the other kids. Her climbing skills are only starting to develop, but she wants to be in the middle of the action on the playground. With older siblings to hold her hand and guide her, I don't have any reason to fear as I wach her ascend the staircase to the slide.

Missing chromosomes, low tone, dyspraxia, and cerebral palsy…those words do not mean anything to her, and they shouldn't. No diagnosis will ever define the phenomenal child that is Josie. Her "designer genes" just add a little extra pizazz and sparkle to her personality. 

Five years old is a great age to experience. Each day brings with it a little more independence. From recognizing letters to learning to read, it is a wonderous time. Josie cannot wait to grab her books and crayons. She loves to color and is learning to stay within the lines. I am also teaching her that sometimes a picture is even more beautiful if you ignore those lines, and let yourself shine through.

Josie absolutely loves going to school. Since the age of three, she attended preschool five days a week. Climbing on the schoolbus is old hat to her. It was a big day for us when she finally mastered the steps on her own this past spring. I still like to put a hand behind her, barely touching, but supportive, nonetheless.

It may take a little longer for Josie to process the question posed, but she always comes back with the correct answer. Never underestimate her. She will surprise you if you do.

I couldn't help but worry as I prepared to send her off to Kindergarten. Will the teachers be caring and supportive? Would the kids accept her? Will she have friends? I did not worry about my other children as much as I worried in the weeks leading up to Josie's first day of Kindergarten. Her services were set, her aide assigned, and the inclusion team seemed warm and inviting, yet I will still a little uncertain.

The amount of reports and files that preceeded Josie's arrival at the elementary school must be the size of a small encyclopedia. Enrolled in Early Intervention by six months old, her story is filled with highs and lows and many, many accomplishments. Even still, there is still so much more to uncover. 

We are two weeks into the school year and Josie glows when we talk about Kindergarten. She claps her hands and her entire body shakes with excitement.

Back to School night was yesterday. I marveled over the pictures hanging around the classroom and flipped through the pages of Josie's workbooks. She is working so hard.

Josie has a special chair to assist her when sitting on the rug for circle time. Her teacher expained to me that the other children hold the chair and help her to sit with them.

The kids want to be with Josie.

She is included. 

I can't wait to watch her shine this year.









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