Hi, I’m Silvia,
an early intervention specialist working with teachers and parents of children with special needs to create a community that embraces children with all abilities.
About forty years ago, I experienced the spark of inspiration that would turn into my life’s work. I met a girl, Monica, who would become one of my closest childhood friends—and she had Down Syndrome.
It was unusual for children with disabilities to attend mainstream schools at that time—but Monica did. And I was often by her side, helping her, admiring her, and generally cheering her on. While at the time it came naturally, it’s only now, as an adult, that I realize how much those experiences have shaped my life.
University offered me the opportunity to learn Psychology of Education and Social Studies. In 2002, I became an early intervention specialist at a child development clinic in Ireland. Clinics like mine are created to monitor a child’s development, helping them develop to their fullest potential with the help of a wide range of individuals including doctors, therapists, psychologists, and even their parents. Within the walls of this clinic, I dedicated much of my time to working alongside children with Down Syndrome.
Life threw me a curveball when my oldest son was born in 2009, and we discovered, at the age of two, that he had autism.
Having always been dedicated to my work, the passion I felt toward it grew tenfold once I experienced the impact of being a parent raising a child with a disability.
It was isolating.
Because being on the other end of the services gave me several unique insights I didn’t possess before.
First, the consequences parents face in navigating various services for their child. I cut back on my work hours because I didn’t have a choice—my son had numerous appointments and follow-ups we had to attend. Not to mention some of the waitlists we sat on for weeks or months at a time. Of course, this ultimately gave way to the opportunity for me to start my own business—which is what you’re seeing here on my website today.
Second, I noticed that my family was suddenly forced to live in a parallel world.
But as his mother, I didn’t want my son growing up this way. Instead, I wanted him to be met where he was—to be included.
Ultimately, it was the lessons offered to me through my child that sparked my desire to contribute this work to the world: better support for children and their families. My hope is that by sharing my research and knowledge about the inclusion of children in the classroom, then in the future children like my son can successfully attend their local schools and feel supported in our communities. Isn’t that what our children deserve?
“A community that embraces people with all abilities is
one that respects and celebrates how unique we all are.”
So I developed The CIRCLE Programme, an online course based on my years of work as an early intervention specialist. It aims to support teachers to make classrooms inclusive for children with special needs, and it includes everything teachers need to know, do, and understand in order to adapt activities so that all children can be active participants in the classroom. After it, teachers report feeling informed, confident, and well equipped to work with children with disabilities.
I also regularly run free webinars for teachers, families and other professionals working with children with additional needs. These webinars provide practical and up to date information on a wide range of topics so families and educators may continue supporting children as they develop to their full potential.
In addition, I offer Lámh courses. Lámh is a manual hand sign language system used by children with intellectual disabilities and communication difficulties in Ireland.
Through my work and experiences with my oldest son (I now have two boys!), I’ve met hundreds—if not thousands—of people passionate about supporting those with disabilities. I’ve also had the privilege of speaking at premier events like the National Progressive Disabilities Conference, and the World Down Syndrome Congress.
In addition to my extensive work in the field of inclusion for children with disabilities, I’m passionate about teaching children to read—especially those facing disabilities. That’s because as of today, everything in their world is much more limited. They’re not granted the same experiences as other children, and as a result, their development depends more heavily on additional opportunities. Books have been the key to helping my son—and so many other children I’ve worked with—come to understand the world around him and how it operates.
I believe that by supporting the rights of people with disabilities, we create a better society for all. A community that embraces people with all abilities is one that respects and celebrates how unique we all are. While there is still a lot more work to be done, it’s important to acknowledge all of the fantastic work done so far.
I’m fully committed to my mission of making our communities better—and perhaps more understanding—toward the kids you love.
I hope you’ll join me!