Anh* loves the color pink. She looks for it everywhere. In pictures. On toys. In the basket of colorful bouncy balls the children play with at her care center in northern Vietnam. So when her caregiver asks her to select a pair of shoes from the cupboard, her eyes naturally fall on the hot pink heels peeking out of the pile. Anh slips her feet into the pink sandals and practices walking along the balcony and up and down the stairs — her heels click-clacking on the hard ceramic tile.
For Anh, walking in heels is more than playing dress-up. For Anh, learning to put on shoes, walk down stairs, take off shoes and put them back in the cupboard is part of the occupational therapy she receives every Monday-Friday. With each step, she is learning a new skill.
A 6-year-old girl with short silky black hair and milky skin, Anh is the only child with special needs at her care center. Found abandoned at about 3 years old in the streets of Hanoi, she was diagnosed with autism shortly after coming into care. Anh cannot speak, but she engages the world in other ways. She does not hesitate to jump in your arms or sit in your lap, and easily takes the hand of her therapist or responds in kind to a “high five” — raising her arms and gently mirroring the gesture.
Before starting therapy, Anh seemed more adrift in her own world. She did not respond to directions and had no basic self-care skills. Now, Anh is learning to take care of herself and to interact with other children and adults.
Through the Molly Holt Fund for Children with Special Needs, you can help children like Anh receive the vital care they need. You can help them receive therapy or treatment early on, when they are most supple to grow and change and their development is most critical. By learning to follow directions, to interact with others — to hold hands and high-five — children like Anh overcome initial challenges and set on a track to reach their full potential. Your support goes above and beyond meeting their basic needs. You help children with special needs become their best selves. And ultimately, you give them the skills to be part of a family.
A couple years ago, another child with autism at this same care center made such great progress through occupational therapy that he has since joined an adoptive family. Anh is now also on track for adoption, and we are hopeful that she will soon go home to a loving family who can continue providing the specialized care she needs.
* name changed