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The Sky’s the Limit for Zac

Like many boys his age, two-and-half-year-old Zachary (Zac) Guerriero loves to play with cars and tools.  It’s something that comes naturally in a family where both his father and grandfather are mechanics.

Zachary is Linda and Pellegrino’s second child. He was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after his birth. With neither a family history of Down Syndrome, nor any health issues during the pregnancy, Linda and Pellegrino were unprepared for a child with special needs. Shocked and frightened, they worried whether their son would be able to walk, talk and go to school.

When Zac was three months old, the Guerrieros were referred to the Infant-Parent Program at Chedoke Hospital for a program that provides education and support to families with children with special needs.  A therapist came to their home and explained more about Down syndrome, answering their questions and offering much needed reassurance.

Two months later, the family was introduced to therapist, Barbara Campbell. For the next two years, Barbara came to their home on a regular basis to teach them how to help Zac reach his developmental milestones, such sitting, crawling and walking. She even involved Zac’s big sister Natasha, showing her how to encourage Zac to reach for his toys.

“Without the Infant-Parent Program, we would have been blind,” says Linda. “When you have a child with Downs, you don’t know what to do.  Our therapist Barbara taught us how to engage Zac so that he could reach those early milestones.”

Equally important was the emotional support and encouragement that Barbara provided to Zac’s parents. She offered a sounding board when they felt frustrated or worried, and reassured them that they were doing a good job.

Over the past few months, Barbara worked with Zac and his family to prepare for preschool. They worked on activities, like playing with playdough and sticker books, to help develop fine and gross motor skills. 

“Barbara is a very patient, very calm, very sweet, loving woman,” says Pellegrino.”She gets right down on the ground with Zac, at his level. Even though you think she’s just playing with him, she’s getting Zac to do what needs to be done.”

Zac now attends preschool two days a week.  He enjoys playing with the other children in his class and his teacher has commented positively on his listening skills and how well he follows instructions. Linda and Pellegrino are grateful for the support they received through the Infant-Parent Program and feel confident and hopeful that their son will reach his full potential.

“Our dream for Zac is to have a happy, healthy life and that he finds a job or a career that he loves,” says Linda. “We dream that he can be self-sufficient and have a family one day.”




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