A New Perspective

tags: PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs
Sam Noble

By Sam Noble

As a young child, I had severe asthma and life-threatening allergies. I couldn’t attend a typical day care program. While my parents were at work, I needed to be near trained medical professionals in case I had a bad allergic or asthmatic attack.

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That’s how I ended up at PACT: Helping Children with Special Needs for the first time. PACT, which is affiliated with Kennedy Krieger Institute, is central Maryland’s only medical child care center, and it was my home-away-from-home for about three years, before I started school.

This past year, my senior year of high school, I went back to PACT—this time, for an internship. I interned for a couple of hours every weekday. For the most part, I was like a teacher’s aide. When I started, I knew next to nothing about working with children with disabilities, but I was keen to learn. After all, PACT had helped me survive early childhood, so I figured the chances were good it might benefit me in early adulthood, too.

I loved seeing Sam’s confidence in himself grow over the course of the internship.” – Laura Denz, PACT

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Early on in the internship, I was assigned to work with Jacob, a little boy with autism. He had trouble communicating with others. I watched PACT staff members closely, to see how they interacted with children with autism. I came up with a plan.

I began by just saying Jacob’s name. After a while, Jacob started saying “Mr. Sam” back to me. Then I started asking him to do small tasks, making it sound like he’d be doing me a favor. Gradually, Jacob began to work with me. It was slow going, but each little task and repeated name brought us closer together.

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Working one-on-one with Jacob, who doesn’t see the world from the same perspective I do, was eye-opening. My communication skills improved so much. I think the internship helped me more than I helped the kids. I learned to see the world as I needed to see it in order to truly communicate with others.

I just entered college, and I plan to major in criminal justice, and possibly also in English. Even if I don’t go on in a therapy field, the communication skills I learned interning at PACT will help me tremendously throughout my life—I am confident of that.

Visit the PACT website to learn more about how PACT helps young children with complex medical conditions.