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Matthew the Paralympian

Twelve-year-old Matthew has been a Grandview kid since he was six months old. Since then, Matthew has worked with his Grandview therapists to achieve each goal and milestone he has set his mind to.

From his family being told by doctors at birth he would likely never walk, to walking, riding a bike and walking upstairs independently, Matthew has come an incredibly long way.

Now, Matthew believes he will be a Paralympic sledge hockey player. Grandview believes he will be, too.

Matthew is a mono-mono identical twin, which means he shared an amniotic sac and placenta with his brother, Eric. Matthew was born prematurely at 27 weeks, with a complicated birth. He underwent several operations during his first few years, including two brain surgeries. He has a VP shunt and CP left hemiplegia; he also wears bilateral hearing aids.

Matthew has attended Grandview Children’s Centre for Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language Development, Physiotherapy, Therapeutic Recreation and Summer Camp Programs.

“We did not get a very good diagnosis for Matthew but with hope, faith, lots of therapy appointments and the proper support, Matthew has flourished into a happy twelve year old boy,” says Matthew’s mom, Elise. “We still have days that are hard and we have to figure out things as we go but if I have learned anything from Matthew it is that there is always a way to do something, it might be different but there is more than one way!”

During his early years at Grandview Children’s Centre, Matthew’s twin brother Eric would join in on his therapy sessions, too!

 

“Until they were in kindergarten, Eric would come to therapy. That was another thing Grandview was really great with, because they would get Eric to do things and it would encourage Matthew to do things,” says Elise. “Twins don’t like to be away from each other, especially when they’re little. This made it much more natural for Matthew.”

Eric, Matthew’s brother, remembers the fun he shared joining in on therapy activities with Matthew.

“I remember walking up and down the stairs with Matthew and we would play games and we would walk on lines on the floor,” shares Eric. “We had fun.”

Matthew’s sister, Emilie, says she remembers seeing Matthew grow overtime because of Grandview.

“I remember him coming home and doing all his exercises and then it proved to show in everyday tasks that he would do,” says Emilie.

Thanks to the programs here at Grandview, Matthew learned to walk at age three and by age six he learned to move up and down stairs independently.  At age twelve he can now ride a bike with no modifications on his own, thanks to the training he received from Grandview on a modified bike since age 4.

“The tricky part with having twins is that we had one twin who had the disabilities and one that didn’t, so when they had to get bikes Matthew wanted the same bike as Eric, but he couldn’t. So as a parent I always struggled with that,” shares Elise. “Grandview suggested we go to a place in Pickering and they got the exact same bike but they modified Matthew’s…Grandview helped with how to ride the bike and now years later he can ride a bike independently.”

Riding his bike isn’t the only activity Matthew is involved with. He loves being active and has recently become involved with parasport programs at the Abilities Centre as well as playing summer baseball for his Whitby team. For the last five years, he has also been playing sledge hockey. This is where is dream job comes in, as a Paralympic sledge hockey athlete.

According to Elise, Grandview has made each and every step since his diagnosis more manageable and less overwhelming.

“They’ve really helped every step of the way with everything. First it was milestones to get him to sit, to crawl, to walk. They’ve always supported us along the way. It’s not so overwhelming, because you have this child that you don’t know what they’re going to be able to do and Grandview, in our experience, really could break it down into blocks of goals that you’re working on and get him to reach them,” says Elise.

Grandview has continued to work with Matthew in order to discover the best way for him to accomplish the things he wants to do.  Elise says his therapists, like Allison and Rosina, have always been there to create unique plans that work best for his ultimate goals.

The individualization, creative ideas and support systems really stand out for Matthew and his family when thinking about the best parts of Grandview.

Matthew says whenever he had to go to Grandview for a therapy appointment, he knew it would be a fun day.

With hard work, determination and help from Grandview Children’s Centre, Matthew has been able to live life to its full potential.

There’s no doubt that if he sets his mind to it, we’ll see Matthew representing team Canada as a Paralympian one day.

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