If you’d ever told her she’d be working in a center for children with disabilities, Alicia Delalande probably wouldn’t have believed you. Her fear of not knowing how to handle situations that she hadn’t learned about in her classes, which were almost exclusively dedicated to working with able-bodied people, almost made her miss out on a fulfilling career, but luckily fate decided otherwise. Toombow Kids met this passionate worker and tells you her story, and how she found her calling!
Almost 25 years old on November 2, 2023, Alicia is a happy young woman. After passing her baccalaureate and a competitive examination at the Higher Institute of Psychomotor Rehabilitation, she officially became a psychomotrician. It was by chance that she applied to the CESAP (Committee for the Study, Education and Care of People with Multiple Disabilities ). Its mission is to support children in their overall development, taking into account their bodies, emotions, environment and specific needs, to help them achieve their full potential by working with them on the sensory and motor aspects. In this center, adolescents are affected by various types of severe disabilities that require specific support. As the person in charge of 24 of them, Alicia, like an investigator, must find the best care for each of them. She tells us her secret to accomplish this.
“The most important thing is to take the time to get to know the child. It took me a long time to start accompanying them, because I had to find the right ritual for each child. If a child really likes playing and being on the floor, then that’s where I have to start suggesting exercises. You have to start with what they like and not force them to do things they don’t like, because that won’t work. You have to use their desires and interests to help them. For example, I have a child who loves to tear things up. So I often give him sensory plates to work on his sitting/standing/hands-and-knees transfers. We also share a lot with our colleagues.”
Working on interactions therefore seems essential. Another interesting type of exercise, according to the psychomotor therapist, involves positive incentives. For example, to work on motor skills, young people can be encouraged to take a photo of their friends at the center and give it to them. And even if these techniques don’t work, Alicia is keen to reassure other aspiring practitioners, reminding them that there are an infinite number of things to try, and that it also depends on the evolution of the disability. Since she started working, she has many good memories, but still has some favorite ones.
“I have a lot of them, but it’s often similar: when I see children happy or amazed. One example that comes to mind is a boy I’ve nicknamed ‘Grumpy’ in my head, because it’s true that he often sulks. Well, when we go on an outing together, like to the zoo, and I see him smiling and laughing, that’s happiness! I love to see them “enjoying life”! And also, in general, when they make progress, for example when one of them manages to hold his torso upright when he never could before, these are magical moments!”
She adds with a smile that as a psychomotor therapist, she is “paid to play” and advises all children who wish to pursue this career that the most important thing is to love what you do. Now in her second year working with the children at CESAP, Alicia is more ready and determined than ever to give them the sunshine and support they need to stand on their own two feet.