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The world is Rose’s oyster. Literally. It’s easy for her parents Alan and Karen to rattle off their curious four-year-old’s interests, but they always circle back to any outdoor activities. She loves exploring everything about nature and being outside, from hiking to visiting the botanical gardens to making animal friends.

“It was the ugliest creature in the world…but she was having a whole conversation with it,” Alan said about the turkey vulture they saw at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. Always curious Rose proudly marched up to the bird and launched into her usual rapidfire interrogation for meeting people. What’s your name? What are you doing? Where do you live?
It’s a series of questions that almost everyone at the Elaine Clark Center can hear in her voice. In just under a year since she started at ECC in April 2019, Rose has made quite the impression on every teacher and staff member.

For Rose and her family, the switch to the Elaine Clark Center was about her potential. Rose was born a micropreemie at just 25 weeks old, so she faced a lot of health issues from the very beginning of her life. Over time, she weened off oxygen, her g-tube, lots of medicines, and more, but when it was time for her to start pre-school her parents knew some of her skills still had room to grow to meet typical standards.

Still, Alan and Karen looked forward to a lot of big steps – potty training and learning how to socialize with other kids to name a few. But with larger class sizes at another center, they could see how it was difficult for teachers to meet Rose’s specific, individual needs with her developmental delays.

 “The school she was at, she was just falling farther and farther behind…it just wasn’t a good fit,” they said. They knew she had more potential to unlock but needed the right support, so they moved her to the Elaine Clark Center, which has smaller teacher-to-student ratios and is more equipped to work with children with special needs.

When we ask Karen and Alan if they have any favorites out of Rose’s milestones, they say they most appreciate the simple things, even as small as learning to color inside the lines. However, one recent milestone comes to mind for Karen. She came to pick up Rose from a typical day at ECC and found her rolling around the playground on a tricycle. 

The teachers didn’t think much of it because Rose has always loved the tricycle, even before she could properly pedal. But the tricycle has been a labor of love for Rose and her parents for a while now. She’s small for her age, so it’s hard to reach the pedals, and for years Karen and Alan have heard that Rose, as a preemie, has weak legs and tight ankles. Clearly, with the right support, those haven’t been able to stop her.

Alan and Karen know Rose come a long way, and seeing her make greater strides in her development excites them for the next steps. Further development like improved focus and thinking seem possible now that she has the support of the Elaine Clark Center. All the simple things feed into the bigger picture, and Rose’s parents can look forward to the future, even as far as starting kindergarten in a couple years.

“Now [we’re] really seeing what she can do and how much school, therapies, and teachers have really made an impact with her. You can see her full potential.”

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