Connie Slomski’s son Oliver is a much-loved, happy 10-year-old boy. He lives with some challenges: he was born with Down Syndrome and was diagnosed with Autism at age 5 and ADHD at age 8. He is non-verbal. Oliver is the youngest of five children and Connie says that his developmental and physical challenges have given her a new perspective.
“Finding out Oliver’s diagnoses seemed overwhelming at the time; however he has brought so much joy to our lives because of it,” she says.
Connie describes Oliver as a “busy boy”, who enjoys being active. He is also well-mannered and polite. He cleans up after himself, putting his toys away after play. He is innovative and enjoys new activities or finding new ways to play with old toys. But living with the challenges that he has also means that Oliver needs constant care, which can be a strain on his parents. So when Connie had a chance to tour Matthew’s House, she was excited.
Matthew’s House is named for Matthew, the son of Doug and Andrea Froese. Matthew lived with multiple challenges and was dependent upon others for every aspect of his care. The Froese’s recognized the need for parents to have rest and envisioned a home away from home where parents could bring their son or daughter, knowing they’d be well cared-for. Matthew’s House opened its doors in November 2013, providing care for families from across the province.
Connie had heard Matthew’s story but Oliver’s challenges are quite different from those with which Matthew lived. She wasn’t sure if Matthew’s House was an option for their family so she contacted Wendy Toohey, the manager at Matthew’s House and expressed an interest for Oliver.
“I felt it could be a great fit: the rooms, the staff and their knowledge, the care, kindness and professionalism we had seen was outstanding.” Connie Slomski
Wendy indicated that Oliver would be very welcome. She says that parents sometimes wonder if their child is able to come to Matthew’s House.
“We definitely care for children who live with high, physical needs but we also welcome children who live with behavioural challenges and who have multiple diagnoses,” she explains.
Oliver’s first visit was for a weekend stay and he had a terrific time. Now he visits every 2-3 months. He enjoys the playground, blowing bubbles and playing tag with the staff. If the weather doesn’t allow for outdoor activities, he’s happy to do puzzles, colour or dance with Wii dance.
“He loves going there and the staff make it so easy for us to make these stays possible,” Connie says.
Parents who are wondering if their child is eligible for respite at Matthew’s House should browse the For Parents section of this website.
“Parents will find all the eligibility criteria, they can watch our video and see testimonials from other parents,” Wendy says, adding that if parents still have questions, they can always contact her at Matthew’s House for more information.
Having the opportunity to leave Oliver in a home where he will be safe and lovingly cared for means that Connie and her family have a chance to do other things together without having to worry about him.
“We are lucky to have Matthew’s House and all that it offers families and children,” Connie says.”