Super Dadvocate: Gabriel Federico Making a Difference!
This is a story of courage, commitment and passion to help raise awareness, ability and understanding. In honor of Father’s Day, we think he deserves some special attention!
Meet Super Dadvocate: Gabriel Federico
“Parenting a child with a disability does not mean being less of a father or a different father; one is the father of the child, not the disability. Challenges, fears and satisfactions are everyday concerns for all parents whether or not they have a special situation at home.”
Our first Super Dad is a Professional Music Therapist, the Director of CAMINO (Spanish acronym) – Argentinian Centre of Music Therapy and Investigation in Neurodevelopment and Obstetrics, a writer, husband and father of three. We’ll let him tell you about himself, his family and his vocation.
My name is Gabriel Federico; I have two sons and a daughter: Matías, 18; Nicolas, 14; and Micaela, 2. I’m married to Claudia and we live in Buenos Aires City, Argentina. Matías has Cerebral Palsy and also lives in the city, in his own adapted home with his mother. We love to travel and spend time together doing many things such as: visiting our family or different parts of the city by car, reading books, watching TV series or movies, playing games on the play station and singing along to musical instruments. I love any form of music and love to have barbeques (asado in Argentina) with family and friends. Matías was diagnosed when he was three months old. He’s very intelligent and his difficulties are in coordinating his movements and speaking, but he uses devices to aide him with what he can’t do by himself.
When Matias was two years old, I was determined that he should use his hands properly, until he showed me that with his feet he could do things without me: it was the first time we played music together. It was then I realized that his feet would allow him to find a way to communicate with the world. Today, at 18, Matias is the editor of videos about my center and intends to study a related university career when he finishes high school.
I encountered the world of disability when I was 17. At that age, I went to live in England as part of a student exchange for almost all of 1987. The family I stayed with had three daughters and the eldest, Debbie, had disabilities and lived with us in the same home. Unknowingly, she opened the possibility of discovering this special world and showed me the way. I discovered music therapy because of it.
Since he was born, I have always accompanied Matias to all his therapy sessions; from occupational therapy to early stimulation and through all you can imagine. It was while searching through books – there was no Internet then – looking for answers to “why things were as they were”, that I realized that I had to take it as a blessing and ask “why not”?
With Matias I have learned to create ramps where there were stairs. Mati was born in 1995 and with him was born a vocation. I discovered that there were many experts in the clinical field who knew what to do, but very few were dealing with the person, let alone the family.
From there I decided that my experience should be shared with others who have a child with special needs and founded the music therapy center CAMINO, which specializes in providing prenatal, family centered music therapy sessions and music classes for people with disabilities.
Considering the Person
I try every day to make a difference and that is what we look for in the heart of all who work at the center. We don’t look only at the clinical history; we listen, observe, and accompany the patient and parents, siblings or caregivers and focus on the potential of the boys and girls instead of considering just the problems.
If you look with pity on your child, people will feel shame. If you are proud of who they are, people will respect them. I also feel parents should do things that make them feel good, such as practice a sport or have a hobby. They (the parents) must be part of this so that they can hold their children if they are fragile and they can transmit security to their child.
Read More-> Super Dadvocates Making a Difference
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2014 Magazine