A different type of perfect

From Nine To Noon, 11:28 am on 12 February 2015

Kelly Dugan

Christchurch father Kelly Dugan has a three year-old daughter Lucia with special needs. He speaks openly about the realities of raising her and the day-to-day struggles. He wrote about Lucia:

My daughter's 'a different type of perfect'. I have a child with special needs. I am that guy, we are that family. The ones you see at the park and you think, "I wonder what is wrong with that kid". That is us. I knew nothing about people with special needs until I had one, a child with brain injuries, a "special needs" kid.

Kelly Dugan doesn't sanitise the day-to-day struggles of raising Lucia, who was deprived of oxygen at birth.

'Our darling Lucia has a perfect brain stuck in a broken chassis, we live day to day, inside there's just a little girl who wants to go to the park and run around and go on the slide'.

'We were told at birth she wouldn't be able to walk and talk, we can't believe that, if we believe she won't do these things then we might not do everything we possibly can to help her make progress, it hurts to push her, but we have to strive to help her.'

He said it's hard to see her in pain and struggling.

"I dread the day she signs to me or is able to talk and says to me Dad why am I like this'

Kelly Dugan is also the CEO of SmileDial, a registered charity that was established in 2011 with the simple goal of putting Smiles on the Dials of families with children with special needs.

SmileDial supports all family members (rather than focusing on the child with the illness or disability) ensuring that mums, dads and siblings all have Smiles on their Dials.

Kelly Dugan talks to Kathryn Ryan.