From Little Things Big Things Grow

Back to blog2 years ago by Jodie on behalf of Helen Eaves
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Little boy with glasses looking at camera while being held by mum who is looking at him
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Read Newcastle mum Helen’s story about her family’s journey with cerebral palsy, and the difference the generosity and expertise of Cerebral Palsy Alliance has made to the day-to-day life of her little boy, George. 

Our story with George began when he suffered a stroke at birth that ultimately led to extensive bleeds and seizures which affected his vision and right side movement. He now has right side hemiplegia cerebral palsy.

George was 5 months before his eyes were able to track and follow movement and was prescribed glasses at 9 months of age. Because of his vision impairment, George relied heavily on sounds in his first few months, and is still a keen music fan.

Now at 21 months, his little personality is constantly emerging. He shows great curiosity in the world around him especially if it makes noise or if it moves.

We first found out George had CP (hemi right side) when George was only 6 months old at a routine hospital appointment when he was not using his right arm. To be honest, even though we knew the brain injury could affect his development, we were not expecting to be told he had cerebral palsy.

We were referred to Cerebral Palsy Alliance at Croudace Bay (near Newcastle) by John Hunter Hospital.

Any initial shock was quickly put to rest from the moment we started dealing with Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

Everyone at the Stuart Centre, from administration to his therapists, all make George and our family feel very important. They share in our enthusiasm for every little achievement and support us in, what can be an extremely emotional journey. Having moved to Newcastle shortly before George’s birth, a lot of our family and friends live in Sydney or overseas, so genuine local support such as this has been invaluable.

George goes to Cerebral Palsy Alliance up to three times a week for physio, occupational therapy and speech therapy. He loves going and has a great relationship with his therapists who take time and effort to plan for sessions that are not only specific to George’s interests and abilities, but are also very easy to continue at home during his daily therapy times with mum.

Before having George I was an Early Childhood Teacher. I love creating play experiences from recycled objects so I find following the therapists suggestions and adaptions on activities a great way to assist George in his progress at home.

Due to this constant therapy at home and at Cerebral Palsy Alliance, in the last few months alone, George has learnt to roll, push himself into a sitting position from lying down and can move forwards on his tummy. He is also beginning to use his right hand more each day.

We joined Cerebral Palsy Alliance in the early stages of NDIS so this has been a huge learning curve for all involved. Whilst we found the new system quite confusing to begin with, the information we received from Cerebral Palsy Alliance staff equipped us for our meetings with the newly formed agency.

What we have learnt, is that early intervention is extremely important in assisting young children with cerebral palsy, and the difficulties parents face in planning and implementing for  their child’s current and future challenges can feel like an uphill battle. Having said this, we are becoming more familiar with the NDIS process and are being successful in obtaining the necessary specialised equipment George needs to help with his posture and mobility.

Ultimately though, we consider ourselves to be the luckiest parents.

Having a child with cerebral palsy means life moves at a different pace. We have quickly learnt not to worry about milestones of others and instead delight and cherish every tiny achievement of our own.

It takes hours of practice for George to learn to do things other children accomplish seemingly overnight, but the reward we get when he succeeds at each goal is indescribable.

The moment George first moved forwards on his tummy is something that will stay with us forever and as long as we are supported by Cerebral Palsy Alliance and NDIA there will hopefully, be a lot more of these moments to come…