“Jack was born prematurely at 32 weeks and he suffered a bleed to his brain either during or shortly after his birth. We were told that there was a risk of Cerebral Palsy, a neurological condition, which causes problems in the brain and nervous system and affects movement and co-ordination. However, in the early days Jack was meeting all his milestones, such as smiling and it wasn’t until he was six months old that my sister noticed his arms were unusually stiff. We were referred to a Physiotherapist, who confirmed Jack did indeed have Cerebral Palsy.
Despite his diagnosis, Jack was a relatively healthy child at this time. It was just that he was affected physically; he was not able to sit, stand, walk or crawl. When he was twenty months old, sadly his Dad passed away. Jack was the youngest of three children and it was really hard.
At four years old Jack started using a wheelchair. He later developed scoliosis (curvature) in his spine and he began to get chest infections nearly every month as a result. When he was ten years old, he had rods inserted into his spine to reduce the scoliosis. Subsequently, his posture improved and the number of infections decreased.
Jack attended a pre-school and received 1:1 support. Following this, he went to mainstream school 3 days a week and a special school 2 days a week, until about 3 years ago when he went to the special school full time. It was another parent who mentioned The Hamlet to me about nine years ago. Prior to this, we had received little or no respite and attended no other groups.
The Hamlet has changed our lives; Jack loves it! He is now fifteen years old and has moved from attending Short Breaks play schemes at weekends and school holidays to Youth Club one evening a week. It’s fantastic; it’s given him an outlet and it’s something for him to do which isn’t with me! He loves people and he’s made lots of friends at The Hamlet. He particularly enjoys anything with computers, karaoke and football. A standout moment for him was when he was a mascot for a Norwich City football match, arranged by The Hamlet. It was an amazing day!
Attending The Hamlet has worked wonders for Jack’s confidence; he now goes out with his friends and he doesn’t feel that he’s any different to anybody else. It’s given him a new, positive outlook and it means a lot to me to see that he’s turning into a really happy and confident person. His speech has developed greatly, as have his social skills – he’s now such a ‘people person!’
Personally, I’ve also gained a lot from The Hamlet – such as support, information and respite – which has actually given me some freedom and time to be with my other children. While Jack is enjoying himself at The Hamlet, I’m able to do activities with them, which is really important for our family. I’ve also made a lot of friends via The Hamlet, plus both my daughter and I now volunteer as we wanted to give something back to the charity that has helped our family so much.”
Julie, Jack’s Mum