“It wasn’t until Lucy was about one that we really realised something was different. We began to notice several things that Lucy was delayed in, especially when we compared her development to that of her older brother James. Like many families there has been no diagnosis given other than the ‘catch all’ Global Development delay. Her communication was severely delayed and her behaviour often erratic and attention seeking. Difficulties with her nursery placement due mainly to behaviour was giving us concerns over her ability to manage in a mainstream setting, even with support.
The point when Lucy had to go to school and the realisation of looking around Special Needs Schools was quite emotionally devastating and really took some getting used to. It felt like I was saying to the world ‘my child is not mainstream’ and I found that scary. However, I soon realised that it was the best thing for Lucy as she was being taught what was specifically needed for her and not following a national curriculum. It’s the same at The Hamlet, the staff and volunteers give Lucy the right sort of attention and have patience and enthusiasm to understand Lucy’s specific needs.
Lucy’s communication is perhaps the most frustrating thing for her and the thing that challenges people the most. At The Hamlet, staff have the right knowledge and frame of mind to support Lucy with her communication and encourage her to use it positively.
I know Lucy loves coming to The Hamlet. She runs through the door and shows her mischievous smile to the staff as she is welcomed by them. It makes it so much better to see that she is happy. You feel at ease about leaving her as though it is a special treat.”
Jonathan goes on to explain that Lucy has attended the Youth Club for the past 4 years… “Youth club has been brilliant for Lucy because it is a regular event and she knows exactly what to expect from it. We know she feels safe and happy there. The staff are fantastic! We receive a programme of activities prior to attending which Lucy really likes. The activities are engaging and clearly thought about. What we like is we have no worries. It is a safe environment where she is well looked after.
Having a place like The Hamlet provides us with huge benefits too. We can do things that we can’t do with Lucy. Simple stuff; go shopping, things around the house, taking James shopping and get clothes for him or playing a game of squash with him. It’s really one of the few times that James can have sole focus on him and making him feel that he has the time and option to be with us more. There is not an option for that when Lucy is around. Lucy needs adult supervision for 95% of the time which has a real impact on us all. Sometimes, you just have to have a break from Lucy, especially if her behaviour is not in a good place. 6 hours respite from that behaviour really helps us. Just time to sit in the kitchen, have a coffee and read a newspaper. Time for you. Breathing time. When you don’t have that it is difficult. You need it to keep you sane and happy. Lucy will always be my princess and I love her to bits, but you do need that respite every so often.
Another great thing about coming to The Hamlet is the comfort in knowing that there are other people and families who are experiencing similar challenges to you. Sometimes people are having a harder time than you and it is good to talk to them. I feel inspired by them and it gives you the motivation to try different things. I can also feel at ease knowing that they can empathise and understand.”
Thank you to Jonathan, Lucy, and family for sharing their experiences of The Hamlet.