Our daughter Imogen is 7 – she’s our only child. She has a lovely personality, and she’s a happy, caring girl.
Imogen was a premature baby and she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was around two and a half. It came as a big shock to us; no one had mentioned cerebral palsy up to that point. We had questioned it at times, but her delays were mainly put down to her being a premature baby.
Imogen’s cerebral palsy affects her in different ways. Over lockdown she made lots of progress with sitting, she started to move around, and her speech is coming on leaps and bounds. She is able to stand, but not unaided, and she is working on her walking skills.
But her cerebral palsy holds her back a bit from certain things she wants to do, and so she can sometimes be very frustrated because of that. My wife, Rachel, and I still need to support Imogen with a lot of day-to-day activities. It takes away some of that independence that she wants to have.
We first heard about Cerebral Palsy Scotland through a therapist in the US. I was in touch with her through social media and she recommended some therapists who were UK-based, including Cerebral Palsy Scotland.
Now that Imogen is older, we haven’t been getting as much therapy from our local NHS team as we used to. Plus, we felt as parents we didn’t have enough skills and information to help her progress. So we decided to get in touch.
“They were things we had never been properly shown before we came, but that she really needed.”
When we came to Cerebral Palsy Scotland we worked with Lesley and Sandra, two of the therapists. At first, we were keen that Imogen worked on her standing and walking. But one of the things we realised after we started the sessions was that Imogen needed to work up to that, and first focus on building the foundations for those skills.
So we worked a lot on movements like twisting and reaching down to extend her muscles. They were things we had never been properly shown before we came, but that she really needed.
Another thing we worked on was side-sitting. We’d never been shown that before. Imogen picked up on it so quickly, and now it’s something she does at home on a daily basis. It means she can sit independently in a way that is still challenging her. It may sound to other people like a small thing, but it’s a huge step for her. It’s a first building block on her journey to move from sitting to standing up herself.
“It’s giving her the tools she needs to do these day-to-day actions on her own.”
Another thing Imogen learnt about is ‘safe hands’ – how to move from one position to another on her own and use her hands to keep her safe so she won’t fall over. Now that’s embedded in her head and she always uses her safe hands every day. Before she would need our help. It helps take the frustration away from these moments.
For Imogen, things like that are life-changing. It’s giving her the tools she needs to do these day-to-day actions on her own. That has been so beneficial.
“Whenever we came out of a session, we always felt positive.”
It was great to see Imogen being pushed to her limits, and to be told, “You can do this” and see her make progress. That felt really comforting. Lesley and Sandra were amazing and Imogen always enjoyed herself – she really came out of her shell. Looking at Imogen before she came to the sessions, it’s almost as if she didn’t know she was capable of doing the things she can now do.
The sessions were a huge learning and educational curve for me and Rachel too. We loved the sessions. We were involved in everything, and whenever we came out of a session, we always felt positive. That really sticks in my mind.
I think if we hadn’t come for therapy, Imogen would be a bit more frustrated that she is. She has picked up techniques that she is now using daily that have made a big difference for her. My wife and I wouldn’t have the same knowledge of techniques, and we might have been pushing Imogen to try for things which, at this stage, aren’t as realistic. It’s helped us understand where Imogen is at and how to help her progress; how to build the foundations to take her on to the next stage.