Mum Crystal explains how Jennifer’s life-long input from the therapists at Cerebral Palsy Scotland has helped them.
Jennifer is 20 now, but she’s been coming to Cerebral Palsy Scotland since she was a wee girl. We still use all the DVD recordings from her therapy sessions at the centre over the years – they’re my guide when I work with Jennifer on her physio, to remind us of different exercises and to make sure I’m doing it properly.
Jennifer had six major operations in the space of a year when she was 12 and the trauma from that meant she developed selective mutism, so she only speaks with me and her sister – it’s very difficult. So many people, like my sister, are desperate to hear her talk, because they haven’t heard her talk since she was 12.
Building trust with people is very important for Jennifer, and it takes her a long time to trust others. She has worked with Sandra and Lesley at the Cerebral Palsy Scotland centre over the years, and she really trusts them and likes them. She trusts what they’re saying.
When Jennifer moved into adult services, I wasn’t happy with the level of physiotherapy support we got. Jennifer had had surgery on her knee a couple of years before, but then during Covid she suddenly started to get real problems with it again and she became terrified to stand. She couldn’t stand at times – there were times I couldn’t get her to move – and she was asking me “Why are my legs not working?, her legs were shaking and she was absolutely terrified.
That was when Sandra and Lesley from Cerebral Palsy Scotland came to the rescue. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I called them and they got Jennifer into the centre as soon as possible. If it hadn’t been for them I don’t know what I would have done. I don’t know how we would have got by that.
At the sessions, we worked on her balance. We worked on different stretches on her shoulder and neck. Sandra and Lesley also really worked on building up Jennifer’s confidence, so she wouldn’t be so anxious of standing and walking.
It took a wee while, but the shakiness in her legs started to calm down, and she gradually started to become less frightened about standing. She listens to Sandra and Lesley, so their guidance and reassurance made a huge difference. They are absolutely fantastic.
They also put us in touch with a clinical psychologist, to help Jennifer with her anxiety and to give us some techniques to support her with that. As far as I’m concerned, Cerebral Palsy Scotland deals with the whole person, and that’s the way that it should be – they realise that the physical side and the mental side impact each other.
And they also support me too, because I have my own health issues, and Sandra and Lesley are great at suggesting ways that I can help Jennifer, without hurting myself. They have also been able to suggest exercises that Jennifer can do on her own, which benefits both of us – and Jennifer has kept that up, she’s still doing those exercises herself.
Now, Jennifer’s not got the panic attacks when she’s trying to stand and she’s not so shaky. She’s happier to move a wee bit more independently around the house. I’m really grateful to Cerebral Palsy Scotland, they gave us a lifeline, and they helped us both at a really difficult time.