Pam: Our wonderful little boy Max is two and half. He’s our first baby. Max is a very happy, smiley little boy. He honestly just makes you laugh.
Max goes to a playgroup for children with additional needs, and he is planning to go to nursery later this year.
Max’s cerebral palsy affects him in that he has random movements that he can’t always control. He has poor balance. So, he’s good at walking if you’re holding him, and he’s getting that nice support, but as soon as you let go, he falls down.
Max was a lockdown baby so for a while it was just the three of us on our own, and I’d started noticing that Max wasn’t really achieving with his gross motor skills as well as he should have been.
“Our priority was very much, “What can we do to get Max more help?””
When Max got his diagnosis it was at a child development clinic, but at that point only one parent could attend appointments. I was on my own with Max when we were told he had cerebral palsy. That was quite difficult. It was hard for me to tell John, but at the same time it was hard to hear that diagnosis on your own without having anyone or any support.
We got an NHS physio and occupational therapist in place quickly, but I didn’t know where to go for support. We were feeling really quite emotional, and our priority was also very much, “What can we do to get Max more help?” So through Google I found out about Cerebral Palsy Scotland and sent an email.
First I spoke with one of the therapists, Petra, virtually, and from there she invited us to the Baby buds group.
“It was extra learning for us”
We were still finding our feet with everything and I remember being nervous about going. But everyone was so nice, so helpful, so friendly. The staff were amazing and the other parents that were already going were so welcoming, and that made a huge difference.
Max loved being around the other children and I think it really developed his skills, particularly his gross motor and his communication skills.
Our own NHS physio is a really, really good physio, and she’s been amazing for us. But she’s restricted to how much time she spends with us. So the time at Baby buds made a huge difference. The communication support was really useful. We saw how Max could use the PODD books – things we didn’t know about. So it was extra learning for us.
We went on to do a group of individual therapy sessions this year. Our goals were getting Max from lying down to sitting by himself and self-feeding.
Max loved going. It was very play-based. And rather than coming across as therapy, for Max it was very much coming across as play. The therapists were amazing to be honest, they were just such lovely people.
In the sessions we got lots of different ideas on how Max can try and get himself from lying to sitting – things we hadn’t thought of before.
“Coming to Cerebral Palsy Scotland gave us more options, a wider toolkit”
John: It was good to see different things at Cerebral Palsy Scotland that really help Max. Things that are hard to find on your own, unless you know or you’ve been told what to look for.
For his self-feeding we tried the angled cutlery and bowls with different shapes. Using the wedges and rolls have really helped Max get accustomed to tummy time. And we also found out about the ‘hug vest’, which is a wee weighted vest that really calms his movements down. Instead of always sitting behind Max and holding him, that’s allowed us to sit in front of him, so we can play and interact with him a lot more. So that’s been really good.
Pam: Some days are harder than others, but if I hadn’t sent that email to Cerebral Palsy Scotland that day, then actually we might be a position where we’re not maybe as optimistic about things. We always want to make sure Max will have as many opportunities as he can. For us, coming to Cerebral Palsy Scotland gave us more options, a wider toolkit. It has definitely made a difference.