Following the birth of our daughter, Annabelle, we began to notice small things that didn’t seem right. From a very young age, Annabelle had many chest infections, and it became evident that she wasn’t reaching milestones at the correct stage like most other children her age. At 10 months old, Annabelle was admitted into hospital for a month due to a severe chest infection and it was after this admission that investigations started, with lots of hospital appointments, MRIs and testing.
Following this, Annabelle was eventually diagnosed with Global Developmental Delay, Hypotonia and Cerebral Palsy, although the diagnosis was very gradual. We felt that very little information was provided following the diagnosis, and therefore had to do a lot of our own research. The diagnosis initiated a grieving process, and we felt there was a lack of follow up care for the family.
Annabelle’s conditions have a large impact on us as a family. We have had to teach Annabelle everything; things taken for granted such as sitting up and walking have had to be taught, all of which require lots of input, time and energy. The diagnosis has also impacted the relationship between me and my husband, with us being fully invested in Annabelle and the progress she is making. Additionally, Annabelle has constant and on-going appointments, including medical appointments and therapy sessions, which average to around 12 appointments each week, leading to a very structured and busy life.
We were introduced to The Maypole Project through a combination of a friend who already accessed the service and a health visitor who suggested the project; finding the referral process very positive for us as a family. As a family we access couple counselling, individual counselling therapeutic play sessions for Annabelle and play therapy for our older son James. We have found couple counselling incredibly helpful, with it providing us with the time to open up to each other and communicate, enabling us to go through the grieving process together. Additionally, it has allowed us to explore our thoughts and feelings, and feel it is an invaluable support service. Through the therapeutic play sessions offered to Annabelle, she has made lots of progress and loves attending the sessions. It also provides me with one hour to do other things, which may not seem a long time to others, but enables me to check my emails and take a little bit of time out from being both Annabelle’s mother and carer. Before starting play therapy, James, aged 5, was displaying aggressive traits. However, as the play therapy sessions have progressed, James seems to be a lot calmer.
The Maypole Project really does focus on the entire family, and the flexible nature means that unlike other services, sessions can be scheduled to fit into our lives, and are not limited just to evenings. We feel the Maypole Project really does provide ongoing support, and is always there when required.