When we found out our daughter had global developmental delay we felt devastated - protective, scared, depressed. It affected the whole family. In general terms it made life difficult as our daughter always had to come first, so we felt constantly guilty about not spending enough time with our 2 boys. I couldn't continue in my career, which meant we also had to get used to being broke all the time. My wife wanted us to have more children, but I won't.
My daughter's learning disability hasn't affected my relationship with her at all - she's a little ray of sunshine. But it upsets my wife that they will never get to do "girly" things like going shopping together. We're both on anti-depressants, and we cannot just go and visit someone as their house has to be proofed for our daughter first.
My daughter's learning disability hasn't affected my relationship with her at all - she's a little ray of sunshine.
Her brothers were bullied on the bus because their sister was a "retard". It got so bad that in the end they had to change schools. It also made it difficult for them to invite friends round - they have to be watchful all the time and make sure that doors are shut as their sister has no concept of risk.
We had support from a health visitor, who wasn't much use, but the 2 doctors allocated to our daughter's case were very helpful. We were also offered support from a social worker and an occupational therapist, as well as respite care and shared care, although this didn't work out for us. Our GPs were, and are, very helpful. They fit us in at the drop of a hat as they understand that our daughter cannot communicate what is the matter with her.
At first we found it hard to find appropriate child minding services and play schemes, but now we have direct payments we can choose and employ our own support. When our daughter was 3 we contacted the special schools in our area and visited them. We didn't get any information about the choices available to us - we just made up our own minds.
When you're thinking about schools, it's important to remember that even though there may be a lot of paperwork, it's crucial to pick exactly the right environment to meet your child's needs. It will make life so much easier in the future. Don't give up and don't ever settle for second best.
When you're thinking about schools, it's important to remember that even though there may be a lot of paperwork, it's crucial to pick exactly the right environment to meet your child's needs.
We took it upon ourselves to get in contact with other professionals through social services and our daughter's school. We started building up good contacts with local voluntary groups, Mencap, Families In Focus, our local children's team and the Play and Resource Centre. We also got in touch with other parents and carers, and our sons attended a siblings club for a while.
Now, my advice for other parents would be: don't panic, start making plans for every stage of your child's life and keep these plans up to date. Fight for everything your child needs and deserves.
Life is different but there's still a lot of joy (as well as heartache).
Direct payments: in some cases, individuals may be able to receive support for their local council as cash, allowing them to choose the services they want for themselves.