December 20, 2017

AGM 2017 – Watford AM group parent’s speech

I’d like to start by giving you the feedback I got from other Mums in our Watford Monday morning group:

Ron’s Mum, Amy, wrote:

Ron joined Playskill just after he turned one. We joined feeling unsupported, isolated and afraid of the future. After travelling to tonnes of appointments each week we felt like we had no targets or joined-up approach to Ron’s care. We felt very alone!

After being a part of the Playskill team, Ron has progressed and developed hugely. I have an excellent team of specialists to ask questions and help focus Ron in learning whilst having lots of fun through play. Playskill is the fav part of our week. Ron and his sister love attending and I’m not sure what we would do without our sessions.

Key benefits:

  • all specialists under one roof
  • fun and friendly
  • a huge range of activities in one session, which you do not get at any other groups
  • sensory fun
  • targets and support in practising them
  • other parents with similar experiences to share information
  • a family of people who care about Ron!

Another Mum said that Playskill has been very helpful, as it is close to home. She doesn’t drive and had previously been refused transport to attend sessions, so Playskill was heaven-sent. The staff are also very helpful and supportive and improvement was seen from the start.

Ginny’s Mum, Lesley, told me what Playskill means to them:

  • a kind caring environment where your child is given specialist care and attention by an amazing team of people
  • somewhere to meet other families who understand some of the challenges that you and your child are facing
  • somewhere where no-one is making observations/comments about what your child CAN’T do but instead celebrating what they CAN do
  • a source of information on everything from play equipment to financial advice to signing and everything in between.

When I found out that my unborn baby had Down Syndrome, it came as a huge shock to me and my husband. I had never had firsthand experience of Down Syndrome and was scared of the unknown.

After a few months of giving birth I started to notice differences with other babies. I guess I had been in denial – she was interacting so well, it took me a while to realise that she did have considerable needs compared to a typically developing baby. She is my first child, so I really struggled to identify her specific needs. I knew that early intervention was vital, but did not know on what areas I should be focussing my attention to help her. And that is when I started to ask myself whether I was doing everything I could to help Ginny. I was worried and felt lost.

However, I feel it was not only me. Ginny’s friendly and happy personality has sometimes worked against her. For a while I felt her needs were overlooked because of this. The first time she came into contact with and OT and an SLT was at Playskill, when she was already 1 ½. I am eternally grateful that she did because, together with the physio, they have drawn up a plan for her and followed it through week in and week out, working towards her targets and she has, as a result, made huge progress in every area of her development. The entire family at Playskill, from the physio to the person who greets you with a smile and asks you if you would like a hot drink, have been absolutely wonderful to us.

And this leads me on to the next point I wanted to mention which is the importance of meeting other Mums. I heard about Playskill through another Mum at a family support group. At Playskill, during snack time, we leave our children with the staff and go to a different room for approximately 15 minutes to chat to other Mums and get updates on various training sessions and other information. I have found out about most of the services I access for Ginny through word of mouth at Playskill or at my family support group, i.e. through other Mums. This has empowered me to help my daughter.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to say that I when I read about Andrea’s story behind Playskill in the welcome pack I was deeply moved. I believe it is thanks to people like Andrea that the world goes on. I really hope Playskill will go from strength to strength and continue to provide such vital support and guidance to other families, as it has done to us, for a long time to come. To Andrea and all the members of staff at Playskill, THANK YOU!