December 20, 2017

AGM 2017 – Watford PM Parents talk

We met our daughter Luna on a hospital ward when she was 7 months old after being asked by Islington Local Authority if we would foster her. Luna was born at 24 weeks weighing less than a bag of sugar – she spent most of her first 7 months in hospital and it was during this time they discovered she also had a rare chromosome deletion disorder. After a short period of time at home with her birth family she returned to hospital and was placed in foster care.

Luna has global developmental delay, is fed for 17 hours a day via a feeding pump, uses Makaton signing to communicate although in recent months has started to say some words and is now quite fast when walking with her Kaye Walker!

The early months of caring for Luna were undeniably challenging- frequent periods of hospitalisation and appointments and never ending home visits from professionals! When I reflect on those times I really wonder how Luna ever managed to make any sense of what was going on around her – to us it felt chaotic and unpredictable to her it simply must have felt terrifying……

As life settled down we began to realise as a family that Luna belonged with us and so we put ourselves forward as Adopters. At a very similar time through other parents we had met along the way we heard about Playskill. Andrea and the Playskill team were immediately supportive and although Luna struggled with her initial assessment they like us, could see her potential.

Luna has been attending the Watford PM group since September 2016 and it has taken her almost all of that time to look forward to coming to the group. Staff have shown endless patience and understanding of her specific needs and now Luna is truly reaping the rewards. She has literally come on in leaps and bounds – not just in what she can do but how she feels about herself and the confidence and trust she has developed in others.

When people ask us what we hope Luna’s future will look like. We always say- the same as her siblings – to be happy, healthy and to have friends and family who love her. A couple of weeks ago we had a real breakthrough with Luna on a Playskill day. When I showed her her communication schedule she happily chose the photos for playskill and Kerry (her keyworker who by the way is fantastic with a brilliant sense of humour). On our journey there, none of the usual tears and sickness caused by anxiety but smiles and happy vocalisations. During the session with support she played a turn taking game with another child. Later that evening when my husband and I were getting her ready for her bath she signed ‘playing, friend and the initial letter of the other girls name’. Sounds like such a small thing but as we all know these small things with our children are massive achievements and often things we have worked on for many months.

We will always be grateful to Playskill for helping us support Luna in her early years. She has literally blossomed in the sessions. It has been a huge advantage for Luna that she gets to see all of the therapists weekly in a familiar context. As her trust in the adults has grown she is increasingly able to participate and actively learn.

I have a terrible habit of thinking about everything in terms of pros and cons but there are no cons when it comes to Playskill but so many pros;

  • warm smiling faces as we arrive
  • the wonderfully inclusive ‘hello’ session
  • holistic child centred advice and guidance from the therapists
  • endless enthusiasm, kind words and encouragement from all the staff
  • the opportunity to meet other parents and carers
  • coffee and cake!
  • And increasingly the chance of seeing our daughter happily separate from me and join in group activities. This is such an important milestone for her and really gives me faith that when the time is right she will also be able to do this at school too.

So thank you Playskill we feel very privileged to be part of one of your groups.