“In 2017 our lives changed forever when our son was born. However, it wasn’t a normal start for us as first time parents. It became apparent quite quickly that our son had several complex health needs, which significantly separated him from his peers.
Leo has a cleft palate, he is deaf, has a developmental delay, has 3 holes in his heart, epilepsy and rare genetic condition to name but a few.
The first year of his life was really tough for us as parents, we would attend groups for children locally in a search to find some sort of normality to our lives however we would frequently leave these groups in tears as the workers and other parents didn’t understand the struggles we were going through and found it difficult to support Leo’s needs.
Then we were told about a group called Playskill…. A group helping children with physical disabilities. I was apprehensive to even make contact initially. However, I did. And just like that our lives changed forever.
I didn’t leave this group feeling deflated, upset or in tears. I left feeling safe in the knowledge that there were people who were so willing to help us. They recognised we had a child who had a physical disability but were so happy to help us, embrace us and welcome us into their community.
Playskill gave us hope that we once thought we would never be given.
We were told by several health care professionals that our son had severe disabilities and the doctors told us that he wouldn’t amount to anything.
Today, I proudly stand here and tell you about Leo’s achievements through Playskill and how without them none of it would have been possible because they truly believed in him from the start, they gave us the tools through regular parent training sessions to help us aid his development and never under estimated him and still don’t.
When we initially started Playskill Leo had poor head control, spent several hours of the day lying static on his back and unable to roll and found it difficult to even grasp or play with toys and was only able to drink milk.
Today, Leo can independently sit, crawl (at speed) around a room. With the interventions of Playskill he now trying to stand with assistance – something we were told would never be possible. He now regularly participates in circle time pressing the Hello button to say hello to all his friends. His favourite part of the session is singing and joining in with all the songs at song time. He will now sit with his peers and eat with supervision at snack time. These things that may seem so trivial to other people – BUT make the difference to us and make us the proudest parents in the world.
As parents we are given a moment of respite and offered tea and cake whilst the Playskill team feed our children and engage with messy play. This moment every week gives us a welcome moment where mums and dads can catch up with one another and share information. Parents we have met through Playskill have become firm friends for life. We are so grateful to have as they understand the daily struggle we go through supporting children with additional needs.
These sessions every week offering our son regularly physio, speech and language and occupational therapy has become imperative to our son’s development. In addition to this they also have a Parent Support Worker willing to help and support us through Hertfordshire county council’s complex education system.
And to top it all off, all this is done through charity donations, the kindness and generosity of people and support of local funding and grants which isn’t secure and is so desperately required to ensure all this good work can continue
Playskill has truly changed our lives and our sons. We will be forever indebted for what they have given us so we would just like to take this moment to say… Thank you.”