Hi, my name is Sally and myself, Hector and Alice go to the Hemel Playskill group every Friday afternoon.
My son, Hector, has IDIC 15 a rare chromosome condition that means he has more Chromosome 15 material than you or I. However to me that’s just a label, what this really means for Hector is that he is on a different path in life to his peers. He has severe speech delay, although he can say the most important words ‘biscuit’ ‘scooter’ ‘train’, he has learning difficulties and global developmental delay so his fine motor skills are not the greatest – however much I coax him to do puzzles he’s not having any of it! He also has hypermobility which means he walks/runs a bit like me when I’ve had too much prosecco. Despite this he is very good at both scooting and his balance bike so he keeps me fit running after him on the school run!!
I first heard about Playskills through some mums at another Special Needs Early Years play group that Hector attended, I remember hearing all the mums talking about “Playskills this …Playskills that……” and I thought this sounds like a great group for Hector and I need to found out more about it! After an assessment with Andrea and her team, Andrea positively said “Oh yes we can definitely help Hector” – as a Special Needs parent, you get a lot of ‘he won’t be able to do this or that…’ so I loved this optimistic ‘can-do’ attitude from our first meeting and was so pleased that Hector was welcomed into the Friday Playskills group at Hemel.
Hector has now been going to Playskill since the beginning of this year and I can say wholeheartedly that he and us as a family benefit from Playskills on so many levels – so first of all a big thank you for such a wonderful charity, your passion, hard work and all that you do.
The Friday sessions are busy and fun, an environment which is wholly inclusive – no matter what your label or disability, where the sole aims are to develop your child but to also have fun in doing it. The wealth of knowledge within the team is second to none and cover all the specialists’ therapy areas that Hector needs to access – it’s such a fantastic resource for Hector to benefit from on a weekly basis, setting realistic targets that can be paralleled at home with minimal equipment to progress his development.
What strikes me most about Playskills is the positivity of the team from when you walk through the door, it’s such a happy group that not only promotes Hector’s individual development of his fine motor skills, speech and language, physical development but also his social interaction skills with turn taking games with his peers. The therapists also offer invaluable advice/strategies and take a genuine interest in how to get the most out of Hector. Hector’s key worker Heidi has a great relationship with him and always has a smile on her face no matter how many times she has to tell him to put Peppa to bed – her caring and patient nature is a credit to the team. What was a surprise to me was that most of the team have a personal experience of special needs children so they have a much better understanding of all the challenges a special needs parent faces and can give you some good tips on a number of different matters.
In addition to the therapy Hector receives at Playskills every week, it also provides a fantastic parents forum and a chance for us to have some” time out”, a much needed coffee (and sometimes a slice of yummy home-made cake – don’t stop the supply of those please) – it’s also an opportunity to compare notes and discuss the ins and outs of how we can help our kids in many different ways for example through the education system/EHCP plans, other charity/sport groups – all drawing from the vast experience in the room.
Beyond the Playskill group, what has amazed me the most is the amount of effort that has gone into putting on additional parties and events for all Playskill’s children and their siblings – of which we have enjoyed many – as a special needs parent socialisation and inclusion in peers’ parties and playdates are definitely a concern – you want your child to fit it – but I don’t need to worry as Hector has a busier social life than me!! His sisters’ Heidi and Alice also enjoy all the attention and activities lavished on them.
I think I have been talking for long enough now so will finish off but not without saying a big thank you to Playskills and its team for its regular parents’ workshops, I have been to a number of these and have found them to be vital in providing key strategies to help Hector speak/communicate, potty train (when his time comes, cross fingers!) and strengthening his core stability.
As Hector continues his journey into education we are excited that we can continue to help/support Hector develop his skill set with Playskill and their specialist team – we as a family look forward to a fun year ahead as part of the Playskill’s family! A big thank you!