Ever since Ella was a tiny baby there has been huge emphasis on supporting and helping her development. Over the last three years she's had medical and developmental input from physiotherapy, speech therapy, dietitians, paediatrician, specialist nurses, cardiac team, feeding clinic, play therapist, portage, sensory support service, ophthalmologist, educational psychology, ENT consultant, audiology, pre-school special needs service. Their knowledge, experience, treatment and interventions have all impacted Ella and contributed to how well she is doing today.
As Ella's mum, I took all the advice we were given on board. I don't think a day has gone by over the last three years when I haven't thought about Ella's physical development, speech, understanding or her heart and feeding issues and how best to address or overcome them. Depending on what Ella needed, I too became a physio, speech therapist, dietitian, play specialist, advocate, teacher, nurse. Just being her mum often came second, third (sometimes fourth) down the list and it's only now looking back that I see that.
One of the earliest things I picked up on was that play was also an opportunity for Ella to learn. Even now, I find it very hard to just let Ella play without incorporating a learning agenda - shapes, colours, letters, numbers, speech sounds, counting... She's getting wise to it though, often refusing to co-operate or answering my questions incorrectly with a mischievous grin on her face...
A couple of weeks ago I went to a talk by Debby Elly who has twin boys on the autistic spectrum. She started the Aukids magazine which is published monthly and is also a platform for lots of other autism related resources.
There was one thing she said during her presentation that stuck with me. When you have a child with additional needs you can get caught up in all the extra help and therapy they need and the worry of the unknown, such as when will she achieve something and how well will she do it?
Her take home message for me was simply 'stop being your child's therapist'. Stop being their therapist and just be a mum. That's when things really happen because you take away the stress and the need for a result.
I'm taking her advice on board, from now on - no hidden agendas, I'll let Ella lead me.
Just being a mum... the rest will follow xx