When our Roxi was diagnosed at 18 months with Cerebral Palsy we were distraught. It was a very difficult time of disbelief, shattered dreams and loss of hope. All of a sudden we found ourselves in a dark tunnel which lead nowhere, we felt like there was no future, no hope and no happiness left for us. Not ever being around people with disabilities before Roxi’s diagnosis we did not know what the future would look like for Roxi and for us. It felt like the end of everything.
When I first spoke with Alison from Sproughton School I felt a great sense of relief. She explained about the school, their work, vision, aims and values. I remember feeling touched by Alison’s pride and personal approach when talking about ‘their’ children and ‘their families’. Of course she did not discuss any individual cases but after speaking with Alison I knew getting a place at the school would make a huge difference to me, the way I felt about Roxi’s recent diagnosis and about our future as a family. I wasn’t wrong. The first visit was the last session before the summer holidays and it was emotional. After 2 years of attending various baby and toddler groups I finally felt ‘normal’! No inquisitive looks, no questions asked, no need to explain. My Roxi was finally accepted and valued for who she was and not judged for who she wasn’t. This was huge and although I cried through the majority of the session and on my way home, I felt a huge sense of relief. For the first time I was able to see a nice future for all of us. Seeing all those children with various difficulties, all happy, smiling, singing and enjoying themselves, this was the future I wanted for Roxi.
We started at the school in September and since then we only missed a few sessions but gained so much; from confidence to look at the brighter side and appreciating the positives rather than focusing on the negatives, through to practical advice about exercise equipment, education and behaviour, being a part of a ‘healing’ group of parents who were going through the same things and appreciated the emotional toll of caring for a disabled child as well as having a laugh and the occasional hug. I can honestly say that coming to the school has been life changing for us. It taught us to appreciate and enjoy our new life with our little girl and changed our, previously unimaginable future into one filled with laughter, joy and opportunities. Perhaps not the future we planned for but coming here helped us realise that although different to what we imagined and prepared ourselves for, our future did not have to be less happy or joyful. It is going to be whatever we want it to be.