Kathryn is the youngest of our three children. She was born at full term, following a normal pregnancy. However, at four months old Kathryn was diagnosed as having had a skull fracture since birth, which had caused fluid to build up around her brain. Kathryn had an urgent MRI scan, quickly followed by surgery to insert a VP shunt to relieve the pressure in her brain and allow the fracture to heal. She later required a seven hour operation to repair her skull.
Throughout all of this, we were becoming increasingly concerned that Kathryn wasn't using her left arm at all. It was like her left side just didn't exist to her. At seven months old, we were told that Kathryn had unilateral cerebral palsy and because of the damage to her brain, she would struggle to control the left side of her body. Only time would tell how badly affected she would be.
This was our lowest point. We didn't know what the future held for Kathryn but knew it would be a difficult one. At times like these you just want to find something to hold onto, anything to make you feel like you are doing something. We spent hours doing research and came across a type of movement therapy which helped children who had motor disorders, just like Kathryn.
Amazingly, it appeared we had a centre that was quite close to us, so we emailed Steps, just on the off chance that they might see Kathryn and be able to help her. It's so hard reaching out, as its at that point you're admitting that there is something really wrong. You think – "Maybe Kathryn isn't affected badly enough for them to help. They probably have loads of other children that need help more".
The welcome we received when we took Kathryn to Steps for the first time was like nothing we had experienced before. It was so friendly, so positive, and so warm. They just seemed to know what we were going through, they got it like no-one else did, even our families.
We were unsure at first whether Kathryn could manage the intensive therapy she was getting at such a young age, but the patience and enthusiasm of the Steps team knew no bounds.
Slowly, we started to see small improvements. Her strength and endurance growing, her awareness of her left side increasing, her greater willingness just to try and do more.
Then there was the moral support. Steps became a rock in our week, where Kathryn was getting help, and we felt we could see light at the end of a very long tunnel.
Kathryn is now two and a half years old and is the most loving, playful and determined child you will ever meet. Without Steps, there is no way she would be as coordinated and confident as she is. Kathryn has recently learnt to walk, which Steps has played a major role in. Although her development is still delayed in many ways, the ongoing support we get from Steps is nothing short of phenomenal.
To our family, Steps isn't just a therapy centre, it's a lifeline.