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Fundraise on the First: Mum of four-year-old with cerebral palsy praises First Step’s ‘vital’ support

PUBLISHED: 10:17 23 January 2015 | UPDATED: 10:26 23 January 2015

Frances Theodorou with daughters Jasmine and Madelyn

Frances Theodorou with daughters Jasmine and Madelyn

Archant

A struggle for parents of children with special needs and disabilities can be the long road to diagnosis.

And this is something Frances Theodorou knows well.

Frances Theodorou with daughter Jasmine, fourFrances Theodorou with daughter Jasmine, four

It took more than half a year for her daughter Jasmine to be referred to a community paediatrician, who finally confirmed she had cerebral palsy.

Frances, 28, who lives in Collier Row, said: “We had a lot of trouble getting her diagnosed.

“We’d been taking her to a health visitor since she was about six months, as she hadn’t met any of her milestones.

“When she was a year old I took her again and asked to speak to the new health visitor.

“We went into a side room and I just put Jasmine on the floor and said, ‘This is all she does’.

“She was very stiff and couldn’t roll over, crawl, or sit; no milestones apart from her speech.”

The health visitor referred Jasmine to a GP, but after he told the family to wait three months and return if their concerns remained, Frances and her husband Chris, now 30, paid for a private paediatrician, who made the diagnosis.

“It was frustrating,” said the mum-of-four.

“That’s what we had to go through just to get her referred.

“We could see there was something not right.”

Jasmine, born in December 2010, is now four. Her disability affects all her limbs and she is in a wheelchair.

She can sit unaided for only a few minutes and has a form of epilepsy, which is kept under control with medication.

Her parents attended family sessions at First Step after being referred by the paediatrician.

Jasmine then began participating in the pre-school play sessions and now goes three days a week.

The charity’s support has been invaluable.

Frances, who also has daughters Phoebe, seven, Felicity, six, and Madelyn, almost two, said: “For families like us, First Step is vital.

“Before it was always about what Jasmine can’t do, but now it is about what she can do.

“She has fantastic speech and loves to sing.

“It has given her a lot more confidence. She is very determined and will have a go at anything.

“And she has an understanding. She says, ‘I can’t do that because I’m Jasmine,” not because she’s got a problem.”


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