When Sally Adams’ son was referred to the Pre-school Assessment Centre in Pulrose she was happy to find it’s full of people who nurture the children and give parents the support and guidance they need.
At four-years-old, Sally’s son Sebastian could only say about 20 words and was still in nappies.
Following their support, he has just started in the reception class at Bunscoill Rhumsaa and is putting his difficulties behind him.
Sally, who lives in Ramsey, urged parents with a child they were concerned about to ‘address the issue, be persistent and keep pushing until you have the support and the guidance which we are fortunate in the Isle of Man to have’.
Sally’s experience has changed her views on children with special needs.
‘I changed from being a person who never gave a thought to the plight of children with special needs to admiring the love and devotion of parents who make tremendous sacrifices for their children to guide them towards a life which they will be able to achieve the best they possibly can.’
But she said there is still ‘immense prejudice’ in society from those who are afraid of special needs, particularly in the playground.
The specialist staff at the Pre-school Assessment Centre teach parents how to cope by giving them strategies and procedures which deal with the behavioural difficulties.
Parents then take what they have learned and develop their own way of handling their child which works.
Sally said: ‘Life suddenly gets better and when you understand how your child is thinking and what he does understand and what is too much for him to take in.
‘Then you can adjust the language you use to make your words meaningful then you get a child who is no longer battling and starts improving.’
‘If you are just beginning on this journey then look forward to it, make the best of it and follow this opportunity given to you. Sometimes the staff will say things which you don’t like. This does not make them wrong, try out their suggestions and watch your child improve.’
Sally said in the supermarket a compassionate attitude from shoppers would be much better than a mumbled comment such as ‘That child needs a good smack’.
She urged shoppers who see a parent struggling with a child to offer help, or even just say hello to the child as often the face of a stranger will calm the situation down and restore order.
‘A kind word rather than a mumbled comment will help that mother or father who will be making sacrifices daily for their child and probably suffering with lack of sleep and daily battles which unless you have experienced you will not comprehend,’ she said.