“Extra Needs & Babywearing”…what I had to say…

So I finally emailed off my written piece on special/additional needs and babywearing a few days ago. I’ve been struggling to decide whether I should publish it here, but I’ve decided to go for it, maybe it might give others an idea of what its kind of  like for us.

My name is Sarah and I gave birth to T* 33+1 weeks into my pregnancy. T* has recently turned 2, she is very short sighted and has developmental delays which currently means she cannot sit unaided, is immobile and her speech is also quite behind. On paper there is reference to ‘evolving Cerebral Palsy’ but currently no formal diagnosis. For T*, this means she lacks core muscle strength, has poor gross and fine motor skills, and experiences tightness through her body.

T*’s difficulties have meant that babywearing is a major part of our lives. As a baby she was uncomfortable on her back, she would startle and panic without support and her body would be rigid. Using a pram was out of the question so it wasn’t long before we were exclusively babywearing. We found that as long as she was being carried her little body was soft and relaxed. Her physio commented that the carrying was helping to keep her open through her hips, where babies like T* tend to be very tight. We also find we can fulfil her need for movement and involve her with every activity, she is always physically supported and being near to my face she can always see me clearly. It’s very important for us that our slings have adequate height, especially for back carries as T* has a tendency to arch her back. Seat darts are always a plus and we really like the curved top on our SSC as it means T* has a bit more support when arms-out. We are late to wraps and now find as she likes her arms out that she is too long in the body to wrap high enough to support her adequately. Front carries in a wrap are a different matter, with a hand to help steady her she reaches to either side, likes to help put food in the shopping trolley and get into everything. Not bad for a little girl who had her hands curled in permanent fists! Babywearing has provided T* with endless opportunities to see, experience and be stimulated, it’s been amazing watching her grow in confidence and actively initiate social interactions with strangers from the safety of her sling. And despite our physio once suggesting that T* may not be able to co-ordinate her movements sufficiently, she can walk with support and will soon have a frame….for me, there’s no doubt that being worn has been a huge factor in all of T*’s improvements. And on another note, baby wearing has enabled me to get on with a few things I enjoy doing, knowing she is up on my back, participating and enjoying as much as I am.

When you are the parent of a special needs child its pretty hard for other people to relate to you. Even family and friends say the wrong things and that’s if they acknowledge the obvious. Doctors and other HCPs are sometimes outright thoughtless. It’s upsetting, especially in the early days when it’s all a bit raw and you are feeling overwhelmed and hugely protective of your child. I just wanted to be spoken to kindly, without too much emphasis on my little girl’s challenges (I try not to use the word ‘problem’). I don’t like people talking about T* as if she’s not there or making assumptions about our limitations. I appreciate a ‘can do’ approach and someone listening to our needs. T* hated being touched by strangers for a long time and her impaired vision means she often doesn’t see people until they are very close, so being respectful of her personal space is paramount! I know the future is uncertain and progress comes in fits and starts, I never expect other people to understand what we are going through, but it’s very much appreciated when they treat us with empathy and sensitivity.

So, there is it. I hope that the course finds this useful! And I hope you do too xx


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Gemma
    Sep 02, 2011 @ 22:42:36

    Beautifully written 🙂


  2. Chesterfield sling library
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 12:16:02

    beautifully written,thankyou for sharing x


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