By JUDY LUCAS
Like many parents, the memory of my daughter taking her first steps is one that I’ll treasure forever.
Unlike most other children, Ashleigh was almost four years old before she took her first steps, and it required months of intense physiotherapy and a specialised piece of equipment called a Hart Walker.
It’s hard to put into words how I felt when I saw Ashleigh standing upright and in the Hart Walker for the first time. The most powerful thing for me was the look on her face. Ashleigh knew exactly what was going on and she was just so proud of herself. For the first time in her life she was standing up independently. For the first time in her life she was eye to eye with her big brother Josh.
Ashleigh had a rough start to life. She was born at 27 weeks, and really struggled from birth. When she was around 10 days old, she was diagnosed with meningitis. She was treated with antibiotics, but then was struck with a second bout of meningitis. The doctors did a brain scan, and this was when they saw that she has brain damage.
When we received the diagnosis of cerebral palsy, we were devastated. We were devastated for her and for us and for what our future would hold. We knew nothing about cerebral palsy. We just knew that this was going to hugely affect Ashleigh’s life, and our life as a family.
Ashleigh has come such a long way since her diagnosis. We have been lucky to have support from amazing organisations, like Scope who provided Ashleigh with her Hart Walker. She is a very social little butterfly, loves being around people, her friends and other children. She goes to childcare two days a week where she enjoys painting and drawing and being read stories. Like most other kids her age, Ashleigh absolutely loves Peppa Pig.
A couple of weeks ago, Ashleigh had the chance to meet Peppa Pig in real life. Ashleigh was just so excited to meet her favourite character. She was full of smiles that day. It was a very special time for us, to see Ashleigh in her Hart Walker meeting someone that makes her so happy.