Every day, little champions with brain injuries overcome challenges such as going to school in a wheelchair or struggling to eat, and every day some amazing parents help their little champions achieve their goals.
At Birth Injury Info, we care about providing you with free information and support on a whole range of challenges. That’s why we asked parents to share their top tips on living with a child affected by a brain injury. The response was amazing and we would love to hear your thoughts. Here are a few that we found particularly inspirational and we hope you do too.
We think you will agree, that these amazing children really are little champions.
How can I help my child get out and about?
For many of us mobility is deeply linked to independence, so a child who is able to move around on their own is likely to feel more free, whilst also gaining strength and vital physical and spatial awareness skills. Emma recommends the Kaye Walker:
“My little girl has gained a lot of confidence from the Kaye Walker and uses it at school or whenever we leave the house.”
Geraldine recommends a Crelling Harness:
“My daughter had outgrown her car seat which had a 3 point harness and when we swapped over to a seat that used the car’s seat belt we found that she would remove the belt and try and move about in the car which was dangerous and compromised her safety. We purchased a harness that attached to the back of the car seat which secured her in the seat and she is actually happier when travelling as she finds the straps comforting.” Crelling harnesses are designed to be used on vehicle, aircraft, wheelchair or bathing seats. They offer postural support and some degree of restraint.
Photo credit: Quest 88 – The Kaye Walker is an adjustable frame that can be adapted as the child grows, whilst removing the barrier in front of the child and encouraging independent movement.
How can I help my child with sleeping?
Irregular sleeping patterns can be a constant challenge, and managing the bedtimes of children with brain injuries can be particularly difficult. Geraldine recommends a Safespace for her little champion:
“My little girl outgrew her child’s cot bed and due to her challenging behaviour it was unsafe for her to sleep in a standard child’s bed. We needed an appropriate sleeping arrangement and a Safespace was recommended. It is very versatile and also serves as a relaxing/chill out or sensory space.”
Photo credit: Safespaces – Create a room that is safe and can be adapted to meet the sensory needs of a child at any given moment.
How can I help my child with drooling?
Neckerchief bibs are really absorbent but don’t look like your average bib. They are great for image conscious little champions.
Helping with toileting or managing incontinence?
Incontinence is a daily reality for many parents of a child with a brain injury, from the challenges involved with training, to where to change pads. We asked parents who know this reality all too well and hope that these tips are useful. Emma recommends a toilet trainer:
“The toilet trainer comes with a small padded seat, a step to put feet on and handles either side for my daughter to hold on to. It can either go on the ground over a potty or on a normal toilet.”
Geraldine recommends Swimsters which are designed for incontinent swimmers. She also recommends Changing Places, a website that has collated a database of toilet and changing facilities.
“Going out as a family with a disabled child who is doubly incontinent was difficult, so finding out about ‘Changing Places’ has made it less daunting because we can plan ahead and find a changing place with the right equipment needed which has enabled us to go to places we never would have previously gone to.”
Photo credit: Changing Places via Aveso Ltd. – Find a suitable location to change when you are out and about in new areas.
How can I help my child’s learning and creativity?
Phill & Zoe have a number of techniques that they have used to develop their little boy’s communication skills:
“We continually talk to our son and using a private SALT teacher helped loads before he started school. He doesn’t speak much, but can say a few words. We use the words he can use and he understands so much more than he speaks, and he answers my questions with a yes or no. For example, we can ask him when he needs food or drink, the toilet, if he is tired, if he wants us to change music or TV and much more. It is limited, but we all know what he needs and wants, within reason. I would say that this is a major help and tackling this from an early age really does show a benefit as it allows us to communicate.”
Emma recommends pencil grippers, these help to overcome limited dexterity and introduce the potential of writing and drawing: “Pencil grippers help my child know where to put her hand on the pencil. They also make the pencil a bit fatter which makes it easier to hold”. A Groovz also helps with writing and drawing by holding the upper arm steady while the lower arm can write.
Overcoming challenges with eating?
Zoe and Phill have developed a useful way for mealtimes to be that much more manageable. “For our little boy, mealtimes have taken a few years and hours of patience to get to where we are today. He has everything orally and eats pretty normally. He will only eat at home and out and about with music on – he likes very up to date music.”
Share your advice…
Be the first to share your top tips on helping your little champion on our Facebook page. If you have any top tips on living with a little champion, from potty training to your favourite family day out we would love to hear from you and we might even share your tips with other amazing parents.