Wonderful Women: Being a mum of a disabled adult

How to raise a disabled child

Today’s Wonderful Women feature is an interview with Sharon, a nanny of three (almost four) and mummy to Lauren, who suffers with cerebral palsy.

Sharon was nominated for this feature because her whole life has been full of sacrifices as a parent of a disabled child. She gave up her career to be Lauren’s full time carer and has been in that role for nearly 27 years now! She also raised her two older boys into adulthood as a single mum… Let’s give it up for Sharon!

1) Tell us a bit about yourself…

My name is Sharon, I’m 56, I live in Ashford, Kent and I have 3 grown up children. The youngest is Lauren who is 26 and is severely disabled so she still lives at home with me. Before I had Lauren I worked as a dental nurse and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2) Your children are all grown up now, do you have any advice for new mums/mums of teenagers?

Yes, my children are all grown up now, but really the only advice I can think to give for teenagers is to keep your boundaries. They seem to want you as another friend but you’re not, you’re their parent and they have to abide by your rules.

For babies, just do your best and make the most of it because before long they’ve turned into horrible teenagers!

3) You’re a full time carer to Lauren who suffers with athetoid cerebral palsy, can you tell us about that?

Lauren was almost a year old when she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, although I had an idea before then that was what the problem was. Athetoid cerebral palsy affects all four limbs and causes severe spasticity in those limbs.

4) How has it impacted on your life having a child with a severe disability?

Having a child with a disability has had a great impact on my life in many ways, but I think the main one is taking away my ability to go to work and earn my own money… So I’m completely dependent on the state.

5) You probably never expected to still be a full time parent when your children had grown up, is it tough to carry on that role for longer than you expected?

It’s very tough to still be caring for your child once they’ve grown up, especially as I’m getting older myself! Our bodies were not equipped to care for our children’s physical needs once they become adults and, of course, I often wonder what she’d be doing in her life if she’d been born able-bodied. What sort of person would she be? etc…

6) Do you have any advice for mums with disabled children?

It can be a long slog but don’t give up. Make sure you’re getting everything you can because once they become adults it’s like they’re suddenly cured!

It is also very rewarding when your child achieves something you were told they’d never do.

7) Is there a lot of support for children with cerebral palsy?

There is a lot of support for children with cerebral palsy but unfortunate that stops when they become adults.

8) How much of an impact did Lauren’s health have on your other children growing up?

Lauren’s health had a big impact on my other two children growing up. Simple things like going somewhere for a family day out isn’t as simple anymore when you have a disabled child.

My two boys became my little helpers once I had Lauren and had a big role in helping me to care for her. They went from two little boys into two men overnight.

9) You have grandchildren now, and Lauren is an Auntie, how are the grandchildren around Auntie Lauren?

I have 3 grandchildren and they are all very mindful of Lauren’s disabilities. The girls are especially and Lauren has a lovely relationship with them and loves them coming over.

10) Finally, do you have anybody else you’d like to nominate for our wonderful women feature? Anyone who inspires you?

Sarah, you inspire me. Your drive and determination is unreal – the way you start things and see them through, even when life wants to chuck more shit your way you do all this off your own back. You had no guidance, no nurturing and, I suspect, no encouragement!

I’d also like to nominate all the women out there that get up and do their bit, juggling jobs / childcare / running a home and everything else life wants to throw their way! I don’t think you realise how hard motherhood is until you have a child.

Thank you so much to Sharon for being part of this series celebrating wonderful women everywhere! If you have anyone to nominate please get in touch!

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Author: Sarah

I am well on my way to becoming a barrister, and hope that one day my little munchkin will follow in my footsteps! I'm also a wife to a Grenadier Guard dealing with army life, and I write letters to Olivia as well as writing for the amazing blog we run over at www.mummykind.com

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