Health Visitors !!!?? : LUSENET : Disabled Parents Network : One Thread

Please, does anyone have any experience with their health visitor that they would be willing to share with me?

I am 23 and have cerebral palsey in both legs. I have poor muscle control and balance (I can't run either) and I use a walking stick.

I gave birth to my fist child, Zack, on 6th May 02. I am managing brilliantly, and so far, phisically and mentally coping better than my able-bodied peers. (I've a partner by the way)

I was confronted by my health visitor, yesterday, who asked me (rather abruptly) how I was going to cope when Zack became mobile. She wasn't happy with any of my answers ('He'll be in a pushchair for longer than average' and 'I'll use toddler reins')

She said she wants to give me a 'home visit' and I'm very scared that they have just automatically put Zack on some kind of 'at risk' register purely beacuse of my being disabled.

I think the fact that I don't smoke, drink, take illegal drugs, have a criminal record etc makes me a fit mother.

Are the authorities going to do a report on me?

-- Anonymous, September 10, 2002


Hi maria, there are plenty of parents who have parented successfully in similar situations to yourself. There are other strategies that might be useful to know about like: using kiddies reins, wrist straps that keep your child nearby when you are out and they are more independent and frankly will want to walk sometimes. I use a wheelchair, and couldn't run after my children either as toddlers, and found using a kiddies harness (that you get with many reins) but attaching a flexing dog lead (largest dog!) to the back of the harness when out, that pulls in and out and extends to maybe 12 feet or can be clipped in to only a few inches for when I needed close control like crossing roads. It took a little time of practise to avoid us getting tied up, but not long and allowed the kids to have some freedom but still be attached to me and within my control. Always remove when indoors or the child in the pushchair etc - it isn't designed to be used in this way so always think safety first!. There are also stands that can be attached behind a pushchair for a toddler to stand on available from mainstream baby catalogues, which might give you a choice of where the child will go so they don't have to be "IN" the pushchair, but can ride behind it, which they might find fun! Other ideas are make games where the kids chase you rather than you chase them, keep talking to them so they have an incentive to be "WITH" you and its great sharing too, and teaching them early on to hold your hand, your jumper edge, or the buggy etc so they eventually do it without thinking - this takes time and patience, and just means saying "Hold Mummy's hand" etc on a regular basis in a pleasant way. ALways keep something in your pocket or bag to tempt them back should things not work out - best toy/blanket or small goodie (doesn't hurt sometimes!!). Reward the good behaviour!! As a disabled person you are entitled to an assessment of your needs, which should include getting out and about with your child, would having assistance be useful to you? Your local social service disabled adults team are the people to ask, and this shouldn't mean your child being put on the at risk register, its only a little short term help for you. If you need more information contact us at DPPi. There are local voluntary organistions too, like Homestart, who might be able to give you a volunteer person once or twice a week to go out and about with you - this doesn't involve social services. I rang my local college which does nursery nurse training, and they were delighted to be able to place a student with me once a week as part of their training - this meant I was still in charge and couldn't leave the child in their care solely, but again meant I knew I could get out and about during that time. There are increasing numbers of indoor play areas where kids love to go and just jump around and a protected environment, and where they can burn up all that extra energy, find out whats in your local area. These are just a few thoughts - give us a ring at DPPi on 0800 018 4730 or email us on Hope it helps.

-- Anonymous, September 11, 2002

Hi Maria, I had to answer if only to say that my surname is also Lovell, coincidence huh! I used to be a nurse but not a health visitor and I am currently conducting research into parents who have a learning disability. As part of my research I had to attend a team meeting with health visitors and I can assure you that they are slowly becoming aware of their need to meet the needs of service users who are disabled. Whilst I am sure you will always get the odd one who is so obsessive that they miss the real picture, that of a loving mother / father caring for their child. I can only say that I am confident that the great majority of nurses and practitiioners are only too aware of their own deficits in both knowledge and understanding of the difficulties faced if you are a parent with a disability. I myself have 5 children and 2 I sort of inherited along the way and I have found parenting as a single parent very arduous to say the least. I admire and respect anyone who decides to parent. I hope that all goes well for you and your son Zack. One last point because of the Children's Act if any professional has any concerns regarding your parenting then they have to address those with you first, so your child cannot be placed upon a register without them having to talk with you first. You do have rights as a parent!! Warm Wishes Jacqui Lovell

-- Anonymous, October 10, 2002

Hi, I am a deaf mum with two children, one of which is special needs (she has communication problems). I contacted my social services at my local city council, and they were far more helpful than my health visitor. they are coming to do an assessment on me and my daughter seperatly and combine the outcomes to see what help they can offer me. I also picked up leaflets on help for carers, and got some useful numbers for my area, for disabled people, (it's not a leaflet you think would apply to you at first), and got these at my doctors surgery. Also try the website, they very useful too. And don't forget to go to the inland revenue website for all the new credits coming out for disabled persons and children (make sure you get your child tax credit - you're entitled to it), coming out in April 2003. If I come up with anything else I'll let you know. Kathy

-- Anonymous, November 12, 2002

I think your Health Visitor is being unreasonable. I have had a bit similar problems in the area I now live. When my kid was born (Rosie born 17/12/01) I lived near my parent (mum) in Gloucestershire and the health visitor there was lovely and so kind to us. I have a mild autism spectrum disorder (asperger). The health visitor in Gloucestershire arranged for me to go to a group every week where me and Rosie could meet with other families. However then we had to move to Bracknell for my partners job, and the health visitor has constantly been telling me that everything I have been doing wrong, for example when Rosie was just under 1yr old she slowed down in her weight gain. Now I have read that this is normal around that age because growth slows down, however, the health visitor kept telling me I was feeding her wrong and even telling me that I should stop breastfeeding her on demand (I have stopped breastfeeding when she was 9months in the end) which is against all sense. She also made report to social services that our house was 'too untidy'. I have stopped seeing that health visitor now and plan to change doctor practice if it happens again. However, the fact is as disabled parent you may not have some abilities but other ones, you will have more than un-disabled parents. I think you will find a way to keep your son close by when he is mobile the toddler reins is a good idea for all parents regardless of disability because toddlers can run fast! Another thing is at home to put up plenty of safety gates so your son can't get into dangerous places and then, you don't have to be holding him all times because he can only go in safe places. I don't see why health visitors have to be destructive like this????

-- Anonymous, May 17, 2003

Moderation questions? read the FAQ